The ASME Code, Section III, provides rules for the evaluation of cyclic loading that include evaluations of fatigue. These rules were first developed in the 1960s along with the original development of Section III. Since then, technology and analytical advancements have improved our understanding of the fatigue phenomenon. As an example, the developments in environmentally assisted fatigue (EAF) have become a major consideration in the low-cycle fatigue for light water reactors and plant life extension.
Fatigue usage has an outsized impact on the overall cost and complexity of nuclear plants, which goes beyond just the qualification of ASME components. For example, pipe break locations, pipe whip restraints, and inservice inspections are, in part, based on fatigue analysis results. Therefore, it is important that fatigue analyses provide the most realistic assessment of fatigue with appropriate conservatism.
The Section III Standards Committee has been working to keep the Code up to date with the latest research, analysis tools and fatigue data. In 2017, a Fatigue Steering Committee was formed to provide a venue for stakeholders to identify and coordinate development of updated fatigue design criteria, analysis methods, and their associated physical and thermo-mechanical properties for application to Section III of the ASME BPV Code. The stakeholders include many international organizations including the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers. Many PVP papers have been used as the basis for the Fatigue Action Plan items. The Steering Committee completed its work in 2019 with the adoption of a Fatigue Action Plan, which provided a vision for advanced fatigue approaches. The Fatigue Action Plan recommended specific Code actions and activities to guide and coordinate the Code actions in the area of fatigue.
This paper outlines the overall Fatigue Action Plan and provides an update on the implementation progress. Section III has already accomplished several actions on the Fatigue Action Plan by publishing numerous Code Cases and Code revisions that have improved the analysis tools available to designers to address fatigue. This paper provides an overview and introduction to these Code Cases and other tools for designers.
The Fatigue Action Plan was largely based on addressing the need for the light water reactor fleet to address low cycle thermal fatigue. The Committee also recognizes that going forward the Fatigue Action Plan must address the needs of the growing advanced reactor community as well as other users of the Code. The paper discusses these needs and Section III plans to meet these future needs.