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Thermal Shock Cracking: Design and Assessment Guidelines

[+] Author Affiliations
John W. H. Price

Monash University, Caufield East, Victoria, Australia

Paper No. PVP2005-71108, pp. 215-224; 10 pages
  • ASME 2005 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference
  • Volume 3: Design and Analysis
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, July 17–21, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4188-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3763-7
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Repeated thermal shock cracking is common in the operation of pressure equipment where water and steam are present. Surprisingly it is not directly covered in the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel code nor in fitness-for-purpose recommended practice such as API 579. An example of thermal shock stresses occurs when hot surfaces exposed to splashing of cold water. This eventually may lead to crack nucleation and crack growth. However not all thermal shock cracks lead to failures (such as rupture, leak or in more brittle material fragmentation), indeed the most frequent situation is that the cracking arrests at a depth of a few millimeters. This paper presents a unique experimental study and analysis the information being gained from this study in terms of design guidelines and crack growth mechanisms. In the experiments, cracks are initiated and then grown in low carbon steel specimens exposed to repeated thermal shock. The test-rigs achieve large thermal shocks through the repeated water quenching of heated flat plate specimens. The effect of steady state loads on the growth and environmental effects due to the aqueous nature of the testing environment are found to be major contributors to the crack growth kinetics. The most important findings are that are that the conditions leading to both the initiation and the arrest of cracks can be identified and that the depth of a starter notch contributes little to the crack propagation.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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