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Kamran Mokhtarian and Roger F. Reddy

The scope of Subsection NE is specified in paragraph


This paragraph requires that a vessel classified as Class MC must be constructed in accordance with the rules of Subsection NE, with one exception. The exception is provided in NCA-2134, “Optional Use of Code Classes.” NCA-2134(c) allows the con- struction and stamping of a containment vessel, classified by the Design Specifications as a Class MC vessel, in accordance to the rules of Subsection NB, provided that the rules of NE-7000 are applied in lieu of the rules of NB-7000 for protection against overpressure. This is based on the fact that although the rules of Subsection NB for Class 1 vessels are considered to be at least as safe as the rules of Subsection NE, the overpressure protection requirements of different classes of vessels need to be different because of the varied functions that they serve. Class MC may be applied only to containment vessels and their appurtenances. This class of construction is not applicable to pip- ing, pumps, and valves that may be a part of the containment sys- tem. Such piping, pumps, and valves must be classified by the Design Specifications as Class 1 or Class 2 and constructed to the rules of Subsections NB or NC, respectively. Figure NE-1120-1 provides some guidelines for classification of typical containment penetrations. Like all other Sections of the ASME Code, Subsection NE rec- ognizes that all different details of construction cannot be cov- ered. For those cases for which no rules are provided, the Certificate Holder is responsible to provide details of construction that are consistent with those provided by the rules of this Subsection. This is similar to the provisions of the commonly used paragraph U-2(g) of Section VIII, Division 1. However, Subsection NE requires that such details be approved by the owner or his designee and be accepted by the Inspector.


This chapter provides a summary of some of the more signifi- cant requirements of the ASME Code Section III, Subsection NE, and a commentary on such requirements. The comments on and interpretation of the rules are strictly the opinions of the author and are not to be considered as official ASME Code Committee interpretations. These opinions are based on several years of experience in design, analysis, and construction of containment vessels and participation in various ASME Code Committees. The Code requirements cited may be simplified and abbreviated in this write-up and may not reflect all details of the rules. The applicable edition of the Code must be consulted for actual appli- cations. Some comparisons with the rules of Section VIII are included for information. The analysis procedures are not dealt with in any great detail, since they are similar to those of Subsection NB and Section VIII, Division 2 prior to the 2007 Edition. More emphasis has been placed on the unique features of Subsection NE. A number of Code Cases and references that pertain to the rules of this Subsection have been cited. Again, only the points significant to the item of discussion have been included here. For a complete understanding, the entire reference should be consulted. This chapter is based on the 2007 Edition of the Code.


Subsection NE, organized into articles similar to those of other subsections of Section III, establishes rules for material, design, fabrication, examination, inspection, testing, overpressure protec- tion, and documentation of metal containment vessels . “Metal Containments” are those vessels with the metal (usually steel) shell resisting the entire pressure without any help from backing materials such as concrete. The metal liners of concrete vessels, which perform a leak tightness function, are not covered by this subsection (they are covered by Section III, Division 2). The rules are for new construction only and do not address service deterio- ration. It should be pointed out that the rules of Subsection NE are supplemented by the rules of Subsection NCA, and that the manu- facturer of a Class MC vessel must be aware of Subsection NCA requirements as well as the Section III Appendices, Section II, Section V, and Section IX.


The boundaries of jurisdiction of Subsection NE are defined in paragraph NE-1130. The total containment system comprises the following:

(1) the containment vessel; (2) penetrations and appurtenances attached to the vessel; and (3) piping, pumps, and valves

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The Design Specifications must define the boundaries of the con- tainment vessel and the classification of each of the items in the preceding list. Figure NE-1132-1 (reproduced here as Fig. 9.1) provides some guidelines for specifying jurisdictional boundaries. The jurisdiction of Subsection NE shall, as a minimum, extend to the following points:

(1) for welded connections, the first circumferential joint excluding the connecting weld;

(2) for bolted connections, the face of first flange and excluding the bolting; and (3) for screwed connections, the first threaded joint.

The limits in the preceding list are “minimums” and could be extended to points further away from the vessel shell by the Design Specifications. The Code-specified boundaries between the containment vessel and the attachments depend on the types of attachments.

and the attachments depend on the types of attachments. FIG. 9.1 SOME TYPICAL JURISDICTIONAL BOUNDARIES FOR

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For this purpose, the following four types of attachments are defined:

(1) pressure-retaining attachments, such as stiffeners and open- ing reinforcement; (2) non-pressure retaining attachments, such as thermal sleeves, supports, and brackets; (3) structural attachments, which perform either a pressure- retaining function or a support function.

(4) nonstructural attachments, which perform neither pressure- retaining nor support functions.

Figure NE-1132.2-1, NE-1132.2-2, and NE-1132.2-3 (repro- duced here as Figs. 9.2, 9.3, and 9.4) are provided to aid in defining the boundary and construction requirements. Some of the more significant requirements provided by these figures are as follows.

requirements provided by these figures are as follows. FIG. 9.2 ATTACHMENTS IN THE CONTAINMENT VESSEL SUPPORT

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FIG. 9.3


(1) Attachments cast or forged with the vessel or weld buildup are a part of the vessel. (2) Attachments having a pressure-retaining function are a part of the vessel. (3) Within 2t from the pressure-retaining portion of the vessel, the first connecting weld of a non-pressure-retaining struc- tural attachment to the vessel is a part of the vessel. Beyond 2t, the first weld is a part of the attachment. (4) The first connecting weld of a non-structural attachment to the vessel is part of the attachment.

Except in items (3) and (4) above, for a non–pressure-retaining attachment, the vessel boundary is at the surface of the vessel.

(6) Mechanical fasteners connecting non–pressure-retaining attachments are part of the attachment.


Again, the vessel boundary may be specified by the Design Specifications to extend further than the minimums defined in the preceding list.

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FIG. 9.4



The material requirements for Class MC vessels are specified in article NE-2000. Additional requirements regarding materials and materials suppliers are included in Subsection NCA. Metallic materials used for Class MC construction must be to a SA, SB, or SFA specification (these specifications are included in Section II of the ASME Code). Rules for manufacturing, identifying, and certifying these materials are provided in Subsection NCA. Tubular products and fittings, which are welded with filler metal, must be stamped with the nuclear part (NPT) symbol, but name- plates are not required. Metallic materials produced under an ASTM designation may be accepted, provided that the material has been manufactured to an ASTM specification date identified as acceptable in the applicable Edition of Section II. Likewise, weld- ing material produced to an AWS designation may be accepted,

provided that the AWS specification is indicated to be identical with the corresponding ASME specification. If a material does not have an ASME specification, it may not be used for Class MC construction unless permitted by a Section III Code Case. The materials that are allowed for class MC construction are listed in Table NE-2121(a)-1. This Table is continuously updated to add new materials or delete materials no longer permitted. Paragraph NCA-3800 of Subsection NCA contains extensive requirements regarding certification and marking of materials and certification of Material Organizations. The term “Material Organization” was introduced in the 1994 Addenda to refer to orga- nizations such as Material Manufacturers and Material Suppliers that must be accredited by obtaining a Quality System Certificate. (For definitions of terms, see NCA- 9000.) These quality system requirements are significantly more extensive than those for other Sections of the ASME Code and are one of the major contributors to the high cost of nuclear components. The Material Organizations

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may be accredited by ASME or by the Certificate Holder. The Material Organization is responsible for establishing, documenting, implementing, and maintaining a Quality System Program in accordance with NCA-3850. Material traceability requirements are specified in NCA-3856; Material Certification requirements are described in NCA-3860. The Material Organization must pro- vide a Certified Material Test Report (CMTR) or a Certificate of Compliance (COC) at the time of material shipment. A COC may be provided in lieu of a CMTR only for material in. and less nominal pipe size and for bolting 1 in. and less. Any material allowed to be supplied with a COC and all materials defined as small products are exempt from the quality system requirements of NCA-3800. Small products are defined as

(1) pipe, tubes, fittings, and flanges 2 in. nominal pipe size and less; (2) bolting materials 1 in. nominal diameter and less; and (3) bars with a nominal cross sectional area of 1 in. 2 and less.

The material certification requirements of this Subsection are generally more restrictive than those of all other Sections of the ASME Code. A rather limited number of materials are permitted for use in Subsection NE. These materials are listed in Tables NE-2121(a)-1 and NE-2121(a)-2. Although these tables include a number of high-alloy materials, containment vessels are usually made of carbon or low-alloy steels. In the past the most commonly used materials were SA-516, Grade 70 plate; SA-105 forging; SA-106 piping; and SA-193 bolting. There is usually no need for high- alloy and nonferritic materials or for high-strength materials in the construction of containment vessels. Normalized SA-516 material, has the desirable combination of strength and toughness. Because most containment vessels are inside buildings the tough- ness requirements can easily be met. Unless the material is impact tested, pressure-retaining material of ferritic steel with thickness greater than in. must be normalized or quenched and tempered, fully killed, and melted to a fine grain melting practice. Any examination, test, or treatment required by both the Material Specifications and Subsection NE need to be performed only once. Any of these operations may be performed by the Certificate Holder, but if any operations beyond those of the Material Specifications are to be performed by the Material Organization, they must be specified by the Certificate Holder in his/her purchase order. Requirements pertaining to material test coupons for ferritic steels are given in NE-2200. When such steel is subjected to heat treatment during fabrication or installation of a containment vessel, the material used for the tensile and impact test specimens shall be heat treated in the same manner as the vessel. (The only exception to this rule is for test specimens of P-No. 1 materials with a nominal thickness of 2 in. or less.) The Certificate Holder must provide the Material Organization with the temperature and heating/cooling rates to be used. In the case of postweld heat treatment, the total time at temper- ature for the test material must not be less than 80% of the total time at temperature during actual post-weld heat treatment (PWHT) of the material. Any PWHT time that is anticipated to be applied to the material after the vessel has been stamped must be specified by the owner in the Design Specification. The Certificate Holder, in turn, is required to specify this additional time to the Material Organization. When ferritic material is subjected to quenching from the austenitizing temperature, the test coupons representing those materials shall be cooled at a rate similar to but no faster than the main body of the material, with some minor exceptions. Using ther- mal barriers or insulation to achieve this may be necessary.





All welding materials used in the construction of Class MC containment vessels must conform to the requirements of the welding material specification. In addition, welding materials must meet all the requirements of Subsection NE that are related to these materials. One such requirement is the identification of welding materials. Such materials must be controlled during fab- rication so that they are identifiable as acceptable until the mate- rial is actually consumed in the process. For the testing of welding

material, the Certificate Holder must provide the following infor- mation:

(1) the welding process; (2) the SFA specification and classification; (3) the minimum tensile strength in the as-welded and/or heat- treated condition; (4) the drop weight testing requirements; (5) the Charpy V-notch testing requirements; (6) the preheat and interpass temperatures for welding of test coupons; (7) the postweld heat treatment requirements; (8) the elements for which chemical analysis is required; and (9) the minimum delta ferrite.

Detailed requirements are specified for testing of weld material that go far beyond those required by other Sections of the ASME Code NE-2420 and NE-2430 must be thoroughly studied to assure that all requirements are complied with. Rules for examination and repair of pressure retaining material are provided in paragraph NE-2530. Examinations required by the Material Specifications must be performed at the time of material manufacture. Surface defects must be removed by grinding or machining. After defect elimination, the depression must be blended uniformly into the surrounding surfaces to minimize stress concentration. If the elimination of the defect reduces the thickness below the minimum required thickness, the material must be repaired by welding. Such material repair may be per- formed by the Material Organization provided the depth of the repair cavity does not exceed one-third of the nominal thickness and that the prior approval of the Certificate Holder has been obtained. The welding procedure and welders must be qualified in accordance with the rules of NE-4000 and Section IX. Each repair weld must be examined by using the magnetic-particle or liquid- penetrant method. In addition, when the depth of the repair cavity exceeds certain limits, the repair weld must be radiographically examined. Those repairs that are required to be radiographically examined must be described in a Certified Material Test Report. Normally, manufacturers perform all weld repairs themselves and do not allow such repairs to be made by the Material Organization.


Appendix P provides recommendations for the contents of Certified Material Test Reports (CMTR). Although this is a Non- Mandatory Appendix, complying with it is generally expected. The materials requirements may change with each edition or addenda of the Code, and the purchaser must identify the applica- ble document. For metallic materials, the following information is recommended to be shown in the CMTRs:

— Name of certifying organization.

