The Master Curve (MC) method can be used to directly determine fracture toughness of ferritic reactor pressure vessel (RPV) materials. CRIEPI has been working on the development of a testing technique to apply very small C(T) (called Mini-C(T)) specimens for the MC method. The appropriateness of using Mini-C(T) specimens for several materials including un-irradiated plate, forging, weld metal and irradiated plate has been demonstrated. Through a series of investigations, it was determined that more invalid data, due to ductile crack growth (DCG), can occur when using small size specimens.

Linde-80 weld metal, used in the fabrication of some RPVs, is known as low upper shelf material, which tends to exhibit more DCG than high upper shelf materials. In the present study, two sets of 15 Mini-C(T) specimens were machined and pre-cracked from irradiated Linde-80 weld metal. Each set of specimens were provided to two different laboratories (A and B). The laboratories separately conducted the MC tests. DCG occurred even in the lower test temperature condition. About half of specimens for lab A showed excessive DCG and were subjected to the censoring. Some of specimens were rejected since the test temperature is outside of the specified range (T-To < −50°C). As a result, lab A could not obtain valid To with 15 specimens. Lab B also experienced DCG, however were able to obtain a sufficient number of valid KJc data points to determine a valid To. The obtained ToQ (lab A) and To (lab B) are sufficiently close to each other and suggests that Mini-C(T) can be used even for the low upper shelf material if the number of available specimens are sufficiently large. The combined dataset from labs A and B estimated To = 31.5°C, which is in the scatter band of To obtained by pre-cracked Chapry (PCCv), 0.5TC(T) or 1TC(T) specimens in a past Heavy-Section Steel Irradiation (HSSI) project. The overall result suggests that To can be estimated using Mini-C(T) specimens for the lower upper shelf weld material, but 15 is a marginal number of specimens for a valid estimation.

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