Trends in pressure vessel applications involving higher pressures, lower service temperatures, thicker walls, new materials, and cyclic loading require the development of new bases in the supporting scientific and technological areas. This report presents a “broad look” analysis of the opportunities to apply new scientific approaches to fracture-safe design in pressure vessels and of the new problems that have arisen in connection with the utilization of higher-strength steels. These opportunities follow from the development of the fracture analysis diagram which depicts the relationships of flaw size and stress level for fracture in the transition range of steels which have well-defined transition temperature features. The reference criteria for the use of the fracture analysis diagram is the NDT temperature of the steel, as determined directly by the drop-weight test or indirectly by correlation with the Charpy V test. Potential difficulties in the correlation use of the Charpy V test are deduced to require engineering interpretation of Charpy V test data rather than to involve basic barriers to the use of the test. The rapid extension of pressure vessel fabrication to Q&T steels is expected to provide new problems of fracture-safe design. These derive from the susceptibilities of steels within this family to tear fractures of low energy absorption. This fracture mode does not involve a transition temperature and is therefore relatively independent of temperature. It is emphasized that such susceptibilities are not inherent to the family of Q&T steels of low and intermediate strength levels, but are related to specific metallurgical conditions of the plate and particularly the HAZ (heat-affected-zone) regions of Q&T steel weldments.

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