A periodic inspection of a reactor pressure vessel in refinery was scheduled. Prior to that inspection, criteria need to be established to determine what flaw indication would be tolerable so that the vessel can safely be put back in to service in a timely manner, or in the worst case, identify what flaw indication would create a very strong case for repair or replacement criteria for the vessel. A flaw tolerance criterion that can be applied to the refinery inspection process was developed for numerous potential flaw locations in this vessel. The finite element alternating method was used to determine the appropriate fracture parameters to assist in this flaw assessment procedure. These computational efforts involved examining the fracture response of the system in preparation for planned inspections.

Stress intensity factors were evaluated for a total of ten (10) cracks inserted into the refinery pressure vessel at several locations and crack orientations. Most of the cracks had depth to thickness ratios of 0.25 and a half width 3 times this depth. The crack sizes are chosen based on the assumed maximum initial flaw sizes expected to be found from NDI. The stress intensity factor for residual stress loading was conservatively estimated by placing a unit tensile pressure on the crack face for all 10 cracks. The approximation of crack face pressure loading to simulate residual stress is also shown to be accurate. Therefore, one can estimate the contribution to stress intensity factor by multiplying the residual stress value of K by the estimated residual stress ratio. The final estimate of crack driving force for a crack, KI, is obtained by adding the contributions of the pressure loading with the residual stress contribution. Internal pressure loading of this vessel is the only significant source of loading in this vessel.

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