The core region of the RPV can be considered a hollow circular cylinder disregarding the geometrical details due to nozzles. This contribution investigates the prediction capabilities for crack initiation, crack growth and arrest by means of a rather simple method based on the closed-weight function formula for the stress intensity factor (SIF) for axial cracks in hollow cylinders subjected to thermal shock. The method is explained together with some illustrative examples for real low allow steel used in nuclear applications. In order to obtain the temperature and stress distribution in the cylinder during the thermal shock, a finite element (FE) model is defined to obtain the uncoupled solution of these two fields needed for the closed-weight function. Since the material exhibits a ductile-brittle transition fracture behavior, the temperature-dependent fracture toughness for initiation and for arrest are described using the ASME model. The solution for the SIF is based on linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) and therefore only elastic material is assumed and the crack can propagate in brittle manner. The crack initiates propagation if the SIF value at the crack tip reaches the fracture toughness (for initiation) and propagates unstably in mode I unless the fracture arrest toughness is reached. The quality of the solution is checked by comparing the obtained solution for a “stationary” crack with the calculated extended finite element method (XFEM) solution for the same loading transient. The results show that for some geometries of the cylinder, the crack stops and in some other cases the crack propagates until the cylinder fails. The combined closed-weight function-initiation-growth-arrest (WFF-IGA) algorithm does not require expensive computational resources and gives fast reliable results. The WFF-IGA method provides a powerful and economical way to predict the crack propagation and arrest of the initial crack. This is an advantage when an optimization of the structure is needed.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.