To assess the integrity of pipelines containing cracks, single edge-notched tension (SENT) specimens in the end-clamped conditions have been widely adopted in the oil and gas industry to measure fracture toughness or resistance curves in terms of the J-integral or crack-tip opening displacement (CTOD). The CTOD toughness is often utilized in the strain-based design, and thus its measurement is important to the pipeline industry. Two types of CTOD-R curve test methods are available for a single SENT specimen test: J-conversion method and double clip gage (DCG) measurement method. However, these two CTOD test methods often determine different R-curves, leading to a long-running dispute.

To better understand the difference of the two CTOD test methods as well as the effect of material strain hardening rate on CTOD-R curves, a set of clamped SENT specimens are tested for two ductile steels with a high strain hardening rate (A36) and a low strain hardening rate (X80). Experimental R-curves are analyzed for the two steels, and results show that the CTOD-R curves determined using the J-conversion method and the DCG method are comparable for X80, but significantly different for A36. To study the root cause, elastic-plastic finite element analyses are performed for the SENT specimens of A36 and X80. With the numerical results of J-integral and CTOD, different CTOD estimation methods are evaluated, and the root causes of their differences are analyzed. On this basis, discussions are made on how to use the two types of CTOD-R curves in the pipeline design and integrity assessment.

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