Fracture properties of Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) steels show large variations with changes in temperature and irradiation levels. Brittle behavior is observed at lower temperatures and/or higher irradiation levels whereas ductile mode of failure is predominant at higher temperatures and/or lower irradiation levels. In addition to such temperature and radiation dependent fracture behavior, significant scatter in fracture toughness has also been observed. As a consequence of such variability in fracture behavior, accurate estimates of fracture properties of RPV steels are of utmost importance for safe and reliable operation of reactor pressure vessels.

A cohesive zone based approach is being pursued in the present study where an attempt is made to obtain a unified law capturing both stable crack growth (ductile fracture) and unstable failure (cleavage fracture). The parameters of the constitutive model are dependent on both temperature and failure probability. The effect of irradiation has not been considered in the present study. The use of such a cohesive zone based approach would allow the modeling of explicit crack growth at both stable and unstable regimes of fracture. Also it would provide the possibility to incorporate more physical lower length scale models to predict DBT. Such a multi-scale approach would significantly improve the predictive capabilities of the model, which is still largely empirical.

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