F o c u s o n N u c l e a r P o w e r G e n e r a t i o n 2 0 0 5
Weldments in vessels and components for nuclear power generation must be of especially highquality due to the complexity and criticality of this demanding service. INCONEL alloys 600 and690 have been widely used in nuclear construction, especially in the steam generation systemsof reactors. A team of specialists from Special Metals Corporation discusses the application of this material in nuclear service.
Nickel alloy welding requirementsfor nuclear service
By Samuel D. Kiser, P.E. and Evan B. Hinshaw, P.E., Special MetalsWelding Products Company, Newton, NC, USA and James R. Crum andLewis E. Shoemaker, Huntington Alloys/Special Metals Corporation,Huntington, WV, USA
Steam generator tubes and through-wall nozzles and hardware and therequired weld joints in nuclear powerplants must exhibit strength, integrityand corrosion resistance. Since thesewelds are required for containment of potentially radioactive material, theymust be made using speciallydesigned welding products that aredeposited with precision using care-fully designed procedures.INCONEL alloy 600 (UNS N06600)steam generator tubes and hardwarewere used in nuclear reactors for elec-tric power generation beginning inthe 1950’s. Alloy 600 provided greatlyimproved resistance to stress corro-sion cracking over grade 304 stain-less steel. Unfortunately, the weldingproducts available for joining alloy600 at that time were not capable of producing weldments with thedesired integrity for nuclear service.Research into hot cracking in nickel-chromium-iron alloys started as earlyas 1946.
Early work conducted at theResearch Laboratory of theInternational Nickel Company, Inc. inevaluated the hot cracking resistanceof these products and comparedthem with those used to join alloy600.
These two EWI solidificationcracking studies showed Filler Metal52 to be more hot-cracking resistantthan Filler Metal 82 and WeldingElectrode 152 was more resistant thanWelding Electrode 182. The next gen-eration of nuclear welding products iscomprised of INCONEL 52M and WE152M. Like 52 and 152 these productsare designed with 30% Cr with addi-tion of B + Zr to provide resistance toductility dip cracking. Furthermore,welds made with INCONEL FillerMetal 52M have been shown to exhib-it a crack growth rate of less than1/20 the rate of welds made withWelding Electrode 182 when tested insimulated primary water. (6.5 to 1.0ppm Li, 1500 to 250 ppm B, andapproximately 35 cm3 (STP)H2/kgH2O and stress intensitiesbetween 26 and 43 MPa
Table 1lists some of the current nickel basedwelding consumables used fornuclear service.Bayonne, NJ, USA resulted in thedevelopment of welding products thatbecame INCONEL Welding Electrode182 (AWS A5.11 ENiCrFe-3) andINCONEL Filler Metal 82 (AWS A5.14ERNiCr-3). These were the first NiCrFe-type welding products capable of depositing crack-free, porosity-freeweldments in alloy 600.
Further workat Huntingon Alloys evaluated thecracking resistance of these productsusing Varestraint testing methods.
While alloy 600 provided greatlyimproved service over 304 stainlesssteel it still was subject to stresscracking after long exposure to highpurity reactor steam and primarywater. As a result, INCONEL alloy690 (UNS N06690) has essentiallyreplaced alloy 600 for components of the nuclear steam generator.
The ini-tial welding products used for joiningalloy 690 were INCONEL WeldingElectrode 152 (AWS A5.11ENiCrFe-7) and INCONEL Filler Metal52 (AWS A5.14 ERNiCrFe-7). B.B.Hood of Westinghouse and W. Lin of the Edison Welding Institute (EWI)