Recent developments in the manufacturing process of steel plate for high strength linepipe have enabled superior toughness to prevent brittle fracture of the pipe body. Techniques for non-destructive inspection have also improved, and large flaws that could lead to brittle fracture are highly unlikely in recent high strength pipelines. However, large amounts of plastic deformation can be expected in seismic or permafrost regions. Prevention of ductile fracture of the pipe body or weldment therefore becomes a key issue in defining the tensile strain limit. Ductile fracture is considered to occur by growth and coalescence of voids, and is affected by stress triaxiality and plastic straining at the cracked region. Although many studies have been carried out to evaluate ductile cracking criteria, its transferability to large-scale fracture behavior has not been thoroughly investigated. In this study, ductile cracking of high strength linepipe steels, Grade X80 and X100, was investigated. Notched round bar specimens with different notch root radii were tested to determine the precise conditions for initiation of ductile fracture. Stress and strain conditions at the notch regions were evaluated by FE analysis, and the “critical equivalent plastic strain” was defined at conditions corresponding to ductile fracture initiation in the experimental small specimen tests. Ductile crack initiation behavior was also determined for wide plate test specimens by making close observations of the notch root area. 3-D FE analysis of the wide plate tensile test showed that the equivalent plastic strain at the point of ductile fracture initiation was in close agreement with that in the notched round bas specimen. Thus, the “critical equivalent plastic strain,” determined by small notched round bar specimens, can be considered as a transferable criterion to predict large-scale fracture behavior in wide plate tests. Concepts of strain based design in terms of preventing ductile failure from a surface flaw by applying critical strain to cracking were also discussed in this paper. Results were compared to conventional grade linepipe steels and structural steels, showing that recent high strength linepipe steels have higher resistance to ductile cracking than conventional structural steels. In addition, 3-D FE analyses were used in a parametric study to determine the effects of Y/T and uniform strain on the onset of ductile cracking behaviour. The results of these analyses show the relative importance of materials properties on the resistance to ductile cracking.

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