Slow crack growth (SCG) is a common failure mode in underground polyethylene (PE) piping which was designed for 50-year services. It had been revealed by experiments that the SCG process is caused by continuous propagation of the craze zone at the crack tip through the bulk material. However, the mechanism of SCG failure has not been understood clearly. The eXtended Finite Element Method (XFEM) is found to be an effective tool for locally non-smooth features (voids, cracks, etc.) in solid or fluid mechanics solutions. In this paper the time-dependent property of PE was considered, a viscoelastic constitutive model was used for the bulk material. To represent the material deterioration during SCG, a damage model was developed for the craze zone. Combined with the XFEM, the process of the Pennsylvania Notched Test (PENT), which had been widely applied for characterizing resistance of SCG for PE pipes or resins, was analyzed based on the proposed finite element (FE) model containing the two constitutive models. The numerical results were then compared with the experimental data in literatures. It showed that the failure time and final notch angle were in agreement with the experimental observations. Based on the verified FE model, strain distributions along the boundary of the crack were studied and the shortcomings of this model were discussed.

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