The RSE-M Code provides rules and requirements for in-service inspection of French Pressurized Water Reactor power plants. The Code gives non mandatory guidance for analytical evaluation of flaws. Flaw assessment procedures rely on fracture mechanics analyses based on simplified methods (i.e. analytical). Analytical methods were developed under a cooperative program between EDF, CEA and AREVA NP to calculate the J integral in various cracked piping components (straight pipe, tapered transition, elbow and pipe-to-elbow junction). These methods are available for mechanical loading (in-plane bending moment, pressure, torsion moment), thermal loading as well as for combined loading. Moreover, they can be used either for materials with Ramberg-Osgood stress-strain curves or for real materials (stainless steels and carbon manganese steels, including those with yield plateaus). However, for the analysis of cracks in welds, they use the tensile properties of the weakest material between the base material and the weld material. This induces some conservatism on the estimated J values. A cooperative program was launched in 2004 to develop a J estimation scheme which takes into account the strength mismatch effects. The scheme relies on the definition of an ‘equivalent’ stress-plastic strain curve, as proposed in the R6 rule (section III.8: allowance for strength mismatch effects). This curve is then used with the analytical methods for homogeneous cracked components. In a first step, the method is developed for circumferential surface cracks in straight buttwelded pipes submitted to mechanical loading. It takes into account the geometry of the weld joint (V-shaped), as well as the location of the crack within the weld. This paper presents the current state of development of this J estimation-scheme.

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