Extending the In-service Life of Welded Assemblies in Nuclear Plants
PNNL is developing a solid state welding process that will produce stronger weldments in two alloy families that are being used in new reactor construction, including in small modular reactor (SMR) applications. Solid state welding can produce joints with much better long-term resistance to corrosion and cracking. This can help to significantly increase the time a reactor (or any welded pipe or pressure vessel) can stay in service, saving cost and providing increased margins of safety in operation.
In the last 15 years, PNNL has developed Friction Stir Welding (FSW) for a wide range of applications. FSW can create successful weld joints with unique performance properties that cannot be achieved with conventional welding. In this project, PNNL researchers are partnering with laboratories and industrial partners to demonstrate the advantages of FSW in SMR applications. The performance advantage of FSW is expected to also be realized in other industries, such as pipe and pressure vessel welding in power plants, gas and CO2 pipelines and others.