Limit load solutions have been applied to estimate the collapse load of a component made of ductile material. Worldwide maintenance codes for power plants, such as ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessels Code, Section XI, and JSME fitness-for-service code, describe limit load solutions under the assumption of a single flaw. Detected flaws are, however, not always a single flaw, and adjacent flaws due to stress corrosion cracking have been detected in power plants. Thus, development of a limit load solution to estimate the collapse load in the case of multiple flaws remains an issue of structural integrity evaluation. Under the aim of developing a method for evaluating the effect of multiple flaws on collapse load as a part of a limit load solution, fracture tests of flat plates and pipes with multiple flaws were conducted. Although experimental approaches have been attempted to establish the evaluation method, further efforts are required to incorporate the evaluation procedure into a code rule.
Effective parameters for considering reduction of collapse load on the basis of test results for specimens with multiple flaws were identified. Test results clearly show a correlation between collapse load and ratios of net-section areas. This correlation leads to the conclusion that distance parameters and flaw length of a smaller flaw determine the existence of an effect on the collapse load by multiple flaws. To investigate the physical sense of the correlation, finite element analysis (FEA) was performed. The FEA results show that strain distributions at the flaw tip under several conditions correspond at the time of maximum load of the fracture tests regardless of the effect of multiple flaws. Also according to the FEA results, the extent of the strain field is linearly proportional to flaw length. These FEA results are consistent with the correlation obtained by the test results.