In this work, the effect of thermo-mechanically-induced global phase transformation (actuation) on the crack driving force in Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs) is investigated by means of the finite element method. The prototype problem of an infinite center-cracked SMA plate is analyzed during a thermal cycle in isobaric, plane strain loading conditions. The temperature variation is sufficient to induce global phase transformation. The Virtual Crack Closure Technique (VCCT) is employed to measure the crack tip energy release rate during the entire actuation cycle. Results show that the energy release rate can increase drastically during actuation, an order of magnitude for specific material systems. This in turn implies that crack growth may be triggered as a result of thermo-mechanically-induced phase transformation. The sensitivity of the crack tip energy release rate during actuation on key thermo-mechanical parameters is studied.

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