Design of components against incremental deformation or “ratcheting” under cyclic loading conditions is addressed in Article NB-3200 of Section III of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. The ratcheting rules, based on the Bree diagram, relate primary stress and secondary stress ranges that are calculated elastically and aim to approximate elastic-plastic material behaviors under cyclic loading. The Bree diagram was developed for cases with through-thickness thermal bending and constant primary membrane stress. It does not account for high thermal membrane stress that can occur near gross structural or thermal discontinuities. Cyclic thermal membrane stress combined with sustained stress can lead to ratcheting that is not accounted for in the current design rules.
This paper discusses the validation of proposed criteria for evaluating thermal stress ratcheting under high thermal membrane stress using an elastic analysis. These proposed criteria are confirmed by an analysis of a nozzle that is attached by a partial penetration weld to a vessel head and subjected to severe thermal cycling. Linearized stresses from an elastic analysis under pressure and thermal loadings typical for a nuclear power plant are compared to limits in NB-3200 for thermal stress ratcheting. Additionally, an elastic-perfectly plastic analysis is used to evaluate if the component will shakedown.
This analysis demonstrates that the proposed rules prevent ratcheting of a typical geometry with typical operating loads in a nuclear plant. The current thermal stress ratcheting rules evaluated on an elastic basis are enhanced to cover cases with high thermal membrane stress while not removing conservatism. Additionally, the evaluation of the simplified elastic-plastic rules for thermal stress ratcheting are simplified.