For a safe operation of gas pipelines, the prevention of propagating brittle facture is one of the most important requirements. To evaluate the transition temperature of a propagating fracture, the Drop Weight Tear (DWT) Test was developed in the 60s. Fracture surfaces of DWT specimens have been shown to correspond well to the fracture surface of a pipe exposed to a propagating fracture at a certain temperature. Historically, there have always been observations of the fracture initiating in a ductile manner in the DWT test. Nevertheless, the most widely used test standard rules out such behavior, known as inverse or abnormal fracture. As an option to prevent ductile initiation, an alternative notch is proposed. While this might have served in the earlier days, high toughness steels of today are known to provide a high resistance against crack initiation and are therefore prone to inverse fracture, even when making use of the suggested alternative notch. Other, non-standard notch types have been investigated and discussed in literature, amongst these the static pre-crack and brittle weld notch.
Observations of the DWT test, especially comparing material showing non-inverse and inverse behaviour, show delayed crack initiation resulting in large deflection when the specimens are inverse. This high degree of pre-deformation of the material will have an adverse influence on the material performance by the time the crack propagates into it. This implies that the appearance of inverse fracture is a test effect in the laboratory test, and not an inherent material property, leading to the question if such DWT test results still correspond to the behavior of pipes. If the correlation is shown to be valid, the brittle initiation requirement as such becomes questionable.
This study summarises investigations of different notch types in DWT tests. West Jefferson tests that have been conducted to verify the correlation to shear area fraction in DWT tests. The investigation revealed that ductile initiation could not be reliably suppressed. While neither Chevron nor static pre-crack specimen lead to any reduction of the occurrence of inverse fracture, test series of brittle weld specimens did have a higher number of valid specimens. Interestingly, the results of valid, non-inverse specimens and invalid, inverse specimens showed no shift in transitional behavior. Correspondingly, both valid and invalid specimens showed a good representation of the pipe behaviour in the upper transition region.