Fracture mechanics methods for engineering assessment of acceptable flaw sizes in pipeline girth welds have been widely and successfully embraced by the pipeline industry. Advancements driven by strain-based design have identified elevated conservatism in assessment of material toughness by standardized high constraint fracture toughness test methods. Methods of reducing conservatism include the use of constraint adjustment factors or constraint-matched test specimens. Variants of the single edge-notched tensile (SENT) specimen have been widely reported as appropriate constraint-matched laboratory-scale specimens. This paper presents the results of SENT and SENB toughness testing of pipeline girth welds in both ductile and brittle/transitional temperature regimes.
Testing of 19.2mm weldments was conducted at room temperature (RT) and −5°C, with the intent of assessing the practicality of the single-specimen SENT methodology for low constraint fracture toughness assessment of typical high toughness production welds. Typical SENT specimens exhibited up to 50% higher upper shelf toughness results compared to SENB specimens. The majority of specimens failed E1820 crack straightness validity criteria, while the majority of specimens met E2818 (ISO 15653) criteria.
Testing of 10.4mm weldments was conducted on pipe known to exhibit low HAZ toughness (brittle pop-ins) at −5°C in the SENB configuration. SENT testing was conducted over temperatures spanning typical operating, design, and winter construction lowering-in temperatures (i.e. RT to −35°C), with the intent of investigating material sensitivity to brittle response under constraint-matched conditions. Brittle responses were observed in SENT specimens at both −20°C and −35°C, and ductile (upper shelf) behavior at −5°C and warmer; SENB specimens exhibited consistently brittle behavior at RT and −5°C, suggesting a HAZ transition temperature shift of at least −30°C for the constraint-matched test geometry.