The lifetime extension of the nuclear power plants is considered as an energy challenge worldwide. That is why, the risk analysis and the study of various effects of different factors that could potentially represent a hazard to a safe long term operation are necessary. These structures, often of great dimensions, are subjected during their life to complex loading combining varying mechanical loads, multiaxial, with non-zero mean values associated with temperature fluctuations and also PWR environment.

Based on more recent fatigue data (including tests at 300°C in air and PWR environment, etc...), some international codes (RCC-M [2], ASME and others [3][4][5]) have introduced a modification of the austenitic stainless steels fatigue curve combined with a calculation of an environmental penalty factor, namely Fen, which has to be multiplied by the usual fatigue usage factor [6].

Unfortunately, experimental data on this issue are rare. In order to obtain fatigue strength data under structural loading, biaxial test means with and without PWR environment were developed at LISN in collaboration with EDF and AREVA [6]. Two kinds of fatigue device have been developed. Within the same specimen geometry, structural loads can be applied in varying only the PWR environment.

The first device (FABIME2) is devoted to study the effect of biaxiality and mean strain/stress on the fatigue life [9]. A second and new device called FABIME2e is for the study of the environmental effect. With these new experimental results, the PWR environment effect on the fatigue life of stainless austenitic steels will be quantified accurately on semi-structure specimen. This device combines the structural effect like equi-biaxiality and mean strain and the environmental penalty effect with the use of PWR environment during the fatigue tests.

The aim of this paper is to present the numerical interpretation of the results obtained with these two devices “FABIME2” and “FABIME2e”. Two important aspects will be addressed. The first concerns the mechanical behavior of austenitic stainless steel and the capabilities of the numerical model to reproduce the hardening of the material. And the second concerns the study of the crack growth during the equibiaxial fatigue test.

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