— Number and expiration date of the organization’s Certificate of Authorization.

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— Purchaser’s order or contract number.

— Description of material including specification number, grade, class, and type.

— Description of material identification marking.

— Actual results of chemical analyses, tests, and examinations required.

— Reports of weld repairs performed.

— Charpy V-notch and drop weight test results.

— Nondestructive examinations performed and accepted.

Under certain circumstances, additional information, such as heat treatment data, hydrostatic test data, ferrite number, and grain size, also may have to be included in the CMTR. It is not required that all the Material Specifications and Code require- ments be performed by the same organization. When treatments and tests are performed by different organizations, the Certificate Holder must ensure that each organization providing services be identified on the CMTR along with the activities for which that organization is responsible. Alternatively, CMTRs may be provided by the other organizations for the services they perform; these should be referenced on and attached to the CMTR furnished by the material supplier. All CMTRs must include a dated statement affirming that the contents of the report are correct and accurate; however, a CMTR is not required to be signed or notarized, which makes the electronic submittal of such reports possible.


All pressure-retaining materials must be impact tested unless exempted by the provisions of this subsection. The following are some of the provisions of this subsection. The following are some of the exemption provided:

(1) Materials with nominal thickness of

(2) Bolting with a nominal size of 1 in. or less. (3) Bars with a nominal cross-sectional area of 1 in. 2 or less.



in. or less.

(4) Pipe, tube, and fittings with a nominal pipe size 6 in.diame- ter or less. (5) Austenitic stainless steels. (6) Nonferrous materials. (7) Materials for which T NDT is lower than the Lowest Service Metal Temperature (LSMT) at least by an amount estab- lished by Appendix R of the Appendices to Section III. (8) Materials with LSMT exceeding 150 F.

The LSMT, which is required to be specified by the Design Specifications, is defined as the lowest temperature that the metal may experience in service while a plant is in operation. This exemption does not apply to the weld metal or the welding proce- dure qualification. The T NDT is the temperature at or above the nil- ductility transition temperature and is 10 F below the temperature at which at least two specimens show no-break performance. The values of T NDT for some commonly used materials are listed in Table NE-2311(a)-1. The values listed in this table were obtained from data on heavy section steels and are conservative for the range of thicknesses commonly used for containment vessels. Appendix R provides rules for determining the permissible lowest service metal temperatures for materials, relative to the nil- ductility transition temperatures. Figure R-1200-1 (reproduced here as Fig. 9.5) provides the values for factor A as a function of material thickness. The permissible LSMT is obtained by adding this factor to the nil-ductility transition temperature for the mater- ial. For the material to be acceptable, the permissible LSMT must not be higher than the specified lowest service metal temperature. Non-Mandatory Appendix G presents a procedure for obtaining the allowable loadings for ferritic pressure-retaining materials to protect against nonductile failure. This procedure is based on principles of linear elastic fracture mechanics. To apply this pro- cedure, a maximum postulated flaw has to be assumed at each location. The postulated flaw must be consistent with the NDE

method and acceptance criteria used at that location. The mode I stress intensity factors for various loadings are then calculated at each of the points under consideration. Such factors are then

of the points under consideration. Such factors are then FIG. 9.5 DETERMINATION OF PERMISSIBLE LSMT (LOWEST

FIG. 9.5


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added, and the sum is compared with the critical (reference) stress intensity value, which is a function of the material and tempera- ture at the point. Different procedures are recommended for dif- ferent components and operating conditions. It should be noted that the term “stress intensity factor,” as used in fracture mechanics, has a meaning totally different from the term “stress intensity” used for stress evaluations. Figure G-2210-1 (reproduced here as Fig. 9.6) provides a con- servative relationship between the critical stress intensity factor and the difference between the temperature and the nil-ductility temperature of the material. This curve is based on the lower bound of test results for a number of commonly used ferritic steels. As expected, the values of this factor increase with increas- ing temperature, and the rate of increase becomes very significant for temperatures that exceed the nil-ductility temperature by more than 100 F or 120 F. It is generally assumed that at these tempera- tures, nonductile failure is not of concern. For a temperature equal to the NDT temperature, the given value of the stress intensity factor is 40 ksi; this value drops gradually with colder tempera- tures, approaching an asymptotic value of about 25. The values obtained from this curve may be used for ferritic steels with spec- ified minimum yield strength at room temperature not exceeding 50 ksi. For other materials, or whenever the designer chooses, the actual values for a certain material may be obtained and used from the test. The postulated defect used to derive the recommended proce- dure of Appendix G is a sharp surface defect normal to the direc- tion of maximum stress. Note that only tensile stresses are of any significance in brittle fracture, and compressive stresses need not be considered. The assumed flaw, for thicknesses in the range of thicknesses between 4 in. and 12 in., has a depth of one-fourth the section thickness and a length of 1.5 times the section thickness.

For greater thicknesses, the postulated defect for the 12 in. thick section is used. For sections less than 4 in. thick, the 1 in. deep defect is conservatively postulated. If the designer chooses, smaller defects may be used on an individual basis if such smaller defect can be ensured. If impact testing is required, paragraphs NE-2320 and NE-2330 provide test procedures and acceptance criteria. Two options are provided for impact testing of pressure boundary materials. The first option is Charpy V-notch testing at or below the LSMT. The second option is drop weight testing to show that the LSMT is satisfied in accordance with the rules of Appendix R. Materials may be used at temperatures colder than those established by either test method, provided that their use is justified by an Appendix G analysis or equivalent. This provision is similar to Section VIII provisions that allow the operation of a vessel at tem- peratures colder than the Minimum Design etal Temperature (MDMT) provided that the stresses are low enough to meet the specified rules. If the Design Specifications require a vessel hydro- static or pneumatic test temperature that is lower than the LSMT, the impact testing for pressure-retaining materials must be per- formed at or below the lowest specified vessel test temperature. The user also has the option of specifying a Lowest Overpressure Test Metal Temperature, which is defined as the lowest tempera- ture the metal may experience during the overpressure test. In this case, in addition to the tests required for the operating conditions, Charpy V-notch testing must be performed at a temperature not more than 30°F below the Lowest Overpressure Test Metal Temperature. The specific test methods and acceptance standards for these tests are different from those for tests based on LSMT (See NE-2333.) The test temperature and the results of all impact testing must be reported in the CMTR. For Charpy V-notch testing, the results

and the results of all impact testing must be reported in the CMTR. For Charpy V-notch

FIG. 9.6

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must include both the lateral expansion and absorbed energy. The impact test specimens must be removed from a depth within the material that is at least as far from the material surface as that specified for tensile test specimens in the material specification. The orientation of specimens for drop weight tests may be in any direction. For Charpy V-notch specimens the orientation of speci- mens should be in accordance with SA-370, except for quenched and tempered materials. Specific requirements for quenched and tempered materials regarding the orientation of the specimens are provided in paragraph NE-2220. It should be noted that the specific test methods and acceptance standards specified for tests based on the LSMT and those speci- fied for tests based on Lowest Overpressure Test Metal Temperature are different. For the test case, only Charpy V-notch testing is required, and the required average energy value for any thickness is either 15 ft. lb. or 20 ft. lb., depending on the speci- fied minimum tensile strength. For the service conditions, the requirements are more refined and more restrictive. The impact test requirements of Article NE-2000 must be used in conjunction with the test requirements of Article NE-4000. The requirements for impact testing of welds and heat-affected zones are explained in the fabrication rules. It has long been recognized that the welding process causes a reduction in the toughness of the heat- affected zone. Vessel manufacturers used to have their own rules for ensuring that the HAZ meets the material toughness require- ments for qualifying the weld procedure. The 2002 Addenda to NE-4335 provides rules for compensating for the toughness decrease during welding. Three different methods are offered, which may be used individually or in combination.


Design and analysis requirements are contained in Article NE-3000. The loadings that must be taken into account for design are essentially the same as those listed in Section III for Classes 1, 2 and 3 pressure vessels with the addition of “reactions to steam and water jet impingement.” Jet impingement is, of course, one of the major loadings to which a containment vessel will be subjected if an accidental pipe break occurs. The allowable stress value used for design-by-formula analysis and the basic allowable stress intensity value used for design- by-stress analysis (with the exception of that used for limiting secondary stress intensity) are each 1.1 times the allowables for Section VIII, Division 1 vessels given in Tables 1A and 1B of Section II, Part D. For the limit on secondary stress intensity, the basic allowable is the same as that for Section III, Class 1 compo- nents given in Tables 2A and 2B of Section II, Part D. Up to the 1998 edition (which includes the 1998 Addenda), the stress allow- ables for temperatures below the creep range, listed in Tables 1A and 1B, essentially have been based on the smaller of two-thirds of the specified minimum yield strength and one-quarter of the specified minimum ultimate strength. (Other factors are involved; for details, see Appendix 1 of Section II, Part D.) With the 1999 addenda, the design margin on tensile strength was reduced from 4.0 to 3.5, resulting in higher allowable stresses, for most materi- als. The allowable stress values of Tables 1A and 1B reflect the reduction in design margin on ultimate strength. The ASME Code Committee has approved the use of these higher allowables for nuclear containment vessels built to Subsection NE, keeping the factor of 1.1. The justification for the reduction in design factor on ultimate strength is included in WRC Bulletin 435 [1].

Basically, the justification is based on the improvements made in the Code since 1967. These included improved steel making processes and improvements in nondestructive examination capa- bilities. The reduction in design factor was made in Sections I, III (for Classes 2, 3, and MC), and VIII, Division 1. The reason for the 1.1 multiplier on allowable stress, which allows stresses 10% higher than those for Section VIII, Division 1 vessels is based on the fact that, unlike most pressure vessels, containment vessels do not have pressure relief devices. The 110% is equivalent to the pressure accumulation permitted prior to the full discharge of the pressure relief devices. If clad material is used for construction, certain design and analysis requirements must be met. No structural strength may be attributed to the cladding material for satisfying primary stress limits. For certain design calculations, credit may be taken for clad thickness of integrally clad plates. If such credit is taken for clad thickness, the Maximum Service Metal Temperature (MSMT) used must be the lower of the values allowed for base plate material and the cladding material. If credit is not taken for the clad thickness, the MSMT of the vessel is that allowed for the base plate material. For components subject to internal pres- sure, the inside diameter of clad material may be used in the design equations, regardless of whether clad material is included in design thickness or not. When checking for bearing stresses, the presence of cladding on bearing surfaces must always be considered.


The rules of Section III Code, including Subsection NE, call for certification of certain documents by registered professional engineers. Such certifications are required for the Design Specifications, the Design Report, and the Overpressure Protection Report. These certifications must be performed by engineers who meet certain specified requirements, which are specified in the Appendix XXIII. The qualifications of the professional engineers in meeting the requirements of this Appendix must be evaluated and verified by the owner or the N Certificate Holder, as applica- ble, responsible for the activity being certified. A record of the qualifications of professional engineers must be maintained. The first requirement for certifying engineers is registration in at least one state of the United States or one province of Canada. In addi- tion, four years of varied applicable experience, of which at least two years are spent in the specialty field, is required. The engi- neers must keep current their knowledge of the Codes and continue professional development in their specialty fields. Detailed require- ments are specified for certifiers of various documents. Engineers must assure themselves that they are qualified to perform the spe- cific certification activities and must prepare a statement attesting to that fact. Appendix XXIII also presents the items to be specifically reviewed in each document for a valid certification. Forms and examples for these certification activities are also provided. These detailed certification and personnel qualification require- ments are among the factors that contribute to the quality of a Section III vessel as compared with a Section VIII vessel. Section VIII, Division 1, has no certification requirements other than that for the data reports. Section VIII, Division 2, requires the certifi- cation of the Design Specifications and the Design Report by a professional engineer. However, no detailed requirements for the experience and documentation of the qualifications are provided.

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There is some belief that additional certification and qualification requirements are needed for Section VIII and, in particular, for Division 1. The purpose of requiring a Registered Professional Engineer was to assure that only qualified engineers would be responsible for design of equipment that requires stress analysis. The ASME Code had permitted anyone to design equipment when the design consisted of merely substituting numbers in equations to deter- mine the required thickness. However, the Committee felt that a detailed stress analysis required the engineering judgment of a Registered Professional Engineer (RPE), because they were con- vinced that the Rules of Ethics would prevent the engineer from certifying the design if he didn’t understand the provisions of the Code. There have been times when engineers have certified designs of pressure retaining equipment without a full under- standing of Code requirements, but these engineers are subject to heavy punishments such as jail and large fines. The purpose of requiring an RPE is to protect the public.


