Eight pipes, manufactured between 1952 and 1981, have been collected from various Canadian pipeline companies and tested. They include six pipes from the field made in the 1950’s and 1960’s of X52 grade, one experimental pipe manufactured in the early 1970’s of X65 grade, and a modern clean steel of X70 grade manufactured in 1981. The steels have been characterized by chemical composition, grain size, yield and tensile strengths, notch toughness (Charpy V-notch absorbed energy), and fracture toughness (J-integral and crack-tip opening displacement). The modern steel has much lower carbon content and much smaller grain size compared to the pipes manufactured in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The former is a fully-killed controlled-rolled steel while the latter are semi-killed ferrite-pearlite steels.

All eight pipes have ferrite-pearlite microstructures, with the average grain size ranging from 4 to 14 μm. The transverse yield strength was found to be significantly higher (by about 20%) than the longitudinal yield strength. Notch toughness and fracture toughness were similar for pipes manufactured in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In comparison, the modern steel has much higher toughness and higher strength.

J-integral and CTOD δ were found to be related by J = m σyδ with m = 1.8 and σy the transverse yield strength. The J-integral at 0.2 mm crack growth was consistent with a linear correlation with the upper-shelf Charpy energy. All the steels in this study fractured by ductile tearing in slow loading in spite of the low toughness of the older steels. It is suggested that, in the absence of Charpy upper shelf data, a reasonable representative toughness for resistance to axial surface flaws propagating by ductile tearing is J = 120±15 kJ/m2.

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