By: Erica Libra-Sharkey
From the US Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, “The demanding environments of an operating nuclear reactor may impact the ability of a broad range of materials to perform their intended function over extended service periods. Routine surveillance and repair/replacement activities can mitigate the impact of this degradation; however, failures still occur. With reactors being licensed to operate for periods up to 60 years, with further extensions under consideration, and power uprates being planned, many of the plant systems, structures, and components will be expected to tolerate more demanding environments for longer periods. The longer plant operating lifetimes may increase the susceptibility of different systems, structures, and components to degradation and may introduce new degradation modes.
While all components potentially can be replaced, decisions to simply replace components may not be practical or the most economically favorable option. Therefore, understanding, controlling, and mitigating materials degradation processes and establishing a sound technical basis for long-range planning of necessary replacements are key priorities for extended nuclear power plant operations and power uprate considerations. https://www.energy.gov/ne/materials-aging-and-degradation”.