Non-Mandatory Appendix B provides detailed guidelines for the preparation and contents of the Design Specifications. This Appendix refers to paragraph NCA-3252 for the minimum contents of the certified Design Specifications. The Design Specifications must contain sufficient detail to provide a complete basis for design and construction. As a minimum it must include functions and boundaries of items, all design and overpressure protection requirements, the environmental conditions, the Code classifica- tion of the items, the material requirements, the operating require- ments, and the effective Code edition and addenda. It is the responsibility of the owner to provide the Design Specifications. The Design Specifications must be certified as correct and com- plete and also certified to be in compliance with the requirements of the Code by one or more Registered Professional Engineers (RPEs) competent in the applicable field of design. The RPEs must also be qualified in accordance with the requirements of Appendix XXIII (formerly ANSI/ASME N626.3). This Appendix has detailed requirements for qualifications and duties of special- ized professional engineers. Such engineers must have a mini- mum of four years of varied application experience, at least two of which must have been in the specialty field for which they per- form certification activity. In addition, they must keep current their knowledge of Code requirements and continue professional development in their specialty fields through personal study and experience. Such qualifications must be reviewed by their employers at least once every three years to assure that the qualifi- cations have been maintained. A continuing record of such activi- ties must be included in the qualification records of the individual. The filing requirements for the Design Specifications are also included in Subsection NCA. A copy of the Design Specifications must be made available to the Inspector at the manufacturing site before the fabrication begins. A copy must also be filed at the location of installation and be made available to the enforcement authorities having jurisdiction over the plant installation. Appendix B lists the loads to be addressed in the Design Specifications. This list is similar to that of paragraph UG-22 in Section VIII, Division 1, which lists the loads to be addressed by the designer. But specific details are provided here for the deter- mination of each load and how loads are assigned to various ser- vice limits. Guidelines for load combinations are provided, and it

is noted that the Code stress allowables are not intended to pro- vide limits on deformations. The materials requirements that should be addressed in the Design Specifications are also listed. Also to be included are any unusual fabrication requirements, whether a hydrotest or pneumatic test is to be performed, any restrictions on testing requirements, and leak-tightness requirements. In addition to the requirements for vessels, Appendix B includes specific require- ments for pumps, valves, and piping. Article B-11000 lists refer- ences, which contain regulatory requirements. This list is very helpful to the engineer preparing the Design Specifications. The regulatory requirements need to be included either by description or by reference.


Appendix C provides non-mandatory guidelines for the prepa- ration of the design report by the Certificate Holder. In general, the Design Report should be based upon analysis to demonstrate the adequacy of the structural design to meet all the requirements of the certified Design Specifications and the Code. At a mini- mum, the report should include the results, conclusions, and other considerations showing that all requirements related to structural design are met. Guidelines are provided for the prepa- ration of the Design Report, with the intent being to cause uni- formity of such reports to the extent possible. The design report must be reviewed by the owner or his designee to determine that all the design and service loadings as stated in the Design Specifications have been evaluated and that the acceptance crite- ria of the Code have been met. The responsibility for the method of analysis and the accuracy of the Design Report remains with the Certificate Holder. Suggestions for distribution and retention of the report are also provided. The owner is responsible for designating the records to be maintained. The owner is also responsible for continued main- tenance of the records required by the Code. The owner must advise the enforcement authority in writing regarding the location of the records, including the Design Report.


The rules for design by analysis are specified in Paragraph NE-3200. These rules are very similar to those of Subsection NB and Section VIII, Division 2 (prior to the 2007 Edition). The theory of failure used is the maximum shear stress theory. At a given point, the maximum shear stress is equal to one-half the differ- ence between the algebraically largest and the algebraically small- est of the three principal stresses. The term “stress intensity” is defined as twice the maximum shear stress, having a value equal to the difference between the algebraically largest and smallest principal stresses at a given point. Terms related to stress analysis are defined in NE-3213. Calculated stresses need to be categorized as primary, secondary, or peak, with each category having different allowables, depend- ing on the mode of failure that they may cause. Primary stresses are those developed by the imposed loadings and are necessary to satisfy the laws of equilibrium between external and internal forces. Such stresses, which are not self-limiting, may cause gross distortion or collapse. Primary stresses are further divided into general membrane, local membrane, and bending.

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A general membrane stress extends over large enough portion

of the vessel shell so that an effective redistribution of load is not possible when the material yields. An example of such stress cate- gory is the membrane stress due to pressure. These stresses are limited to the basic stress allowable, which provides a minimum margin of 1.5 on the minimum specified yield strength. Since the actual yield strength of most materials may be substantially higher than the specified minimum value, the true safety margins are generally greater than those apparent from the basis for allowable stresses. Another factor contributing to the conservatism of this stress category is the strain-hardening properties exhibited by most materials.

A local primary stress is that produced by pressure or mechani-

cal loading and is associated with a discontinuity effect. Such

stresses are sufficiently localized to have the ability to redistribute to the adjoining areas that have lower stresses. The primary con- cern with this stress category is excessive local distortion. The allowable stress for this category of stress is 1.5 times the basic stress allowable. This value may exceed the yield strength for cer- tain materials, but since it is localized and able to redistribute, a collapse failure is not of concern. Criteria are provided for deter- mining when a stress distribution may be considered local. The dis- tance over which the membrane stress intensity exceeds 1.1 times

2RT , in the

the basic allowable shall not extend more than 1.0

meridional direction. Another limitation is that any two locally

2RT , to

stressed regions may not be closer to each other than 2.5

avoid overlap between the stress fields. The Code does not specify a limit on the extent of the region with stresses between 1.0 and 1.1 times the basic stress allowable. This may appear as a loophole, which will allow exceeding the stress allowable by up to 10% for unlimited distances. But if applied properly to the locally stressed discontinuities, the shell attenuation will cause a reduction of such

local stresses to basic allowables within a reasonable distance.

A primary bending stress is the through thickness bending at a

point caused by external loadings. A prime example of such stress is that due to pressure on a flat plate. The limit on the surface stress for such stress (including the primary membrane stress) is 1.5

times the basic allowable. The factor of 1.5 in this case is the shape factor to cause through thickness yielding. It should be pointed out that the Code rules are for rectangular cross sections of normally encountered pressure vessel shells. If a cross section other than a rectangular one is encountered, this allowable should be adjusted by replacing the 1.5 factor with the appropriate shape factor.

A secondary stress is that developed by the constraint of adja-

cent material or by self-constraint of the structure. The basic char- acteristic of a secondary stress is that it is self-limiting. When the material yields or distorts locally, the conditions that cause the

stress are satisfied, and one application of the load cannot cause failure. The primary concern with secondary stresses is the possi- bility of excessive deformation and fatigue failure. The limit on

the range of primary plus secondary stress intensity at any point is 3.0 times the basic stress allowable. This value is limited to two times the yield strength of the material, at temperature. The sig- nificance of this limit is that if the range of primary plus sec- ondary stress intensity does not exceed twice yield, incremental distortion cannot take place when the stresses are cycled, and also that the stress intensity range will shake down to elastic action. This will validate the Code specified fatigue analysis, which is based on equivalent elastic stresses. For further explanation, see the ASME published document on the criteria of Section III [2].

A peak stress is that increment of stress that is additive to the

primary plus secondary stresses, caused by local discontinuities

and local thermal gradients, including the effects of stress concen- trations. Such stress does not cause significant distortion; the pri- mary concern with it is the formation of fatigue crack or that it will cause brittle fracture. Examples of peak stresses are thermal stresses due to differential expansion of cladding material, stresses at local structural discontinuities, and surface stresses produced by thermal shock. There is no limit specified on peak stresses; they are included in the fatigue analysis and the number of cycles is limited by the specified procedure. The aforementioned stress allowables are for Service Level A and have been simplified in this chapter. For details of deriving the stress intensities of various categories and detailed stress lim- its for various Service Levels, see NE-3200. The Code does not provide mandatory rules for the methods of calculating stresses. However, Non-Mandatory Appendix A pro- vides formulas for calculating stress in some commonly encoun- tered shells. Appendix A was commonly used for stress analysis of pressure vessels before use of computers became common- place. Appendix A is still useful to help engineers understand and verify the results of computer solutions. Appendix A is consistent with the design theory of Section III and Section VIII, Division 2 (prior to the 2007 Edition), but finite element computer programs are not. In spite of the fact that finite element analysis (FEA) is inap- propriate and not consistent with the design theories of Section III, some engineers, who do not understand the Code, still use FEA for stress analysis of Section III pressure vessels. Some of the problems associated with FEA are that if elements other than shell elements are used, nonlinear through-thickness stresses may result. At transition elements between shells, the radial direction is not defined and categorizing stresses is difficult. At local struc- tural discontinuities, some but not all of the peak stresses will be included in the results. How much of peak stresses have been included depends on the fineness of the model mesh, and to separate out the secondary and peak stresses is very difficult. The PVRC has been working on a project called “3-D Stress Categorization” to give recommendations on how to categorize stresses from a three-dimensional finite element analysis. The results of this project recently have been published as WRC Bulletin 429. In addition to this Bulletin, there are a number of published papers that address the problem of stress classification. Table NE-3217-1 was put into the Code to assist the designer in categorizing the calculated stresses. However, this table does not address the questions that are raised when finite element models are used. Some of the recommendations of the WRC Bulletin 429 are very briefly summarized in the following list:

(1) General primary membrane stresses should be calculated by equilibrium equations and not by FEM. (2) Primary and secondary bending stresses should be lin- earized for comparing with the allowables. (3) Linearized distributions should develop the same net forces and moments. (4) Primary and secondary stress evaluations should be per- formed in basic structural elements only. (5) For fatigue analysis in transition regions, the primary plus secondary stress intensity range should be evaluated in the nearest structural element. (6) For primary membrane stress evaluation, the six stress com- ponents should be averaged across thickness. The average principal stress should be calculated from the average stress components.

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Chapter 9

The stress intensity limits for the design condition and specified service loadings are summarized in Table NE-3221-1. For the design condition, the limits for primary stresses are the same as those for Service Level A, and secondary and peak stresses need not be addressed. The allowables for Service Level B are the same as those for Service Level A. For Service Levels C and D, an evaluation of secondary and peak stresses is not required. The pri- mary stresses for Service Level C are the same as Level A if the structure is not continuous and integral, in which case the allow- ables are at least 20% higher. Service Level D limits get the same 20% increase for structures that are not integral and continuous. Also, Service Level D limits, for the same types of structures, depend on whether an elastic or inelastic analysis is performed. For an inelastic analysis, the limit is 85% of the allowable calcu- lated in accordance with Appendix F; for an elastic analysis, the allowables are 1.5 times those allowed for inelastic analysis.


If Service Level D Limits are specified by the Design Specifications, the guidelines of Appendix F are to be used. Even though this is a Non-Mandatory Appendix, it provides the only reasonable approach for the evaluation of Service Level D. The guidelines are intended to ensure that violation of the pressure retaining function will not occur, but are not intended to ensure operability of the components during or after the specified event. The rules of this Appendix, intended for severe hypothesized accidents, are not applicable to the portion of a component or sup- port for which a failure has been hypothesized. For Service Level D Limits, only those on primary stresses are prescribed. Peak stresses and secondary stresses (the latter being self-limiting) are of no consequence for this noncyclic event. The potential for buckling under compressive loads and for brittle fracture should be considered. Appendix F provides for either elastic analysis or plastic analysis, and also provides limits for each. For both methods, Appendix F calls for consideration of geometric non-linearities, if appropriate. However, no limits on strains or deformations are provided. Such limits may need to be provided in the Design Specifications, depending on the function of the component and the deformation limit that can adversely affect the operability of the component. If an elastic analysis is used, the general primary membrane stress intensity is to be limited to the lesser of 2.4 times the basic allowable or 0.7 times the minimum specified ultimate strength. This assures a certain margin against rupture. The local primary membrane stress intensity and the primary membrane plus primary bending stress intensity are to be limited to 150% of the limit for general primary membrane stress intensity. This limit is justified by the fact that these local stresses will be redistributed to the adjacent area before they cause rupture. The average primary shear stress across a section loaded in pure limited to 0.42 times the shear is not to exceed 0.42 times the specified minimum ulti- mate strength. In all the preceding limits, some additional conser- vatism is produced by the fact that the actual material properties are usually greater than the specified minimum values. For com- pressive stresses, the recommended allowable stresses are equal to 150% of those obtained from the rules of NE-3133, which means that the safety margins are reduced by a factor of 1.5. If the criti- cal buckling value is determined by analysis or test, the recom- mended design margin to be used is 1.5, as compared to 3.0 for other service limits.

