Microstructural parameters governing cleavage fracture behaviors in the ductile-brittle transition region in reactor pressure vessel steels

Won Jon Yang, Bong Sang Lee, Yong Jun Oh, Moo Young Huh, Jun Hwa Hong

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39 Citations (Scopus)


The fracture behaviors in the ductile-brittle transition region of reactor pressure vessel (RPV) steels with similar chemical compositions but different manufacturing processes were examined in view of cleavage fracture stress at crack-tip. The steels typically had a variation in grain size and carbide size distribution through the different manufacturing processes. Fracture toughness was evaluated by using a statistical method in accordance to the ASTM standard E1921. From the fractography of the tested specimens, it was found that fracture toughness of the steels increased with increasing distance from the crack-tip to the cleavage initiating location, namely cleavage initiation distance (CID, Xf) and its statistical mean value (K JC(med)) was proportional to the cleavage fracture stress (σf) determined from finite-element (FE) calculation at cleavage initiating location. On the other hand, σ f could also be calculated by applying the size of microstructural parameters, such as carbide, grain and bainite packet, into the Griffith's theory for brittle fracture. Among the parameters, the σ f obtained from the mean diameter of the carbides above 1% of the total population was in good agreement with the σ f value from the FE calculation for the five different steels. The results suggest that the fracture toughness of bainitic RPV steels in the transition region is mostly influenced by only some 1% of total carbides and the critical step for cleavage fracture of the RPV steels should be the propagation of this carbide size crack to the adjacent ferrite matrix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Aug 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been carried out as a part of Reactor Material Fracture Characterization Project which is financially supported by the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology. The authors acknowledge the valuable discussion with Dr. M.C. Kim.


  • Cleavage fracture stress (σ)
  • Cleavage initiation distance (CID)
  • Fracture toughness
  • Reactor pressure vessel (RPV)
  • Stress distribution
  • Transition region

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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