The work reported in this paper investigates the manufacture, through-life operation and cracked behaviour of an attachment weld in a UK AGR boiler. A structural assessment of the attachment weld was performed to demonstrate its integrity. This assessment made use of complex finite element analysis of both the welding process and postulated defects. A simulation of the welding process was performed in order to predict the residual stresses and hardened material state throughout the attachment weld. The welding simulation was performed in two stages since a butter weld was deposited prior to the attachment weld itself. The accumulation of creep damage was predicted during steady normal operating conditions for the lifetime of the component. A contour map of creep damage was used to postulate the location and size of hypothetical single and double edge surface cracks within the weld. These postulated cracks were then explicitly introduced into the finite element model. The crack tip stress parameter C(t) was evaluated in order to predict the creep crack driving forces. The results from a cracked body simulation suggested that the creep crack driving force C(t) reduces as the crack grows, due to relief of the dominant welding residual stresses. The residual stress, creep damage and cracked body simulations have been brought together into a novel continuous finite element solution. The results can be used to support a safety case for continued operation of existing plant.

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