If a plastic analysis is performed, the general primary mem- brane stress intensity is to be limited to 0.7 times the specified minimum ultimate strength for most materials. The maximum pri- mary stress at any location is limited to 0.9 times the ultimate and the average primary shear is ultimate. If a collapse analysis is used, the specified load should not exceed 90% of the limit analy- sis collapse load or 100% of plastic collapse load or test collapse load.


Containment vessels normally are designed to provide protec- tion against release of contaminated materials in case of a severe accident. As a result, they are not subject to significant cyclic pressure loadings. However, environmental, cyclic piping, and thermal loads may be specified and, consequently, may need to be designed. The rules for fatigue analysis are very similar to those of Subsection NB and Section VIII, Division 2. Subsection NE includes fatigue exemption rules, similar to one of the methods provided in Section VIII, Division 2. If a vessel does not meet all the exemption conditions, then a detailed fatigue analysis must be performed. The S-N curves, providing allowable number of cycles for calculated stress intensity amplitude associated with each type of cycle, are identical to those of other ASME Codes. These curves were developed in the early 1960s from data obtained from strain-controlled testing of smooth, polished small specimens in air. To account for the size effects, environmental effects, surface roughness, and many other differences between the test environ- ment and the actual components, design factors of 2 and 20 were applied to the mean test result of the stress intensity amplitude and the number of cycles, respectively. The lower of the two resulting values was plotted as a design curve. These design fac- tors of 2 and 20 were also intended to account for data scatter and to provide safety margins. The design curves conservatively include the effects of mean stresses, so that mean (noncyclic) stresses do not need to be included in the calculation of the range of peak stress intensity. These curves have not been updated with recent test results and advances in analytical methods. It has been questioned whether the factors of 2 and 20 are adequate to account for service conditions (especially in corrosive environ- ments) and to provide adequate safety margins. For several years, the PVRC has had a Task Group working on proposals for updat- ing the Code fatigue rules. A significant part of the work assigned to the Task Group has been to evaluate the effects of various environments on the fatigue life of components. The report of the Task Group was recently submitted to the ASME Code Committee for consideration and possible updating of the Code fatigue rules. The Code rules employ the Miner’s linear damage law for com- bining the effects of various types of cycles on the overall fatigue life. This is a simplified and conservative method that does not account for the sequence of cycles. In reality, the sequence of large amplitude versus small amplitude cycles will affect the resulting fatigue life. All cycles due to Service Levels A and B Limits, and due to Service Level C Limits where the structure is not integral and continuous, need to be accounted for. However, other Service Level C Limits, Service Level D Limits, and the overpressure test cycles prescribed by the Code do not need to be included in the fatigue analysis. A service cycle is defined as the initiation and establishment of new conditions followed by a return to the conditions that prevailed at the beginning of the

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cycle. A stress cycle is defined as a condition in which the alter- nating stress difference goes from an initial value through an alge- braic maximum value and an algebraic minimum value and then returns to the initial value. A single operational cycle may result in one or more stress cycles. Dynamic effects must also be accounted for in the fatigue analysis. To arrive at the maximum range of peak stresses at a point, the stress concentration effects of local discontinuities must be con- sidered. To use the theoretical stress concentration factors at these points would be too conservative. The use of fatigue strength reduction factor is recommended. This factor is a stress intensification factor that accounts for the effect of a local struc- tural discontinuity on the fatigue strength. The fatigue strength reduction factor does not have to exceed a value of 5.0, whereas

a theoretical stress concentration value is unlimited. The Code

recommends that a value of 4.0 be applied to the backside of fil- let welds. This subsection also has some stress indices suggested for application to pressure stresses at openings, provided that the opening meets all the requirements of paragraph NE-3338. For openings that do not meet these requirements and for other local structural discontinuities, the fatigue strength reduction factors must be established by analytical and/or experimental means. The use of theoretical stress concentration factor is convenient and commonly employed.

Another factor that may be applicable to the range of peak stress intensity is the K e value obtained from the simplified elastic- plastic analysis of paragraph NE-3228.3. If the range of primary plus secondary stress intensity exceeds the 3S m allowable, the Code allows the through-thickness thermal-bending stresses, which have some characteristics of peak stresses, to be deleted from the range. However, a penalty factor, K e , is applied to the range of peak stresses. This factor is a function of the mate-rial and the calculated range of primary plus secondary stress inten- sity, and can have a value of up to 3.33. The stress intensity amplitudes plotted on S-N curves are calculated by multiplying the test strain values by the material modulus of elasticity, the value of which is shown on each curve. If the value of the modu- lus of elasticity used in the stress analysis (to arrive at the range of elstically calculated stresses) is different from that used for plotting the curve, a correction factor must be applied. This factor

is the ratio of the modulus of elasticity given on the design fatigue

curve to the value of the modulus of elasticity used in the analy- sis. Since an operating cycle could cover a range of temperatures and the modulus of elasticity is a temperature-dependent value, the question often arises regarding what value of temperature to use to establish this ratio. It is commonly believed that using an average temperature over the range is adequate, and this is com- monly what is done.



Rules for buckling analysis are provided in NE-3133. These rules cover shells and formed heads under external pressure and cylindrical shells under uniform axial compression, and include criteria for sizing of stiffeners. These rules are the same as those in Section VIII and in other subsections of Section III, and have been in the Codes for several decades. They were derived by applying knockdown factors, obtained from tests, to the classical buckling solutions. These factors are consistent with the out-of- round-ness and deviation-from-true form tolerances that are allowed. The design margins are not uniform for all loadings and

all geometries, and they range from approximately 2.0 to 3.0. If the design-by-formula option of this Code is adopted, the use of these rules is mandatory. If the design-by-analysis option of NE-3200 is used, the analy- sis for compressive stresses must be in accordance with the provi- sions of NE-3222. This paragraph allows the use of buckling rules of paragraph NE-3133. It also allows the use of calculating the critical buckling stress by any one of three methods and the appli- cation of a design factor of three. One method of calculating the critical stress is by rigorous analysis, which includes the effects of geometric imperfections and large deformations, but this is a diffi- cult and expensive option; the expected imperfections are difficult to predict and model. The second method of calculating the criti- cal values is by applying a “knockdown factor” to the buckling stresses obtained from a classical linear analysis. The knockdown factors are to account for the difference in buckling stress of a perfect shell and a fabricated shell constructed to certain imper- fection tolerances. These factors are obtained from tests of mod- els fabricated to tolerances allowed by this Code. This is the most commonly used method of establishing critical stress values and is the method by which buckling rules of most Codes have been derived. The third option is the test of models under the same conditions as those expected for the actual vessel. Again, this can be an expensive option and is open to interpretation regarding the size and details of the model. With the exception of some of the containment vessels (which are designed for dynamic loadings) for which a rigorous analysis has been performed, most containment vessels are designed either by the rules of NE-3133 or by the alternative rules of Code Case N-284. It has been recognized for some time that the rules of NE-3133 are not current and neither cover all geometries and loadings normally encountered on containment vessels nor pro- vide uniform and reasonable safety margins for all geometries and loadings. In the mid-1970s, the ASME formed a group to develop rules for design of containment vessels under compressive stresses. Most containment vessel designs are controlled by buckling either caused by environmental loads such as earthquakes or caused by specified operating dynamic pressures that generate vacuum con- ditions. Most such loadings are nonaxisymmetric and nonuniform in the axial direction, which results in nonuniform compressive stresses that cannot be easily analyzed by the rules of NE-3133. This recognition led to the need for a more complete and rigorous set of rules. The ASME Task Force worked on such alternative rules for several years, the result of which was Code Case N-284. The rules of this Code Case were based mostly on the research performed and papers published by Clarence Miller. The original Code Case contained many typographical errors. These errors were corrected, the Code Case was improved, and Revision 1 of the Case was published. Code Case N-284 covers many geometries that the rules of the Code do not address, including ring- and/or stringer-stiffened cylinders, one-way or two-way stiffened spherical shells and formed heads, and torroidal/ellipsoidal shells. Many loadings other than those addressed by the Code are also included, some of which are overturning moment across the entire vessel cross sec- tion, in-plane shear, unequal biaxial compressive stresses in spherical shells and formed heads, and thermal stresses. Interaction relationships are provided for evaluation of any com- binations of loads for which allowables are included. The design margin recommended in the Code Case for both the design condi- tions and the Service Level A and B Limits is a uniform value of 2.0. For Service Level C Limits, this value may be reduced to

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Chapter 9

1.67; for Service Level D Limits, a value of 1.34 is recommended. These design margins are lower than those of the Code rules and reflect the more rigorous approach of the Code Case. Some addi- tional safety margin is introduced into the rules by the fact that the knockdown factors, which are used to develop the critical buckling values, are based on the lower bound of the test data. The use of these design margins (or factors of safety), as well as the use of the Code Case as an alternative to the Code rules, must be approved by the owner and the jurisdictional authority. The use of the aforementioned design margins is controversial and has not been universally accepted. However, the methodology of the Code Case has been extensively used not only on containment vessels, but also on many thin-shell structures such as storage tanks. The use of the Code Case, especially if the proposed design margins are used, will result in more economical designs either from less shell thickness or from a smaller number of stiffeners. The size of stiffeners will also be significantly smaller than that required by the Code rules. The Code always uses an n of 2 to determine the size of rings, whereas the Code Case recognizes the fact that rings are tied to the shell and, as a result, are forced to buckle in a greater number of nodes. The Code Case has some general guidelines for the treatment of the effect of openings on shell buckling. Based on experience and test results, it is concluded that reinforced openings will not deteriorate the buckling capacity of the shell as long as the open- ing diameter does not exceed 10% of the shell diameter. The effect of larger diameter openings must be considered in the design report. The rules of the Code Case are limited to shells with a radius-to-thickness ratio not greater than 1000 and a shell thickness not less than in. For thinner shells, it is felt that geo- metric nonlinear effects become significant and cannot be simply accounted for in the design rules. Some guidelines on performing stress analysis and bifurcation analysis are also provided in the Code Case. One difficulty associ- ated with performing theoretical buckling analysis is the fact that the knockdown factors, reflecting the difference between perfect shells and fabricated shells, need to be accounted for. Such fac- tors, however, are different for different loadings. For a vessel subject to combination of loadings, it would be difficult to deter- mine the appropriate knockdown factor to apply to the theoretical results for arriving at critical values. One suggestion to bypass this problem is to apply the appropriate knockdown factor to each loading component and then use such amplified loads for per- forming the analysis. The resulting Eigenvalue is the design mar- gin (safety margin) for the applied loading combination. Some guidelines are also provided for the treatment of local discontinuity membrane stresses. For compressive membrane stresses that are not uniform along the axis of the shell, a conserv- ative approach would be to assume that the maximum value is applicable over the entire panel. This in certain cases can result in overly conservative designs or in fact may be impractical to com- ply with. An example of such a case is the circumferential mem- brane stress generated at the fixed end of a cylindrical shell due to temperature increase. In fact, many cylindrical containment ves- sels have a concrete flat bottom and are subject to a design tem- perature condition. The fixity of the base in the radial direction results in very large compressive circumferential membrane stresses at the base. However, these stresses attenuate as the dis- tance from the base is increased. The Code Case suggests that an



average value of membrane stress within a distance of from

the point of fixity be used for comparison with the hoop compres- sion allowables. The reasoning is that a shell does not buckle at


one point, but rather that it will buckle over a distance of at least one attenuation length. Even this proposed approach is very con- servative, as the same restraint at the base that causes the high stresses will stiffen the shell and prevent the formation of buckles within a reasonable multiple of the attenuation distance. It would not be difficult to perform a bifurcation analysis of such details, which model the actual geometry and the calculated distribution of stresses. Applicable knockdown factors will need to be applied


the results to determine the critical value for a vessel fabricated


the tolerances of the Code. The knockdown factors of the Code

Case are based on assuming that Code tolerances are met. If the actual vessel imperfections are significantly less than those allowed, credit may be taken for this fact and the higher values of knockdown factor may be used. A flow chart at the end of the

Code Case N-284 directs the user through various steps needed to establish the allowables and to demonstrate that interaction rela- tionships for various loading combinations are met. Establishing allowables for each individual load is rather straightforward except for the case of shells stiffened in two directions. For such shells, an energy approach is used, which may require a number of iterations to solve. Because hand calculations would be very tedious, a computer program for such shells is recommended. The use of interaction equations would also be very time consuming to perform by hand and is best done by a computer program. To cre- ate an economical design for a vessel that is designed for buckling may involve a number of trials. There are trade-offs between shell thickness and number of stiffeners, between the number of stiffen-ers and the size of stiffeners, and between one-way and two-way stiffening. There are no rules of thumb for such determi- nations and factors as the unit cost of material versus fabrication cost, possible need for post-weld heat treatment, shipping clear- ances, and many others must be considered. Since the introduction of the Code Case, a great deal of addi- tional work has been performed by the PVRC and the ASME Code Committee to develop more current and justifiable rules for design of shell structures subject to buckling. The results of the PVRC work are included in WRC Bulletin 406 [3]. The work of this Bulletin and the recommendations therein have been used to develop a set of Alternative Rules for the buckling design of Section VIII vessels, Divisions 1 and 2. These alternative rules were published in Code Case 2286. The alternative rules of the Code Cases mostly provide higher stress allowables than those of the Code, indicating that the Code rules are generally too conser- vative. The alternative rules were put in the Code Case to provide

a trial period before they were incorporated into Section VIII.

