The flow rate of water flowing over a steel surface is considered to be one of the most important factors influencing the fatigue life of the steel, because the water flow produces differences in the local environment. The effect of the water flow rate on the fatigue life of carbon, low alloy, and austenitic stainless steels was therefore investigated experimentally. Fatigue testing of low (S = 0.008 wt%) and high (S = 0.016 wt%) sulfur content carbon steels and a low alloy steel was performed at 289°C for various dissolved oxygen concentrations (DO) of less than 0.01 and 0.05, 0.2, and 1 ppm, and at various water flow rates. Three different strain rates of 0.4, 0.01, and 0.001%/s were used in the fatigue tests. For high sulfur carbon steel (S = 0.016 wt%), the effect of a high water flow rate on mitigating fatigue life reduction was more clearly observed at a lower strain rate, irrespective of the DO. This effect of high water flow rate was most notable at a DO of 0.2 ppm, which was the DO level that produced a significant sulfur effect. This indicates that the mechanism responsible for the mitigation of fatigue life reduction is the flushing effect of the water, which eliminates the locally corrosive environment. For high sulfur carbon steel (S = 0.016 wt%), no benefit of a high water flow rate was found at a DO of 0.01 ppm. This was because the environmental effect is insignificant at this low DO level. For low sulfur carbon steel (S = 0.008 wt%) and low alloy steel (S = 0.008 wt%), a high water flow rate had little effect on mitigating fatigue life reduction even at a DO of 0.2 ppm. This indicates that the sulfur is much less influential in low sulfur steel than in high sulfur steel. Fatigue testing of Type 316 nuclear grade stainless steel (316NG) and Type 316 stainless steel (SUS316) was performed at 289°C and 320°C for DO levels of less than 0.01 and 0.05, and 0.2. For austenitic stainless steel, no mitigating effect at a high water flow rate was found. It should be noted rather that there is a possibility that a high water flow rate decreases the fatigue life because a tendency to a slight decrease in fatigue life with an increasing flow rate was observed.

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