Detailed residual stress analysis was performed for a multi-pass butt weld, representing the middle butt-girth weld of a storage tank. The analysis procedures addressed welding parameters, joint detail, weld pass deposition sequence, and temperature-dependent properties. The predicted residual stresses were then considered in stress intensity factor calculations using a three-dimensional finite element alternating model (FEAM) for investigating crack growth behavior for both small elliptical surface and through-wall cracks. Two crack orientations were considered: one is parallel to the vessel girth weld and the other is perpendicular to the girth weld. Since the longitudinal (parallel to weld) and transverse (perpendicular to weld) residual stresses exhibit drastically different distributions, a different crack growth behavior is predicted. For a small surface crack parallel to the weld, the crack tends to grow more quickly at the surface along the weld rather than into the thickness. The self-equilibrating nature of the transverse residual stress distribution suggests that a through-wall crack parallel to crack cannot be fully developed solely due to residual stress actions. For a crack that is perpendicular to the weld, a small surface crack exhibit a rapid increase in K at the deepest position, suggesting that a small surface crack has the propensity to become a through-wall crack. Once the through crack is fully developed, a significant re-distribution in longitudinal residual stress can be seen. As a result, in the absence of external loads there exists a limiting crack length beyond which further crack growth is deemed unlikely.

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