These new rules are anticipated to be eventually adopted by Section III as well. The buckling stress allowables of the alterna- tive rules are based on theoretical buckling equations, which have been reduced by knockdown factors, and on plasticity reduction factors that are determined from tests (similar to the approach of Code Case N-284). The allowable stresses are then calculated by applying a design factor to the buckling stress. The design factors provided by the Code Case range from 2.0, for stresses up to the proportional limit of the material, to 1.67 at yield stress. In addi- tion to what is covered in the present Code, equations are provid- ed for column buckling, which may be needed for tall, slender vessels, for bending over the full cross section of cylindrical and conical shells, for ring-stiffened cylinders and cones under axial compression, for spherical shells and formed heads under nonuni- form stress, and for combined loadings. (For more details on this Code Case, see the chapter on Section VIII, Division 2.) Code Case 2286, being based on theoretical buckling values being

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reduced by “knockdown” factors based on test results, meets the provisions of NE-3222 regarding the procedure. However, the design margins of this Code Case do not meet NE-3222 and must be adjusted. Case N-284-2 was published in 2007. This revision corrects numerous errors, mostly in the design formulas, that were published in N-284-1. Case 2286-1, for Section VIII, Division 1 and 2 applications, was published in 2001. Case N-759 was copied from Case 2286-1, for use in nuclear applications, and was published in 2007.


Rules for reinforcement of cone-to-cylinder junctions are pro- vided in Appendix XXII-1000. These rules are very similar to those of Section VIII, Division 2, and they are applicable to reducer sections where all elements have a common axis and the half-apex angle does not exceed 60 deg. Criteria are provided for determining the need for reinforcement at either end of the transi- tion cone. A formula is given for calculating the required area of reinforcement. Any excess material in the cone or cylinder, within certain distance from the junction, may be counted as reinforce- ment. Any additional area of reinforcement, which may be required, must be located within a specified distance from the junction. If the junction is to be considered as a line of restraint for vessel external pressure design, a moment of inertia criteria for the junction is to be met as well. These criteria are based on ring buckling for a ring composed of the reinforcing element plus the participating portions of the cone and cylinder. These are very conservative criteria because they assume an isolated ring that buckles into two nodes. The actual ring, being tied into the adjoining shells, is forced into a higher number of nodes, requir- ing more of an in-plane load to cause it to buckle. The criteria for the required area at the junction are old and undocumented. More justifiable rules for cone-to-cylinder reinforcement are being developed by the PVRC. For half-apex angles exceeding 60 deg. or whenever the designer chooses, the design may be based on special analysis as an alter- native to the rules discussed in the preceding paragraph. Such special analysis can be easily performed by a shells-of-rev-olution or finite element program. The calculated stresses at the junction must meet all the stress allowables of Subsection NE. In such an analysis, the effects of buckling must also be considered, in which case a design margin of 3.3 on theoretical buckling pressure is appropriate.


Some of the basic stress allowables may be relaxed if a plastic analysis is performed. The rules for plastic analysis are specified in NE-3228. The limits on local membrane stress intensity, primary plus secondary stress intensity, thermal stress ratchet, and pro- gressive distortion of nonintegral connections need not be satis- fied if a plastic analysis is performed. The results of this analysis are considered acceptable if shakedown occurs and if the defor- mations do not exceed specified limits. The limits on local mem- brane stress intensity and primary plus secondary stress intensity may also be waived if it can be shown by limit analysis or by tests that the specified loadings do not exceed two-thirds of the lower- bound collapse load.

Another exemption to the basic stress allowables is the Simplified Elastic–Plastic Analysis procedure of NE-3228.3. This provision allows exceeding the specified limit on the range of pri- mary plus secondary stress intensity under certain conditions. The limit must be satisfied with the exclusion of thermal bending. However, the fatigue analysis is penalized by applying a factor to the calculated peak stress intensity amplitude. The value of the factor depends on the material as well as on the value of the calculated range of primary plus secondary stress intensity. The jus- tification for this provision stems from the fact that thermal bending stresses have some attributes of peak stress. This exemption usually does not have to be resorted to for the design of containment ves- sels. However, for reactor vessels, because of more rapid tempera- ture fluctuations and thicker sections, the thermal-bending stresses are significant and the use of this provision is common.


Rules for design by formula are provided in NE-3300. These rules (which are similar to the design rules of Section VIII) are applicable to the design loadings and Service Levels A and B Loadings if such loadings do not include substantial mechanical or thermal loads. Substantial loads are defined as those that result in stresses exceeding 10% of the primary stresses induced by the design pressure. If the mechanical and thermal loads are substan- tial, and also for Service Levels C and D, the rules for design by analysis must be used. The allowable stresses to be used in these formulas are 1.1 times the allowables for Section VIII, Division 1. This will result in vessels with about 10% less wall thickness than Section VIII, Division 1 vessels designed for the same conditions. The design formulas for formed heads are the same as those for Section VIII, Division 1. It is generally recognized that these rules were developed on the basis of experience, rather than research. For several years, work has been ongoing within both the PVRC and the ASME Code Committee to update these rules. Two ellip- soidal head models were tested for the PVRC by Praxair, and many analytical studies were performed by Professor Kalnins. Some of this work was published in WRC Bulletin 414 [4]. Based on this work, Code Cases 2260 and 2261 were developed for Divisions 1 and 2 of Section VIII. These Cases were issued for a trial period before they were incorporated into the ASME Codes. These alternative rules result in generally less thickness require- ments, but for a few materials, they require a greater thickness than that of the existing rules.


For an opening in a vessel or vessel part not in cyclic service, the area replacement rules of NE-3330 are allowed in lieu of an analysis. The same applies to openings in vessels or parts, which are subject to cyclic service but can be rendered exempt from detailed fatigue analysis by the rules of this subsection. The area replacement rules are similar to those of Section VIII, Division 2 prior to the 2007 Edition, with some of the features of Division 1 also included. These rules assure that the collapse pressure of the opening area is at least the same as that for the unpenetrated portion of the shell. However, no conclusions may be drawn regard- ing the fatigue resistance of the intersection and nozzle attach- ment details. The fatigue exemption rules are based on assuming the highest fatigue strength reduction factor consistent with the

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Chapter 9

details allowed. Meeting these conservatively derived rules ensures that the opening area is safe from a fatigue standpoint. For a vessel or vessel part in cyclic service that does not meet the fatigue exemption rules, the limits on primary and secondary stresses need to be met and a fatigue analysis must be performed in the vicinity of the openings. The primary stress limits may be considered satisfied if the area replacement rules are met. The limits on primary plus secondary stresses may also be considered satisfied if, in the vicinity of the opening, the stress intensity resulting from external nozzle loads and thermal effects is shown to be less than 1.5 times the basic stress allowable. This rule is based on the assumption that the pressure-induced stresses in this vicinity are limited to 1.5 times the basic stress allowable by meeting the area replacement rules. This would ensure that the sum of stresses from pressure, external loadings, and thermal effects will meet the limit of 3.0 times the basic stress allowable. If a fatigue analysis is required in the vicinity of the opening, the peak stresses may be determined by one of three acceptable meth- ods. The first method is the use of analytical techniques, such as finite element programs. If this method is used, all loadings need to be included and the mesh needs to be fine enough to produce the maximum peak stresses; generating an adequate mesh may be difficult, particularly in welded areas. The second method allowed is experimental stress analysis, which is based on the use of data from experiments. If this option is chosen, the requirements of Appendix II must be followed and met. The third method is the stress index method, which is based on the use of available ana- lytical results and test data in the creation of indices to be applied to the nominal shell stresses. The term “stress index” is defined as the ratio of the stress component under consideration to the com- puted stress component in the unpenetrated shell. Stress indices are provided for pressure loading, for a limited range of geometric parameters, in this Code. For geometries not covered in Subsection NE and for loadings other than pressure, such indices may be inde- pendently determined and used. However, the Code does not pro- vide guidelines on the extent of analytical and/or test results that are required to establish indices for a range of geometries.


Rules for bolted flange connections are provided in Appendix XI. These rules are applicable to Class 2 and Class 3 components as well as to Class MC vessels. The design rules only provide for hydrostatic end loads and gasket-seating loads, and are very simi- lar to those of Section VIII. A discussion of design considerations for bolted flange connections is included in Appendix XII. This Mandatory Appendix is very similar to a Non-Mandatory Appendix in Section VIII, which provides suggestions for consid- eration. Only circular flanges designated Class RF (raised face) are covered by the rules of Appendix XI. Rules for Class FF (flat face) flanges are provided in Non-Mandatory Appendix L. The design rules in Appendix XI are used primarily for internal pres- sure, but some rules are also provided for external pressure. Designing a flange involves the selection of the gasket material, type, and dimensions; flange facing; bolting; hub proportions; flange width; and flange thickness. It is recommended that bolted flange connections conforming to the standards listed in Subsection NE be used rather than customized designed flanges. Such standard flanges are usually more economical not only because of the lack of involvement in the design effort, but mainly because standard flanges are smaller cross-sectionally than

designed flanges. It is commonly recognized that most standard flanges do not meet the design rules of Section III or Section VIII, but their use is justified in light of successful past experience. If standard flanges are not used, the bolted flange connections are to be designed for two independent loading conditions. The first one is the design condition, which addresses the hydrostatic end force of the design pressure. The internal pressure tends to separate the joint. The bolt loads must be adequate to resist this and still provide adequate clamping of the flanges to prevent leak- age. The minimum bolt load is a function of the design pressure, the gasket material, and the effective gasket or contact area to be kept tight under pressure. The material properties used for this condition are those at the design temperature. The second condi- tion to be designed for is the gasket seating condition. For this condition, the bolts are loaded to seat the gasket at atmospheric temperature and pressure. The minimum initial bolt load consid- ered to be adequate for gasket seating is a function of gasket material and the effective gasket or contact area to be seated. The required bolt load is the greater of the values calculated for the above two conditions. The flange is then designed for the forces and moments generated by this bolt load. However, if the bolts are larger than they have to be by the rules and stress allowables of this subsection, the flange is designed for a bolt load, which is the average of the required bolt load and the allowable bolt load. This is a safety feature built into the rules to somewhat protect the flanges from accidental overloading of the bolts. The gasket factors and minimum design seating stresses for various gasket materials are given in Table XI-3221.1-1. These values, which have been adopted from Section VIII, were based on empirical work prior to the 1940’s and may not be very accu- rate. A great deal of work has been ongoing within the PVRC and other research organizations to create more current and accurate design factors for various gasket materials. For several years, the ASME Code Committee has had a special working group devel- oping state-of-the-art rules for the design of bolted flange connec- tions. At the time of this writing, a draft of the proposed rules, intended to replace the existing rules, is under review. It is expected that these proposed rules will be adopted for use on Section VIII and Section III vessels soon. Materials used in the construction of bolted flange connections must comply with the material requirements of Subsection NE. Flanges made from ferritic steels and designed to Appendix XI must be given a normalizing or full-annealing heat treatment when the thickness of the flange section exceeds 3 in. There are detailed requirements provided for fabricated hubbed flanges. Among other precautions, the use of plate is limited to avoid possible problems with opening of laminations. It is recommended that bolts or studs not be smaller than in. diameter and that, if smaller bolts are used, ferrous bolting materials must be of alloy steel. Precautions must be taken to avoid overstressing small diameter bolts. Considerations of Appendix XII are to supplement the design rules of Appendix XI and are intended to provide guidelines for obtaining a serviceable design. One of the most important of these considerations is the proportioning of the bolting, that is, deter- mining the size and number of bolts. Considerations are also offered for the bolt-up operation. It is recognized that there is usu- ally a difference between the design bolt stress and the bolt stress that might actually exist or that might actually be needed to ensure leak-tightness. The tightening of the bolts must be con- trolled to ensure that, on one hand, the bolt load is adequate to result in a leak-tight connection and, on the other hand, it is not so excessive that it causes the yielding of the bolt or flange materials.



