High pH Stress Corrosion Cracking (HpHSCC) is a significant threat to the buried pipelines, which are protected through simultaneous coating and cathodic protection strategies. In the past decades, extensive research has been devoted to assessing the influence of environmental and metallurgical factors on the susceptibility to HpHSCC. With reference to mechanical factors, previous studies employed either slow strain rate or constant amplitude testing methods. However, the pressure fluctuation data extracted from pipeline operations has indicated that pipelines experience highly variable amplitude loading conditions during their service. Accordingly, an important consideration in managing HpHSCC is load interaction. Statistics show a higher probability of HpHSCC failures within the 30 km downstream from pump/compressor stations where the pipeline steels experience elevated service temperatures, with incipient higher susceptibility to HpHSCC. However, the pipeline sections within the 30 km downstream from pump/compressor stations also experience the underload-type of pressure fluctuations that feature a maximum pressure close to the design limit, frequent and large amplitudes of depressurization, resulting in low stress ratio, R (minimum stress/maximum stress), and many smaller pressure fluctuations (minor cycles) with R ratio closer to +1.0. It has been well characterized that the underload-minor-cycle-type of pressure fluctuations has the significant acceleration effect on crack growth rates in near-neutral pH (NNpH) environments. However, the effect of the underload-type of pressure schemes on HpHSCC crack growth has not been well developed. In this research work, a cathodically protected X65 steel specimen in the developed high pH solution, composed of 1N Na2CO3 and 1N NaHCO3, was subjected to different loading conditions. These loading waveforms simulate underload cycles (R = 0.5), minor cycles (R = 0.9) and variable amplitudes consisting of both underload and minor cycles, respectively. The HpHSCC test results showed that the highest and lowest crack growth rates were obtained in high and low R ratio constant amplitude loading conditions, respectively. Furthermore, an intermediate crack growth rate was obtained under variable amplitude loading condition. These results indicate that the underload cycles retard crack growth rate in high pH environments.

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