This paper presents analyses done to determine residual stress relief achieved by post weld heat treatment (PWHT) of tube attachment welds inside a thick SA508 steel pressure vessel forging. Finite element (FE) analyses were performed modelling the manufacturing operations in detail including welding, machining and PWHT. The analyses demonstrate that PWHT at 600°C for 8 hours is effective in reducing as-welded residual stress levels from tensile yield magnitude (+500MPa approx) to <100MPa. The maximum residual stress was computed to be 90MPa sub-surface in a region of hydrostatic (tri-axial tensile) stress. Secondary creep was modelled using data from creep tests on SA508 steel uni-axial tensile specimens. Practically all of the stress relaxation is due to creep strain with minimal additional plastic strain. Most stress relief occurs during the first hour of soak, with diminishing benefit thereafter. Analysis results also indicate that PWHT effectiveness is more sensitive to soak temperature than hold time. These FE results are considered slightly pessimistic but are reasonably consistent with other analytical predictions. By comparison surface hole drilling stress measurements of <50MPa (10% yield strength) were recorded from a representative welded test block. Analysis pessimism was attributed to ignoring both primary creep and relaxation during the slow warm up phase of the heat treatment cycle.

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