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It must be recognized that the initial bolt load may relax over time because of creep and relaxation of the gasket, especially in the case of softer gasket materials. A decrease in bolt stress may also occur in service at elevated temperatures as a result of creep in bolting or flange material. Such factors should be taken into account. Excessive bolt load can also result in leakage, due to yielding of the bolting or flange material or crushing of the gas- ket. Another very important item in bolting design is the question of whether the necessary bolt stress is actually realized and what special means of tightening must be employed. Most joints are tightened manually by ordinary wrenching. For such cases, Appendix XII offers a formula for determining the resulting bolt stress depending on bolt diameter. This is, however, an oversim- plification and may not be very accurate. Selection of proper gasket type and material is also a part of flange design. The choice of the gaskets, among other factors, depends on the desired degree of leak tightness, the operating and design temperatures, any possible radiation effects, and the fre- quency of replacement. Containment vessels are normally required to meet certain leak-tightness criteria during an integrated leak test. Main closure flanges and other gasketed connections are normally the major sources of leakage. The gasket properties during test and over the intended lifetime of the gasket must be considered by the designer. However, gaskets used in tests are seldom used in service.


The definitions of Joint Categories are the same as those of Section VIII. Categories A, B, C, and D refer to the location of a joint in the vessel and not to the type of the joint; instead, these categories are used for specifying special requirements regarding joint type and degree of examination. Although these four cate- gories will cover most of the welds in a vessel, they do not cover all weld. For example, welds joining attachments or supports to a vessel are not categorized. Figure NE-3351-1 (reproduced here as Fig. 9.7) illustrates typical joint locations included in each category. The specified requirements for each joint category must be met for all welds falling within that category. The fabrication and examination requirements for each category are specified in Articles NE-4000 and NE-5000, respectively.

For category D joints that attach nozzles to vessel shells, a num- ber of options are provided. However, not all the details permitted by Section VIII, Division 1 or 2, are permitted by this subsection. Design requirements are provided for butt-welded nozzles, full- penetration corner-welded nozzles, nozzles attached to deposited weld metals, partial-penetration welded nozzles, and other items. It is important to point out that the fabrication and examination requirements have to be considered along with the design require- ments to assure that all requirements are met. Overall, the requirements for nozzle attachment welds are considerably more restrictive here than those of Section VIII, Division 1 or 2. The requirements for head attachment welds are very similar to those of Section VIII. The requirements for transition tapers, and the head skirts are identical. The requirements for head attach- ments using corner joints are similar to those of Section VIII, with some differences in weld geometry requirements. For noz- zle-attachment welds, weld-strength calculations are required if details other than full-penetration welds are used. However, no detailed procedures are specified for these calculations. Requirements are provided for tapered transitions, among which is the same 3:1 minimum slope that exists in other ASME Codes.


The fabrication requirements of Article NE-4000 include requirements for certification of materials and fabrication. All heat treatments, tests, repairs, and examinations performed by the Certificate Holder must be certified and the reports of such treat- ments and the results of all tests, repairs and examinations must be provided to the Inspector. It is important to keep in mind that if the vessel material is subjected to heat treatment that has not been covered by treatment of test coupons and that may alter physical properties, the tensile and impact tests must be repeated by the Certificate Holder. This subsection includes detailed requirements for material traceability. All pressure-retaining materials must carry identification markings that will remain distinguishable until the component is assembled or installed. If the material is divided, the marks must be transferred to the parts. As-built sketches are required to identify each piece of material with the CMTR. The

to identify each piece of material with the CMTR. The FIG. 9.7 WELDED JOINT LOCATIONS TYPICAL

FIG. 9.7


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material marking requirements of this subsection are supple- mented by the rules of Subsection NCA. For material that has been delivered and accepted, provisions are provided for repair by the manufacturer, if defects exceeding those allowed by the material requirements are detected during the fabrication. Such repaired material may be used if the condi- tion is corrected to meet the requirements specified for such mate- rial–with some exceptions. This subsection requires that all forming processes, with a few exceptions, be qualified. A procedure qualification test must be conducted by using specimens taken from the material of the same specification, grade, or class, and also by heat treatment. After subjecting the specimens to the equivalent forming and treatment as the vessel, it must be shown that the impact proper- ties are met. Forming procedure qualification is not required if the material does not require impact testing or if the final forming strain is less than 0.5%, as well as under certain other conditions. Detailed requirements are given for performance of the procedure qualification tests. The tests must be performed on three different heats of material both before and after straining to establish the effects of the forming and subsequent heat treatment operations. It is also required that the specimens be taken from the tension side of the strained material. The procedure qualification must simu- late the maximum percent surface strain of the production material, which may be done either by employing a bending process simi- lar to that used for fabrication or by direct tension on the speci- men. Sufficient Charpy V-notch (CVN) specimens must be taken from each of the three heats of material to establish a transition curve showing both the upper and the lower shelves. Depending on the product form, it may be necessary to plot the transition curves using both lateral expansion and energy level data. Using the results of the impact test data from each of the three heats taken both before and after straining, the maximum change in NDT must be determined. When lateral expansion is the criterion, either the maximum change in temperature or the maximum change in lateral expansion must be determined. To be acceptable, the formed material used in the vessel must have impact proper- ties before forming that are sufficient to compensate for the maxi- mum loss of impact properties from qualified forming procedure used. These requirements go beyond those of Section VIII and most other pressure vessel codes and contribute to the higher cost of nuclear vessels.



ASME Codes, in general, do not include very many tolerance requirements; Subsection NE is no exception. Similar to Section VIII, forming tolerances are provided for some commonly used shells, and welded joint misalignment tolerances are longitudinal and circumferential welds. (As stated in the Foreword, “The Code does not fully address tolerances.”) When dimensions, sizes, or other parameters are not specified with tolerances, the values of these parameters are considered nominal and allowable tolerances and variances must be determined by the designer, based on engi- neering judgement and standard practice. The most prominent tolerance in the Code is the forming toler- ance for cylindrical, conical, or spherical shells. If plates are formed by rolling, it is required that the ends be first shaped to the proper curvature by preliminary rolling or forming to avoid flat spots along the completed joints. For the completed vessel, the maximum difference in cross-sectional diameters must be within

1% of the nominal diameter “at all cross sections.” When the cross section passes through an opening, this permissible differ- ence may be increased by 2% of the opening’s inside diameter. When these measurements are actually being made, judgment must be used in deciding how many cross sections to measure. There are no universal guidelines, and the Inspector must be satis- fied that adequate checks have been made. Normally, two orthog- onal cross sections are checked at either end of each fabricated section. If tolerances are met marginally, additional cross sections may have to be measured. For vessels designed for external pressure, the tolerances on maximum deviation from true theoretical form must also be satis- fied, in addition to the above cross-sectional tolerance. The intent of this tolerance is to prevent curvature deviations, and especially flat spots, that may contribute to shell buckling. These tolerances are connected with the knockdown factors used for determining the buckling rules. The test results on which knockdown factors are based are for shells meeting this tolerance. The permissible deviations from true circular form are given by Figure NE- 4221.2-1 as a fraction of shell thickness. The values of these devi- ations range from 0.3 times thickness to 1.0 times thickness. To check for these deviations, a template having the theoretical cur- vature is needed. The required length of the template is deter- mined by the use of Figure NE-4221.2-2, and is a function of shell dimensions. The Code requires that both inward and out- ward deviations be limited, although the primary concern is with flat spots, which have greater radius than the theoretical. Again, the location and extent of measurements is left to judgment. The aforementioned tolerances are almost the same as those of Section VIII, Division 1. However, Subsection NE allows devia- tions from these tolerances if they are justified in the design report and certified by a registered professional engineer. Another exception to these tolerances is allowed for vessel parts fabricated from pipe. If the pipe meets the tolerances of the material specifi- cations, it does not have to meet the tolerance requirements of this subsection. Another unique feature of this subsection is the allow- able localized thin areas. A locally thin area is allowed, as long as the adjacent material meets the nozzle reinforcement require- ments. Code Case 2243 for Section VIII, Division 1, permitted local thin spots, but the rules are based on finite element analyses and is only applicable for internal pressure. The provisions of the Case were added to UG-32(a) and Appendix 32 in the 2003 Addenda to Section VIII. Tolerances for formed heads, in this subsection, are again very similar to those of Section VIII, Division 1. The problem is that the diameter and height of the top head of a Class MC containment vessel are so great that the toler- ances on shape cannot be verified. For the bottom head, the toler- ances are difficult to verify. Tolerances for maximum allowable offset in welded joints are given in Table NE-4232-1 for longitudinal and circumferential welds. For this purpose, joints in spherical shells, in heads, and between cylindrical shells and hemispherical heads are to be con- sidered as longitudinal welds. Any offset within these allowable tolerances must be faired to at least a 3:1 taper over the width of the finished weld.


Fabrication requirements for each weld category are specified in NE-4240. Category A weld joints must be full-penetration butt- welded joints. Joints that have been welded from one side with

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backing strip that has been removed and those welded from one side without backing strip are acceptable, provided that the weld root side meets certain conditions. The surface must be sufficiently free from coarse ripples, grooves, overlaps, and abrupt ridges to be suit- able for proper interpretation of radiographic and other required NDE. Undercuts must not exceed in. and may not encroach on the minimum required thickness. Such weld quality for the root side would be difficult to achieve unless consumable inserts are used. Category B welded joints must be full-penetration welds, with some exceptions. Joints made with consumable inserts or gas backup, or with metal backing rings that are later removed, are acceptable. Joints prepared with opposing lips to form an integral backing strip, and joints with backing strips that are not later removed, are also acceptable. Category C welds must be full-penetration welds, with some minor exceptions. Some acceptable details are shown in Figs. NE-4243-1 and NE-4243-2. Other details are acceptable if they meet all the requirements. Hubs on flat heads or tubesheets for butt welding to the adjacent shell or head may not be machined from plate, which avoids the opening up of laminations from the through-thickness stress. Forgings must be used for this purpose, with the full minimum tensile strength and elongation require- ments met in the through-thickness direction. Category D welds must be one of the details specifically allowed. The nozzle attachment details allowed are limited to full- penetration corner welds, nozzles attached to deposited weld metal, certain partial-penetration weld details, and internal threads. Each detail is subject to specific dimensional require- ments. Transition radii are needed at all corners to minimize stress concentration and the possibility of crack formation.




For pressure-retaining materials and attachments thereto, only those welding processes may be used that are capable of produc- ing welds in accordance with the welding procedure qualification requirements of Section IX and this subsection. No specific weld processes are listed as being acceptable. Stud welding and capaci- tor discharge welding are restricted to nonstructural and tempo- rary attachments. Inertia and continuous drive friction welding are prohibited. Each Certificate Holder is responsible for welding by his/her organization. He/she must maintain a record of his/her qualified welding procedures and that of the welders and welding operators qualified by him/her as well. These records must be reviewed, verified, and signed by the Inspector. Each welder or welding operator must apply the identification mark assigned to him/her by the Certificate Holder on or adjacent to all permanent welded joints. No welding is allowed until the welding procedures have been qualified. All welding procedure qualifications must meet the require- ments of Section IX and supplementary requirements of Subsection NE. For ferritic materials, the PWHT time at tempera- ture must be at least 80% of the maximum time to be applied to the weld material. Removal of test coupons must conform to Section IX. The impact specimen shall be located so that the lon- gitudinal axis of the specimen is at least of thickness and not less than 3 in. from the weld surface of the test assembly. When impact tests of the heat-affected zone (HAZ) are required, speci- mens shall be taken from the welding procedure qualification test as prescribed in NE-4334. For plate or forging, the axis of the



weld shall be oriented either parallel or perpendicular to the prin- cipal direction of rolling or forging. Welding procedure qualifications impact testing requirements are specified in NE-4335. Impact testing of weld metal and HAZ is required any time the base material is to be impact tested. The

exemption for low stress, which may exempt the base metal from impact testing, does not apply to the weld metal and HAZ. Impact tests of the weld metal are required for welding procedure qualifi- cation tests for production joints exceeding in. thickness when the weld is made to a base material that requires impact testing. The impact test requirements and acceptance standards for welding pro- cedure qualification weld metal shall be the same as those for the base materials. When joining two materials having different tough- ness requirements, the test requirements and acceptance criteria of either material may be used. A welding procedure specification qualified to the impact test requirements of Subsection NB or Subsection NC is acceptable for use on a vessel to this subsection. For the HAZ of the welding procedure qualifications, Charpy V-notch impact testing is required when the thickness of weld exceeds in. and either of the base materials requires impact test- ing (with some minor exceptions). In general, the rules for weld- ing procedure qualification testing are much more detailed here than those of Section VIII.






