A fracture control plan is often required for a gas transmission pipeline in the structural design and safe operation. Fracture control involves technologies to control brittle and ductile fracture initiation, as well as brittle and ductile fracture propagation for gas pipelines, as reviewed in this paper. The approaches developed forty years ago for the fracture initiation controls remain in use today, with limited improvements. In contrast, the approaches developed for the ductile fracture propagation control has not worked for today’s pipeline steels. Extensive efforts have been made to this topic, but new technology still needs to be developed for modern high-strength pipeline steels. Thus, this is the central to be reviewed.
In order to control ductile fracture propagation, Battelle in the 1970s developed a two-curve model (BTCM) to determine arrest toughness for gas pipeline steels in terms of Charpy vee-notched (CVN) impact energy. Practice showed that the BTCM is viable for pipeline grades X65 and below, but issues emerged for higher grades. Thus, different corrections to improve the BTCM and alternative methods have been proposed over the years. This includes the CVN energy-based corrections, the drop-weight tear test (DWTT) energy-based correlations, the crack-tip opening angle (CTOA) criteria, and finite element methods. These approaches are reviewed and discussed in this paper, as well as the newest technology developed to determine fracture arrest toughness for high-strength pipeline steels.