Non Destructive Evaluation of Containment Walls in Nuclear Power Plants
Two functions are regularly tested on the containment walls in order to anticipate a possible accident. The first is mechanical to resist at a possible internal over-pressure and the second is to prevent leakage. The reference accident LLOCA (Large Loss of Coolant Accident) is the rupture of a pipe in the primary circuit of a nuclear plant. In this case, the pressure and temperature can reach 5 bar and 180°C in 20 seconds.
The national project ‘Non-destructive testing of the containment structures of nuclear plants’ aims at studying the non-destructive techniques capable to evaluate the concrete properties and its damaging or progression of cracks. This 4-year-project is segmented into two parts. The first consists in developing and selecting the most relevant NDEs (Non Destructive Evaluations) in the laboratory to reach these goals. These evaluations are developed in conditions representing the real conditions of the stresses generated during ten-yearly visits of the plants or those related to an accident. The second part consists in applying the selected techniques to two containment structures under pressure. The first (technique) is proposed by the ONERA (National Office for Aerospace Studies and Research of France) and the second is a mock-up of a containment wall on a 1/3 scale made by EDF (Electricity of France) within the VeRCoRs program.
Communication bears on the part of the project that concerns the damaging and cracking follow-up. The tests are done in bending on 3 or 4 points in order to study the cracks’ generation, their propagation, as well as their opening and closing. The mostly ultrasonic techniques developed concern linear or non-linear acoustic: acoustic emission , LOCADIFF (Locating with diffuse ultrasound) , energy diffusion, surface waves velocity and attenuation, DAET (Dynamic Acousto-Elasticity Testing) . The data contribute to providing the mapping of the parameters searched for, either in volume, in surface or globally. Image correlation is an important additional asset to validate the coherence of the data. The spatial normalization of the data allows proposing algorithms on the combination of the experimental data.
The tests results are presented and they show the capacity and the limits of the evaluation of the volume, surface or global data. A data fusion procedure is associated with these results.