Subsection NE includes extensive detailed rules regarding welds, which go beyond most other Codes. Many precautions and require- ments regarding the control, identification, storage, and handling of electrodes and other welding materials are included. Rules are also provided for cleanliness and protection of welding surfaces. Backing rings must be composed of materials that are compatible with base metal and must also be continuous, with splices made by full-penetration welds. Maximum limits are specified for the height of weld reinforcement on either face of a butt weld. These values range from to in., depending on the thickness. Engineers may add tolerances to these limits based on engineering judgment. There are requirements on the shape and size of fillet welds and for the welding of clad parts. Requirements are specified for vari- ous types of attachments. Rules are also provided for attachment of stiffening rings to shells. Defects detected by examination or testing must be eliminated and repaired when needed. Weld metal surface defects may be removed by grinding or machining, pro- vided that the remaining thickness is not reduced below the required design thickness. The depression after defect elimination must be blended uniformly and the area must be examined by magnetic-particle (MT) or dye-penetrant (PT) methods. If repair by welding is needed, defects may be removed by mechanical or thermal means. The prepared area must be examined by PT or MT. The weld repair must be made using welding material, welders, and welding procedures that have been qualified, and the weld repair must be examined in the same manner as the orig- inal weld and, if required, be heat treated.






Requirements are specified for preheat and Postweld heat treat- ment. The need for and temperature of preheat are dependent on a number of factors, such as the chemical analysis, degree of

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restraint of the part, elevated temperature, physical properties, and material thicknesses. Some practices for preheating are provided in Appendix D, as a general guide. Guidelines of Appendix D are non-mandatory suggestions that do not necessarily ensure satis- factory completion of the welded joint and must be supplemented by experience and engineering judgment. As one determines the interpass temperature for quenched and tempered materials, it is important to consider the effects of temperature so that detrimen- tal effects on the material mechanical properties are avoided. Postweld heat treatment may be accomplished by any suitable methods of heating and cooling, subject to the temperature con- trols specified in this subsection. All welds, including repair welds, must be heat treated unless specifically exempted. Some of the more common exemptions are as follows:

(1) nonferrous materials; (2) welds exempted in Table NE-4622.7(b)-1; (3) welds subjected to temperature above the specified PWHT temperature range; (4) extensions and welds joining these extensions to nozzles, openings, etc., under certain conditions; and (5) nonpressure parts attached to pressure parts, under certain conditions.

During PWHT, the metal temperature must be maintained within the temperature range and for the minimum holding times speci- fied in Table NE-4622.1-1. Unless specifically exempted, all doors, nozzles, openings, frames, and similar welded construction must be welded into a portion of the shell plate, and the welded assembly post-weld heat treated prior to welding into the shell. Time-temperature recordings of all PWHTs must be made avail- able to the Inspector. The need for PWHT depends on nominal thickness, defined as the smallest thickness of the weld; the thick- ness of pressure-retaining materials for structural attachment welds; or the thinner of the pressure-retaining materials being joined. It is not intended that nominal thickness include material provided for forming allowance, thinning, or mill overrun when the excess material does not exceed in. For fillet welds, the nom- inal thickness is the throat thickness, and for partial penetration and material repair welds, the nominal thickness is the depth of the weld groove or penetration. When it is impractical to PWHT at the temperature range spec- ified by Table NE-4622.1-1, it is permissible to perform the PWHT of certain materials at lower temperatures for longer peri- ods of time in accordance with Table NE-4622.4(c)-1. This same alternative is also provided by Section VIII, with somewhat dif- ferent values. It is a recent belief that these reduced temperatures at longer times are not equivalent to full temperature treatment and some companies do not allow the use of this alternative. This subject is being investigated by the ASME Code Committee and the PVRC. When non–pressure-retaining material is welded to pressure-retaining material, the PWHT temperature range of the pressure-retaining material controls. The exemption rules of Table NE-4622.7(b)-1 (reproduced here as Table 9.1) are different from the PWHT requirements of Section VIII. The maximum reported carbon content is one of the determinants here. For P-No. 1 materials with carbon content of 0.3% or less, materials with thicknesses up to 1.25 in. (without preheat) and 1.5 in. (with preheat) are exempt from PWHT. If the carbon content exceeds this amount, the exemption thicknesses become 0.75 in. and 1.25 in., respectively. In general, all penetra- tions with inside diameters greater than 2 in. must be heat treated when welded to the vessel shell. All attachment welds, other that



those joining nozzles, to shells greater than 1.5 in. thickness must be heat treated if the weld nominal thickness exceeds 0.75 in. For the PWHT operation above 800 F, the rate of heating and cooling is limited to 400 divided by the maximum thickness in in. of the material being heat treated. This value cannot exceed 400 and need not be less than 100. This is intended to control the ther- mal gradients through the thickness so that they are not harmful to the material. Another control is imposed by the requirement that during the heating and cooling, there shall not be a variation in temperature greater than 250°F within any 15 ft. interval of weld length. A number of options are provided for the method of PWHT. The preferred method is to heat the entire vessel in a fur- nace as one heat. If it is impractical to place the entire vessel in the furnace, it is permissible to have PWHT of segments in more than one heat. If this option is used, a minimum of 5 ft. overlap between heated sections must be provided to ensure full coverage of all points along the vessel. The portion of the vessel outside the furnace must be shielded so that the temperature gradient is not harmful. This Code also allows local PWHT if a complete band is heated and that gradients are controlled so that harmful thermal stresses are not developed. The Code does not define “harmful gradients”; the definition is open to interpretation. Generally, large deformation and gross yielding should be avoided, especially in the vicinity of bolted connections and other appurtenances prone to leakage.



The term “examination” in this subsection, as well as other ASME Codes, refers to nondestructive examination (NDE), which most commonly includes radiography (RT), ultrasonic testing (UT), magnetic-particle testing (MT), and dye-penetrant testing (PT). In some Codes and texts, these operations are referred to as “Inspection.” In the context of the ASME Code, “Inspection” refers to the verification activities performed by the third party

Nuclear Inspector.

The examination methods for all ASME Codes are contained in Section V of the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. Other sections and subsections of the Code reference the appropriate methods and have the option of modifying or supplementing the require- ments of these procedures. Each Code section or subsection also specifies the acceptance criteria, consistent with the stress criteria, toughness requirements, and other criteria of that particular book. Allowing larger defects, which result in fabrication savings, would dictate higher margins for establishing design stresses and greater requirements for material toughness. Some Codes, includ- ing VIII-1, provide a trade-off between the degree of examination and the allowable stresses. Subsection NE provides one set of rules for NDE of various joints, but does not provide options. All examinations required by Subsection NE must be per- formed by personnel who are qualified as required by Article NE- 5000. All NDE must be performed in accordance with detailed written procedures that have been proven by actual demonstration and that have been accepted by the Inspector. Subsection NE has requirements for the timing of some of the examinations; for example, RT is allowed to be performed either before or after PWHT (some Codes require that RT be performed after PWHT to ensure that the heat treatment operation has not caused any crack- ing), and MT and PT must be performed after PWHT except for welds in P-No. 1 materials. All dissimilar metal weld joints must be examined after PWHT to ensure that thermal stresses from

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Nominal Thickness,

Max. Reported

Min. Preheat Required, F ( C)

P-Number, (Sec. IX, QW-20)


in. (mm)


Carbon, %

Type of Weld [Note (1)]



[Note (4)]


All welds where the materials being joined are 1 1 2 in. (38 mm) and less, exclusive of welds joining nozzles or penetrations with an I.D. greater than 2 in. (51 mm) to the vessel shell

1 1 4 (32) or less Over 1 1 4 to 1 1 2 (32 to 38) 3 4 (19) or less Over 3 4 to 1 1 2 (19 to 38)


or less





or less



Over 0.30





Over 0.30



All welds joining nozzles and penetrations with an I.D. greater than 2 in. (51 mm) to the vessel shell provided all of the following are satisfied:

(1) the shell thickness does not exceed 1 1 2 in. (38 mm), (2) the size does not exceed NPS 12 (DN300), (3) the ratio of major to minor diameter of non- circular openings does not exceed 1.15, and (4) the weld is at least 1.0 (Rt) 1 2 from any other non-post-weld heat treated weld in the vessel shell.

1 1 4 or less Over 1 1 4 to 1 1 2 (32 to 38) 3 4 (19) or less Over 3 4 to 1 1 2 (19 to 38)


or less





or less



Over 0.30




Over 0.30




All welds in material over 1 1 2 in. (38 mm), exclu- sive of welds joining nozzles or penetrations to the vessel shell

3 4 (19) or less







All welds, including repair welds in material greater than 1 1 2 in. (38mm), but equal to or less than 1 3 4 in. (44 mm) exclusive of welds joining nozzles or penetrations to the vessel shell [Note (2)]


1 3 4 (44) or less






All welds joining nozzles or penetrations with a nominal I.D. of 2 in. (51 mm) and less

3 4 (19) or less







Repairs to welds in subassemblies post-weld heat treated as required by NE-4622.1(b) with the total accumulated repair length of any weld not exceeding 25% of the original weld length

3 4 (44) or less






1 Gr. 1 or Gr. 2

Cladding or repair of cladding [Note (3)] with A-No. 8 or F-No. 43 filler metal in base material of:


1 l 2 in. (38 mm) or less Over 1 l 2 in. to 3 in. (38 mm to 76 mm)















[Note (5)]


Over 3 in. (76 mm)









[Note (6)]

GENERAL NOTE: The exemptions noted in this Table do not apply to electron beam welds in ferritic materials over 1 8 in. (3.2 mm) in thickness.


(1) Where the thickness of material is identified in the Type of Weld column, it is the thickness of the base material at the welded joint. (2) This exemption is limited to SA-299, SA-516, SA-537, and SA-738 materials, under the following conditions:


The exemption from impact testing as provided in NE-2311(a)(8) is not permitted.


For Charpy V Notch Testing per NE-2331(a)(l), the testing criteria are as described in either of the following:

(1) The testing temperature is 10°F (5.6°C) below the Lowest Service Metal Temperature, and the C v energy values are as shown in Table NE-2332.1-2.

(2) The testing temperature is the Lowest Service Metal Temperature, and the C v energy values are increased by 5 ft.-lb. (0.022 kN) over those shown in Table NE-2332.1-2.


For Drop Weight Testing permitted by NE-2331(a)(2), the difference between Lowest Service Metal Temperature and the nil duc- tility transition temperature, (LSMT-T NDT ), is equal to or greater than 10°F + A (5.6°C + A), in which the value of A is deter- mined in accordance with Appendix R.

(3) Maximum process heat input = 150,000 J/in. The maximum resulting hardness of the heat-affected zone in the procedure qualifica- tion test plat shall not exceed 35 Rc. (4) Carbon level of the pressure - retaining materials being joined. (5) Intermediate post–weld soak at not less than 200°F (93°C) for 2-hr minimum. (6) Intermediate post–weld soak at not less than 300°F (149°C) for 2-hr minimum.

