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Upon arrival at the erection site, an AISI type 316L stainless steel tank intended for storage of fast breeder test reactor coolant (liquid sodium) exhibited cracks on its shell at two of four shell/nozzle fillet-welded joint regions. The tank had been transported from the manufacturer to the erection site by road, a distance of about 800 km (500 mi). During transport, the nozzles were kept at an angle of 45 deg to the vertical because of low clearance heights in road tunnels. The two damaged joints were unsupported at their ends inside the vessel, unlike the two uncracked nozzles. Surface examination showed ratchet marks at the edges of the fracture surface, indicating that loading was of the rotating bending type. Electron fractography using the two-stage replica method revealed striation marks characteristic of fatigue fracture. The striations indicated that the cracks had advanced on many “mini-fronts,” also indicative of nonuniform loading such as rotating bending. It was recommended that a support be added at the inside end of the nozzles to rigidly connect with the shell. In addition to avoiding transport problems, this design modification would reduce fatigue loading that occurs in service due to vibration of the nozzles during filling and draining of the tank.

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