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Ensuring Data Quality for Environmental Fatigue: INCEFA-PLUS Testing Procedure and Data Evaluation

INCEFA-PLUS stands for INcreasing safety in nuclear power plants by Covering gaps in Environmental Fatigue Assessment. It is a five year project supported by the European Commission HORIZON2020 program that commenced in mid-2015 and in which sixteen organizations from across Europe participate. Specifically, the effects of mean strain/stress, hold time, strain amplitude and surface finish on fatigue life of austenitic stainless steels in light water reactor environments are being studied, these being issues of common interest to all participants. The project will develop proposals for improvements to methods for environmental fatigue assessment of nuclear plant components. Therefore, extensive testing capacity is being solicited in various laboratories across Europe in order to add to the existing amount of published data on environmentally assisted fatigue. Since there currently is no standard on environmental fatigue testing, it was imperative to come up with and agree upon a testing procedure within the consortium to minimize lab-to-lab variations in test results. This was done prior to the first phase of testing, but an update of the procedure was required after review of initial results, when additional potential lab-to-lab differences were identified. The current status of the so-called test protocol, and the key areas of difference found between different testing facilities, will be discussed. Due to the large test matrix within INCEFA-PLUS, distributed amongst various test laboratories, it has been necessary to develop a method to assign a data quality level to each test result, and a minimum data quality requirement for results that will be included in the project’s datasets used for analysis. Furthermore, the project has triggered international interest in facilitating mutual data access, and this requires data is gathered in a common database with data quality ratings applied. Ways to address the evaluation of data quality will be discussed. In a way, both activities, on a test protocol and on data review, jointly contribute to data quality by, respectively, ensuring a pre-test, common test procedure and a post-test, harmonized data evaluation. The large number of participants in the INCEFA-PLUS project presents a unique opportunity to gain consensus on light water reactor environment fatigue testing procedures and data quality assessment from experts working in a range of different organizations. The test protocol and data quality ratings developed within the INCEFA-PLUS project could be adopted by other organizations, or possibly used as the basis for future testing standards documents to harmonize approaches across the nuclear industry.