In structural integrity analysis of reactor pressure vessels (RPVs), a postulated shallow crack is subjected to biaxial far-field stresses. However, the fracture toughness Kc or Jc, which is an important material property for the structural integrity assessment of RPVs, is usually obtained from testing deeply cracked compact tension (C(T)) or single-edged bending (SE(B)) specimens under uniaxial loading. Thus, the fracture toughness data do not reflect the biaxial loading state that cracks in a RPV are subjected to. Cruciform bending specimen was therefore developed to simulate the biaxial stress state. In this paper, a series of finite element (FE) simulations of the cruciform specimens containing different crack geometries and of different material properties are conducted. The crack tip stress fields are analyzed, and the constraint is investigated using the J–A2 theory. The results show that the biaxial effect is material property dependent which could be useful for the optimization of the test method and the better design of cruciform specimens. The trends about the biaxial loading effect revealed in this study would also be helpful in estimating the safe operating life of RPVs.

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