In nuclear power engineering failure has to be excluded for components with high safety relevance. Currently, safety assessments mainly use fracture mechanics concepts. Especially in the transition region of fracture toughness where limited stable crack extension may appear before cleavage fracture the currently applied methods are limited.

This Paper deals with the development and verification of a closed concept for safety assessment of components over the whole range from the lower shelf to the upper shelf of fracture toughness. The results of classical used local damage mechanics models depend on the element size of the numerical model. This disadvantage can be avoided using an element size depending on microstructure. With high stress gradients and small crack growth rates usually smaller elements are required. This is in conflict with an element size depending on microstructure. By including the damage gradient as an additional degree of freedom in the damage mechanics model the results depend no longer at the element size. In the paper damage mechanics computations with a nonlocal formulation of the Rousselier model are carried out for the evaluation of the upper transition area. For the prediction of fracture toughness from the ductile to brittle transition area the nonlocal Rousselier model is coupled with the Beremin model. Thus ductile crack growth and failure by brittle fracture can be described in parallel. The numerical prediction of the behaviour of fracture toughness specimens (C(T)-specimens and SE(B)-specimens with and without side grooves) and the experimental results are highly concordant. The load displacement behavior of the specimens and the developed crack front from the ductile to brittle transition area can be well calculated with the nonlocal damage model. The instability in relation to temperature calculated with the coupled damage mechanics model predicts the variations of the experimental results very well.

For further application of the nonlocal Rousselier model experiments and numerical calculations of specimens with different stress states and multi-axiality are carried out. Modified fracture toughness specimens like CTS-specimens (compact tension shear specimens) are taken to investigate the applicability of the nonlocal damage model of Rousselier to mixed mode fracture.

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