Since the first investigations four decades ago, a large number of experiments on ferritic steels has confirmed the existence of a warm pre-stress (WPS) effect, which describes the effective enhancement of the cleavage fracture toughness at low temperature following the application, at a higher temperature, of a stress intensity factor (SIF) which exceeds the fracture toughness of the virgin material at low temperature. These experiments allowed for the establishment of the so-called ‘conservative principle’, which states that no fracture will occur if the applied SIF decreases (or is held constant) while the temperature at the crack-tip decreases, even if the fracture toughness of the virgin material is exceeded. In structural integrity assessments involving a prior overload or a thermal transient, such as that of a nuclear pressure vessel subjected to a pressurized thermal shock (PTS) consecutive to a loss of coolant accident (LOCA), such a principle is of great importance in the evaluation of the safety margins. Three main reasons have been advanced to explain the WPS effect: the blunting of the crack tip at high temperature, the formation of high compressive stresses on elastic unloading, and a change in the cleavage fracture micromechanisms induced by plastic deformation. While all these factors certainly contribute to the effective toughness enhancement following WPS, their relative incidence on the fracture risk is not easily established. In this paper, we choose to mainly focus on the cleavage fracture micromechanisms following WPS, as a first step towards better quantifying the individual contributions of crack tip blunting and residual stresses.
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- Cleavage Fracture Micromechanisms Related to WPS Effect in RPV Steel
S. R. Bordet
- Springer Netherlands
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