Tensile residual stresses can have a detrimental affect on the safe operating limits of components. In most cases, these residual stress fields can be relieved through various treatments but in many cases it is not realistic to expect the complete elimination of these stresses. When considering the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) located within a Nuclear Reactor Plant (NRP), knowledge of fatigue and fracture within a residual stress field is essential in support of safety cases. This research has investigated the behaviour of flaws that lie within a residual stress field with emphasis on fracture toughness through a series of fracture toughness tests. Alongside this experimental series, a finite element model has been created to predict the stress distributions prior to fracture. To enable an accurate simulation of the residual stress field distribution before loading to fracture it is important that the introduction of a fatigue crack is accurately modelled. This paper details several methods of introducing a fatigue crack into a simulation. During this research it has been shown that the introduction of a crack in progressive stages will lead to a better representation of the residual stress distribution prior to fracture. It has been shown that it is essential to use experimentally determined crack front shapes for the final stage of crack growth as this shape can significantly alter the residual stress distribution.

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