Metal fatigue is a well-known phenomenon whereby material characteristics are deteriorated when even a small load is applied repeatedly. Therefore, an accurate fatigue evaluation is very important in terms of component integrity and reliability. In the design stage, the fatigue evaluation of nuclear class 1 components has to be performed in accordance with Sec. III of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. However, operating experience shows that the design transients are very conservative compared to the actual ones in terms of the heating/cooling rates and the number of transient occurrences. Considering that these two factors affect the thermal stress and thereafter the fatigue usage factor (FUF), the actual fatigue damage can differ from the design fatigue evaluation result. In order to evaluate and monitor the FUF exactly, therefore, various methods have been proposed and widely implemented. Among these, the cycle-based approach (CBA) utilizes the stresses for the design transients and reflects only the actual number of transient occurrences. For this reason, the CBA provides a conservative FUF, although it is very simple and easy to implement. Therefore, a simple and accurate fatigue monitoring method is still needed.

The purpose of this paper is to develop a new approach for effective fatigue damage monitoring. To do this, a thorough review is conducted for the design transients and actual transients for the Westinghouse-type pressurized water reactors in Korea. In addition, a wide range of finite element analyses are carried out varying the heating/cooling rates and the pattern of the transients. Based on this result, a new CBA is proposed incorporating the simple correction factors for both the heating/cooling rates and the transient patterns. A case study is also carried out for the reactor pressure vessel outlet nozzle to verify the validity and applicability of the proposed method. The result indicates that the proposed method can provide a realistic FUF, and more importantly, it is very easy to implement. From these, it is anticipated that the new approach can be widely used in practical fatigue monitoring of nuclear components and piping.