Brittle fracture analysis of Dissimilar Metal Welds between low-alloy steel and stainless steel at low temperatures

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Dissimilar Metal Welds (DMW) between low-alloy steel (A533 steel) and austenitic 316L stainless steel are widely used within the French nuclear power plants where they connect the main components to the primary circuit pipes. In these DMW, the welding process and the post-weld heat-treatment generate a hard thin layer of carburized martensite and austenite in the vicinity of the fusion line (FL), resulting in a heterogeneous microstructure with high mechanical properties gradient, hence potentially, a higher sensitivity to brittle fracture in the hard layer. The present study aims to evaluate the brittle behavior of the DMW at low temperatures and more particularly of the interface between the carburized martensite and austenite (MA interface). Fracture toughness tests were carried out at temperatures between-120°C and -50°C, with a precrack tip located on the ferritic side near the FL (i.e., between the ferritic steel and the stainless steel buttering). The analysis of the fracture behavior of the DMW was based on a SEM examination of CT (Compact Tension) specimens fracture surfaces. Coupled with a 2D plane strain numerical simulation of the tests, the results show that the presence of austenite in the fatigue precrack front and subsequent ductile tearing towards FL produced higher solicitations on the hard layer and caused intergranular fracture on the MA interface, resulting in lower toughness values for the specimen. To model the brittle behavior of the MA interface, a stress based criterion was used. Tensile tests on axisymmetric specimen, which were machined to initiate intergranular fracture in the MA interface and tested at -170°C, were used to define a threshold stress (σ th ), below which brittle fracture cannot occur. Then, a criterion to evaluate the brittle fracture risk of the DMW was proposed and applied to the CT specimen.




Salem, G. B., Chapuliot, S., Blouin, A., Bompard, P., & Jacquemoud, C. (2018). Brittle fracture analysis of Dissimilar Metal Welds between low-alloy steel and stainless steel at low temperatures. In Procedia Structural Integrity (Vol. 13, pp. 619–624). Elsevier B.V.

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