High temperature water environments, typical of light water reactor primary coolant, are known to lead to significant environmental enhancement of fatigue crack growth of austenitic stainless steels. For PWR environments. these effects have recently been codified in ASME Code Case N-809. However, just as for the detrimental effect of these environments on fatigue endurance, plant experience indicates that crack growth rates must be significantly lower than predictions based on laboratory data using simple sawtooth waveforms. In order to explain this discrepancy, a significant amount of research has been conducted to quantify factors leading to crack growth rate retardation with sulfur content having been identified as significant in promoting crack growth rate retardation. However, the inherent conservatisms in current analysis techniques may be just as significant in generating the perceived over-conservatism of environmental fatigue crack growth laws such as Code Case N-809.

The current work looks at the impact of waveform shape and spectrum loading on the level of environmental enhancement for a given stress intensity factor range and total rise time by considering simplified transients and loading spectra. The observations suggest that simplified definitions of total rise time used in fatigue assessments can lead to large over-estimation of actual fatigue damage. These data form the basis of an analytical methodology being developed by RollsRoyce (presented in a separate paper at this conference) aimed at partitioning damage across the loading cycle in order to remove over-conservatisms in current analytical methodologies.

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