Stress Corrosion Cracking Life Estimation of Hold-Down Spring Screw for Nuclear Fuel Assembly
Hold-down spring screw fractures due to primary water stress corrosion cracking were observed in nuclear fuel assemblies. The screw fastens hold-down springs that are required to maintain the nuclear fuel assembly in contact with upper core plate and permit thermal and irradiation-induced length changes. In order to investigate the primary causes of the screw fractures, the finite element stress analysis and fracture mechanics analysis were performed on the hold-down spring assembly. The elastic-plastic finite element analysis showed that the local stresses at the critical regions of head-shank fillet and thread root significantly exceeded the yield strength of the screw material, resulting in local plastic deformation. Preloading on the screw applied for tightening had beneficial effects on the screw strength by reducing the stress level at the critical regions, compared to the screw without preload. Calculated deflections and strains at the hold-down springs using the finite element analysis were in very close agreements with the experimentally measured deflections and strains. Primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) life of the Inconel 600 screw was predicted by integrating the Scott’s model and resulted in a life of 1.42years, which was fairly close to the field experience. Cracks were expected to originate at the threaded region of the screw and propagated to the opposite side of the spring, which was confirmed by the fractographic analysis of the fractured screws.
Young-Jin Kim, Dong-Ho Bae and Yun-Jae Kim
S. K. Koh "Stress Corrosion Cracking Life Estimation of Hold-Down Spring Screw for Nuclear Fuel Assembly ", Key Engineering Materials, Vols. 297-300, pp. 1834-1839, 2005