Newer vintage line-pipe steels, even for lower grades (i.e., X60 to X70) have much different fracture behavior than older line-pipe steels. These differences significantly affect the fracture control aspects for both brittle fracture and ductile fracture of new pipelines.

Perhaps one of the most significant effects is with brittle fracture control for new line-pipe steels. From past work brittle fracture control was achieved through the specification of the drop-weight-tear test (DWTT) in API 5L3. With the very high Charpy energy materials that are being made today, brittle fracture will not easily initiate from the pressed notch of the standard DWTT specimen, whereas for older line-pipe steels that was the normal behavior. This behavior is now referred to as “Abnormal Fracture Appearance” (AFA). More recent work shows a more disturbing trend that one can get 100-percent shear area in the standard pressed-notch DWTT specimen, but the material is really susceptible to brittle fracture. This is a related phenomenon due to the high fracture initiation energy in the standard DWTT specimen that we call “Abnormal Fracture Behavior” (AFB). This paper discusses modified DWTT procedures and some full-scale results. The differences in the actual behavior versus the standard DWTT can be significant. Modifications to the API 5L3 test procedure are needed.

The second aspect deals with empirical fracture control for unstable ductile fractures based on older line-pipe steel tests initially from tests 30-years ago. As higher-grade line-pipe steels have been developed, a few additional full-scale burst tests have shown that correction factors on the Charpy energy values are needed as the grade increases. Those correction factors from the newer burst tests were subsequently found to be related to relationship of the Charpy energy values to the DWTT energy values, where the DWTT has better similitude than the Charpy test for fracture behavior (other than the transition temperature issue noted above). Once on the upper-shelf, recent data suggest that what was once thought to be a grade correction factor may really be due to steel manufacturing process changes with time that affect even new low-grade steels. Correction factors comparable to that for X100 steels have been indicated to be needed for even X65 grade steels. Hence the past empirical equations in Codes and Standards like B31.8 will significantly under-predict the actual values needed for most new line-pipe steels.

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