Seismic risk assessment of nuclear power plants (NPPs) based on seismic hazard and fragility analyses of structures/components has become important since Japanese NPPs have experienced several large earthquakes beyond the design basis ground motion. In addition, cracks resulting from the long-term operation of NPPs have been detected in piping system of NPPs. For example, in the pressurized water reactor environment, crack initiation and propagation due to primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) have been observed in dissimilar metal welds made of nickel-based alloy. Therefore, fragility analyses related to seismic probabilistic risk assessment considering such PWSCC and seismic loading are important for more realistic seismic risk assessment. In our previous study, a fragility analysis method for cracked pipes that is applicable for the carbon and stainless steel pipes has been developed. The developed method consists of two functions for evaluating the crack growth due to seismic loading as well as the age-related degradation. Since the crack growth evaluation method is available for only carbon steel and stainless steel pipes, it is important to enhance the applicability of the method to dissimilar metal welds of pipes where the cracks due to PWSCC were observed.

In this study, an extensive study for crack growth evaluation method is performed for the dissimilar metal welds. Here, applicability of the previously developed method to a nickel-based alloy weld is investigated. We performed crack growth tests using the center cracked plate specimens and welded pipe specimens with circumferential through-wall crack machined from dissimilar metal weld joint of pipes. It is found that the amount of crack growth predicted by our crack growth evaluation method are in good agreement with the experimental results. Therefore, we conclude that the previously developed method can be widely used for evaluating the crack growth behavior under seismic loading conditions in the nuclear piping including dissimilar metal welds of pipes.

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