The integrity of PWR pressure vessels is assured by keeping the crack tip stress intensity factor below the toughness of the material under monotonic isothermal loading. To study the effects of sudden cooling associated with a thermal gradient, a specially modified compact specimen has been developed. This has been used to carry out tests in the transition zone with different loading-temperature sequences liable to call the conventional criteria into question. The test is described in detail in Part I of this article [Chapuliot S. et al. Thermomechanical analysis of thermal shock fracture in the brittle/ductile transition zone. Part I: Description of the tests. Engng Fract Mech, 72, 2005, 661-73].
The second part describes numerical investigations to estimate the local mechanical fields at the crack tip and the overall parameters of the fracture mechanics. Finite element thermomechanical calculations are used to interpret the results of these new thermal shock tests using the master curve concept [ASTM E 1921-1997. Standard test method for determination of reference temperature To for ferritic steels in the transition range, 1997] and the Beremin statistical model [Beremin FM. A loacl criterion for cleavage fracture of a nuclear pressure vessel steel. Metalls Trans A, 14A, November 1983, 2287-777].
* CEA Saclay, ** IRSN Fontenay-aux-Roses,