Prevention of failure of pressurised and high-energy components and systems has been an important issue in design of all types of power and process plants. Each individual component of these systems must be dimensioned such that it can resist the forces or moments to which it will be subjected during normal service and upset conditions. Design by analysis is an important philosophy of modern design. The ability of now-a-days computers to numerically handle complex mathematical problems has inspired the use highly nonlinear material behaviour (including material softening) instead of classical linear constitutive theory for the materials. Under the influence of these developments, a fundamentally different type of modelling has emerged, in which fracture is considered as the ultimate consequence of a material degradation process. Crack initiation and growth then follow naturally from the standard continuum mechanics theory (called continuum damage mechanics). Numerical analyses based on these so-called local damage models, however, are often found to depend on the spatial discretisation (i.e., mesh size of the numerical method used). The growth of damage tends to localise in the smallest band that can be captured by the spatial discretisation. As a consequence, increasingly finer discretisation grids can lead to crack initiation earlier in the loading history and to faster crack growth. This non-physical behaviour is caused by the fact that the localisation of damage in a vanishing volume is no longer consistent with the concept of a continuous damage field, which forms the basis of the continuum damage mechanics approach. In this work, the Rousellier’s damage model has been extended to its nonlocal form using damage parameter ‘d’ as a degree of freedom. The finite element (FE) equations have been derived using the weak form of the governing equations for both mechanical force equilibrium and the damage equilibrium. As an example, a standard fracture mechanics specimen [SE(B)] made up of a German low alloy steel has been analysed in 2D plane strain condition using different mesh sizes near the crack tip. The results of the nonlocal model has been compared with experimental results as well as with those predicted by the local model. It was observed that the fracture resistance predicted by the local damage model goes on decreasing when the mesh size near the crack tip is refined whereas the nonlocal model predicts a converged fracture resistance behaviour which compares well with the experimentally determined behaviour.

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