The model of Ritchie, Knott, and Rice [10], relating the critical tensile stress for initiation of unstable cleavage fracture of mild steel to the cryogenic temperature-dependence of plane strain fracture toughness (KIc), is applied to a pressure vessel steel, ASTM A533B. It is shown that the fracture criterion of achieving the critical tensile stress over a characteristic microstructural distance is essentially unaffected by neutron irradiation. Thus, it appears that the effects of irradiation on the temperature-dependence of KIc in the cleavage range can be quantitatively assessed solely in terms of the effects on the yield and flow properties of the material.

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