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differential expansions have not caused any cracking. The UT of electroslag welds in ferritic materials must be performed after a grain-refining heat treatment or after final PWHT. Subsection NE requires that all full-penetration weld edge preparations in material 2 in. or more in thickness be examined by MT or PT. For this examination, indications with major dimen- sions greater than in. must be considered relevant imperfec- tions. Laminar-type imperfections are acceptable up to 1 in. in length. The extent of such imperfections exceeding 1 in. must be determined by UT and then repaired. For nonlaminar imperfec- tions, the following are unacceptable:



— Linear indications greater than

— Rounded indications with dimensions greater that

— Four or more indications in a line separated by or less, edge to edge.



in. long.

16 in.





Subsection NE specifies specific NDE requirements for each weld category, depending on the type of weld. For butt-welded Category A and B joints, full RT is required. If the joint detail does not permit RT, and only for certain locations, it is allowed to substitute UT plus MT or PT. The absence of RT equipment is not a justification for such substitution, and detailed written proce- dures must be prepared and accepted by the Inspector for this substitution. Subsection NE, similar to other ASME Codes, dis- courages the use of UT based on the old belief that RT is a superi- or method for detection of flaws. Recen directly developments indicate that UT, although not directly comparable with RT, can be as effective (and for certain flaw types more effective) a method of examination. Most European Codes allow use of UT, in lieu of RT, as the primary method of examination. However, UT and RT are very different, and flaws found using UT may not be found with RT. Conversely, flaws found using RT may not be found using UT. There are also different types or sensitivities of both UT and RT. That means that UT using one set of parameters will find flaws that are not found using another. The same can be said for RT. If an indication is not found using an examination method that meets Code requirements, and then a flaw is discov- ered by examining with a more sensitive examination, the flaw may be evaluated using other criteria than those in the Code. Once any examination is performed that meets Code require- ments, the results of that examination are final. No further exami- nation is required. If two examinations are made and only one finds a flaw and the other does not, the one that did not find the flaw governs, as long as that examination met Code requirements. All Category C and D butt-welded joints must be fully radi- ographed without exception. Non–butt-welded Category C and D joints may be examined by UT, PT, or MT. For those Category C weld details that result in stresses through the thickness of the plate, cut edges are to be examined to detect any laminations. For noncategorized welds in pressure-retaining parts, all butt-welded joints must be radiographed. The same applies to butt-welded joints in non-pressure-retaining parts attached to pressure-retain- ing parts for a distance equal to 16 times the thickness of the attachment. If anything other than butt-welded detail is used for these noncategorized joints, they must be examined by UT, PT, or MT. One problem with the examination of welds in containment vessels has been the fact that some joints are covered by con- crete or are otherwise made inaccessible prior to the completion of the construction, which will not allow the examination of such welds during the pressure test. Such examination is waived provided that:

— No penetrations are embedded in concrete.

— Nozzles are integrally reinforced and attached by full- penetration welds.

— The welds are examined by RT or UT prior to being made inaccessible.

— The joint is tested for leak-tightness prior to being made inaccessible.


All NDE required by this subsection must be performed by, and

the results be evaluated by, qualified personnel. Such personnel should usually be employed by the “employer,” this term being defined as the N Certificate Holder, the Quality System Certificate Holder, or the Material Organization. These services may be subcontracted by these organizations provided that they verify the qualifications of the subcontractor’s personnel. Personnel performing NDE must be qualified in accordance with the recom- mended guidelines of SNT-TC-1A, which is the “Recommended Practice for Nondestructive Testing Personnel Qualification and Certification,” published by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing. The recommendations of this guideline are made mandatory as a minimum and are supplemented by additional requirements in NE-5520. For NDE methods that con- sist of more than one operation, it is permissible to use more than one person to perform the various operations. For example, one person may be used who is qualified to conduct radiographic examination, and another person may be used who is qualified to interpret the results. The Certificate Holder has the final responsi- bility to verify that all NDE personnel employed by others are qualified and certified. The personnel qualification records must be kept by the “employer.”


All pressure-retaining parts of vessels and appurtenances must be pressure tested with the exception of bolts, studs, nuts, wash- ers, and gaskets. This exemption allows the use of temporary fas- teners and gaskets for the pressure test. This subsection, in the same manner as Section VIII, calls for hydrotest as the primary method of pressure testing. Pneumatic testing, in lieu of hydrotest, is permitted under two conditions: The first is when the vessel support is not designed to carry the weight of the vessel filled with liquid, and the second is when wetting of the vessel surfaces cannot be tolerated. For containment vessels, usually having a very large volume, it would be prohibitive to design the supports and foundations to carry the weight of the vessel filled with water. As a result, in almost all cases containment vessels have been pneumatically tested. Of course, the reason that Codes discourage the use of pneumatic testing is because the conse- quences of failure can be significantly more severe than a failure during a hydrostatic test. The compression of the gas medium in large volumes results in the storage of significant amounts of energy. Certain safety precautions are usually taken during pneu- matic testing that may not be needed for a comparable hydrotest. One such precaution that is recommended is the evacuation of all personnel from an area within a certain distance of the vessel dur- ing the pressurizing phase of the test. The evacuation distance

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depends on the volume under pressure and the value of pressure, and its size may have to be a significant. If desired, combinations of pneumatic and hydrostatic testing are also allowed. However, for any amount of pneumatic pressure to be allowed, one of the aforementioned conditions must exist. The pressure testing must be witnessed by the Inspector. Subsection NE includes some unique requirements for the preparation of the vessel for testing. It requires that all joints, including welded joints, be left uninsulated and exposed for examination during the test, and that expansion joints be provided with temporary restraints to avoid overstretch. It allows the use of temporary supports if liquid is used for testing. Equipment that is not subjected to test pressure must be either disconnected or iso- lated, and it must be examined before pressure is applied. Although Subsection NE mentions hydrostatic testing, the fact is that no ASME Code containment vessel has ever been hydro- statically tested. All tests have been pneumatic tests. In the cur- rent Code, the required test pressure is equal to 1.1 times the design pressure. For the pneumatic test, the pressure must be increased gradu- ally to one-half of the test pressure, after which the pressure must be increased in steps of about one-tenth of the test pressure; this is another precaution against unexpected failure. The holding time is 10 minutes, and the examination for leaks is performed at a pres- sure equal to the design pressure. Electrical and mechanical penetration assemblies must be tes- ted with the vessel. However, when such penetration assemblies are made following the containment vessel pressure test, the test pressure of the welds connecting the electrical or mechanical pen- etration to the vessel may be less than the required containment test pressure but shall not be less than the design pressure of the vessel. This same provision is applicable for piping penetrations attached to the vessel after the pressure test. These reduced pres- sure requirements provide some flexibility, allowing the testing of these penetration assemblies with the piping.


Unlike most other Pressure Vessel Codes including Section VIII, Division 1, Subsection NE does not require that a pressure relief device be provided on all vessels. However, it does require that the vessel be protected from the consequences arising from the application of conditions of pressure and coincident temperature that would cause the service or test limits specified in the Design Specifications to be exceeded. By their intended service, contain- ment vessels are designed to withstand the maximum hypothe- sized pressure due to an accident and also to prevent the release of the radioactive contents to the atmosphere. A regular pressure relief device would defeat this function. However, if a pressure relief device is provided (scrubbing or filtering devices are avail- able), certain requirements apply. For example, relief devices must be designed such that potential impairment of the overpres- sure function from service exposure can be determined by test or examination. Relief devices must also be constructed and installed such that their correct operation and the reliability of their sensing elements can be demonstrated. Detailed installation provisions are also provided. To protect against excessive release, nonreclosing pressure relief devices are not permitted. The provision by which the overpressure requirements are met must be included in a report prepared by the owner or his designee. The report must as a minimum include drawings show-

ing the arrangement of the vessel and protection devices, the range of operating conditions under which the devices are required to function, an analysis of conditions giving rise to the maximum pressure requirements, the relief capacity required to prevent a differential pressure in the vessel, the operating con- trols and safety controls of the vessel, and the redundancy and independence of the devices and their associated sensors and controls. The report must be certified by one or more registered professional engineers competent in the field of design, and it also must be reconciled with the as-built condition of the vessel. The final report shall be filed and be made available to the Inspector. Detailed requirements are provided for determining the reliev- ing capacity and the set pressure of relief devices One require- ment worthy of note is that at least two independent vacuum relief devices must be provided on each vessel, unless the vessel is designed to withstand the maximum expected differential pres- sure. The capacity of each device shall not be less than that required to protect the vessel.


Containment vessels are to be stamped with the N symbol, and parts and appurtenances are to be stamped with the NPT symbol. Detailed requirements for data reports and stamping are provided in Article NCA-8000 of Subsection NCA. Authorization to use the official Code symbol stamps is granted by the ASME. Each certificate will identify the shop or field facility covered by the certificate and will state the scope of activities for which autho- rization is granted. A Certificate Holder must have an agreement with an Authorized Inspection Agency. A Certificate Holder must also have a quality assurance program that has been evaluated and accepted by the ASME. Form N-1, the primary data report form for a containment ves- sel, is very similar to Section VIII data reports. The manufacurer and the owner both must be identified by name and location. One notable difference is that Form N-1 provides a separate certifica- tion block for the certification of design. The names and registra- tion numbers of the registered professional engineers who certified the Design Specifications and the Design Report must be docu- mented. The form also provides for separate certifications of the shop fabrication and field assembly. The certifications may be made by two different Certificate Holders and two different autho- rized Inspectors. But the scope of work performed by each Certificate Holder must be clearly detailed on Form. Each Certificate Holder certifies that the work under his purview con- forms to the rules for construction of the ASME Code, Section III. The term “construction” in this Code encompasses all activities such as materials procurement, design fabrication, testing, and documentation. Table V-1000 of Appendix V provides detailed instructions for the preparation of data report forms.


Due to the lack of new nuclear plant construction, the Subsection NE has not been kept up-to-date. When new nuclear plants are constructed, it is probable that the containment vessels around light water reactor plants will be made of concrete. That means that Subsection NE will only be used as a supplement to

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Section III, Division 2, for the fabrication of penetrations and air locks. Some of the new plants now being designed are other than light water reactors. Whether or not these plants require any con- tainment vessel is questionable. On the basis of what is now known, it is questionable whether or not Class MC steel contain- ment vessels will be constructed in the future.



1. WRC 435, Upitis, E., and Mokhtarian, K. (1998). “Evaluation of Design Margins for ASME Code Section III, Divisions 1 and 2,” The Welding Research Council, Bulletin 435, New York.

2. ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Sections III and VIII, Division 2, Criteria of the ASME Code for Design by Analysis; The American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

3. WRC 406, Miller, C. D., and Mokhtarian, K. (1999). “Proposed Rules to ASME Code Section VIII, Division 1, for Determining Allowable Compressive Stresses for Cylinders, Cones, Spheres, and Formed Heads,” The Welding Research Council, Bulletin 406, New York.

4. WRC 414, Kalnins, A., and Rana, M. D. (1996). “A New Design Criteria Based on Pressure Testing of Torispherical Heads,” The Welding Research Council, Bulletin 414, New York.


There have been some changes in the rules of Subsection NE since 2001, but none of the changes have enough technical signifi- cance to warrant mentioning. Irrespective of this, the ‘SUMMARY OF CHANGES’ and ‘LIST OF CHANGES IN BC ORDER’ from 2007 Code Edition are provided here for the benefit of the user.

The 2007 Edition of this Code contains revisions in addition to the 2004 Edition with 2005 and 2006 Addenda. The revisions are identi- fied with the designation 07 in the margin and, as described in the Foreword, become mandatory six months after the publication date of the 2007 Edition. To invoke these revisions before their mandatory date, use the designation “2007 Edition” in documentation required by this Code. If you choose not to invoke these revisions before their mandatory date, use the designation “2004 Edition through the 2006 Addenda” in documentation required by this Code. The BC numbers listed below are explained in more detail in “List of Changes in BC Order” following this Summary of Changes. Changes given below are identified on the pages by a margin note, 07, placed next to the affected area.



Change (BC Number)

9, 10

Table NE-2121(a)-1

Revised (BC06-1348, BCOO-433)


Added (BC06-554)



Second sentence revised (BC06-1350)

38, 39


Nomenclature for S corrected by errata (BC07-96)

42, 43


NE-3134.1, NE-3134.2, NE-3134.3, and NE-3134.6 corrected by errata (BC07-96)



Corrected by errata (BC07-96)


Last line corrected by errata (BC07-96)



Corrected by errata (BC07-96)



Footnote 1 added (BC06-554)

NOTE: Volume 57 of the Interpretations to Section 111, Divisions 1 and 2, of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code follows the last page of the Edition to Subsection NCA.