Three dimensional observations and modelling of intergranular stress corrosion cracking in austenitic stainless steel

T James Marrow, Laurent Babout, A. P. Jivkov, Paul Wood, D. Engelberg, N. Stevens, P. J. Withers, R. C. Newman

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    Stress corrosion cracking is a life-limiting factor in many components of nuclear power plant in which failure of structural components presents a substantial hazard to both safety and economic performance. Uncertainties in the kinetics of short crack behaviour can have a strong influence on lifetime prediction, and arise due both to the complexity of the underlying mechanisms and to the difficulties of making experimental observations. This paper reports on an on-going research programme into the dynamics and morphology of intergranular stress corrosion cracking in austenitic stainless steels in simulated light water environments, which makes use of recent advances in high resolution X-ray microtomography. In particular in situ, three dimensional X-ray tomographic images of intergranular stress corrosion crack nucleation and growth in sensitised austenitic stainless steel provide evidence for the development of crack bridging ligaments, caused by the resistance of non-sensitised special grain boundaries. In parallel a simple grain bridging model, introduced to quantify the effect of crack bridging on crack development, has been assessed for thermo-mechanically processed microstructures via statically loaded room temperature simulant solution tests and as well as high temperature/pressure autoclave studies. Thermo-mechanical treatments have been used to modify the grain size, grain boundary character and triple junction distributions, with a consequent effect on crack behaviour. Preliminary three-dimensional finite element models of intergranular crack propagation have been developed, with the aim of investigating the development of crack bridging and its effects on crack propagation and crack coalescence. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)62-74
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
    Issue number1-3
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2006


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