Development of an Ultrasonic Imaging System for Inspection of Nuclear Reactor Pressure Vessels
Nuclear reactor pressure vessels are huge, thick section, steel structures designed to provide maximum containment safety for the reactor core. These pressure vessels are designed in accordance with strict criteria and are inspected to exacting American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) boiler and pressure vessel codes (BPVC). Pressure vessels are fabricated from curved steel plates which are welded together to form the primary pressure boundary. Initial acceptance of the weld integrity of these structures is currently based on radiographic nondestructive testing procedures as defined by Sections III and V of the ASME-BPVC. However, once placed in service, radiographic procedures are no longer applicable as the hostile radioactive environment and physical restrictions preclude duplication of the procedure used during the initial acceptance of the pressure vessel. The ASME Section XI (Inservice Inspection) defines the ultrasonic procedures required for monitoring the weld integrity during the 40-year service cycle of the pressure vessel. Present practice calls for an ultrasonic baseline inspection of all welds in the pressure vessel prior to placing the vessel in service. Once in service, selected sections of weld are reinspected at periodic intervals following a sequence which insures inspection of all welds within a 10-year period.
KeywordsPressure Vessel Electric Power Research Institute Television Monitor Receiver Element Sound Beam
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