Assessment of weld residual stress effects on fatigue crack propagation in ferritic pressure vessel steels.

  • Carlos Jimenez Acosta

Student thesis: Phd


This project aims to characterise the fatigue behaviour of a crack propagating in a residual stress field changing from tension to compression in the welded zone of a ferritic pressure vessel steel. The fatigue tests were carried out keeping the applied stress intensity factor range constant to determine the role of residual stresses on fatigue crack growth. The residual stresses prior to crack growth were evaluated by X-ray diffraction. The weight function method was used to infer the expected influence of the residual stress on the crack tip in terms of the residual stress intensity factor.Two metrics were used to quantify the crack driving force local to the fatigue crack. Firstly the stress intensity amplitude expressed in terms of the change in the J-integral between maximum and minimum load and secondly the change in the crack opening displacement COD to estimate closure stress intensity factor. The displacement fields local to a fatigue crack were obtained by Digital Image Correlation (DIC) and then analysed by JMAN, an in-house developed algorithm to extract the J-integral based on finite element method and implemented using MATLAB. The difference between the applied stress intensity factor range and the effective crack driving force at the crack tip was determined in order to understand the interaction between the prior residual stresses and crack closure phenomena. Three different R-ratios were evaluated during the experiment (R=0.1, R=0.3 and R=0.5) in order to quantify the effect of residual stress on crack tip stress intensity and crack opening displacement. R-ratio plays a very important role on the fatigue crack growth rate (FCGR): as R increases, FCGR also increases. The COD was assessed by means of the displacements obtained by DIC local to the crack faces. The COD method turned out to be more insightful than the JMAN method for characterising the crack propagation, this is due to the presence of plasticity in the ligament which breaks the non-linear elastic conditions, causing the path-dependence on the J-integral.The FCGR is influenced to a greater degree by the R-ratio and to a lesser degree by the residual stress effect. There is a direct relationship between R and FCGR: as R increases, FCGR also increases, irrespective of the presence of tensile or compressive residual stresses, with the crack closure showing more tendency to occur at low R (i.e. R=0.1) than at high R (i.e. R=0.5). The relationship between R and the residual stress effects on FCGR is inversely proportional: as R increases, the effect of RS decreases.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPhilip Withers (Supervisor) & Andrew Sherry (Supervisor)


  • stress intensity factor range, Digital Image Correlation, JMAN, COD, residual stresses

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