The Effect of Creep Strain Rate on Damage Accumulation in Type 316H Austenitic Stainless Steel


Research Area:

Nuclear Materials and Modelling


Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi


EDF Energy

Contact details:

The Challenge

High temperature assessment codes such as R5 are mainly based on standard forward creep tests. Therefore the complex geometry and load multi-axiality of service components are often ignored when assessing their integrities via the standard codes. For example, the forward creep test of round bars is not a true representation of the stress field that notched service components experience during operation.

Service components do not experience constant loads during their lifetime. Their primary load is reduced during the plant shutdown and their secondary load (e.g. weld residual stress could gradually reduce as a function of time).

The challenge presented by this project is to determine a series of experimental tests that will more accurately capture realistic plant operating conditions and to analyse these tests with finite element models.

Figure 1 - camera set-up designed for monitoring notch diameter throughout testing

The Solution

The experiments conducted in this research programme are on notched bar specimens; this introduces stress triaxiality factors in the notch tip higher than that obtained in round bars. High triaxiality factors imitate the conditions of service operation more realistically.

Figure 2 - image taken of specimen just before failure overlaid with the corresponding FEA simulation.

Repeat relaxation creep tests are designed to simulate the behaviour of components in load varying condition. Repeat relaxation tests are creep tests where a load is applied to a specimen very quickly, then the displacement is fixed. As the material creeps it relaxes and the stress drops but the creep strain and creep damage increase. The specimen is held for a set dwell time, after this the stress is re-applied to the original value and then the specimen is fixed at the new displacement and allowed to relax again, this is repeated up until failure of the specimen.

Novel experiments and testing methods were implemented to simulate more realistic plant operation while obtaining key information about commonly used powerplant material (Type 316H stainless steel).

The Impact

The work was sponsored by EDF energy and the test data from the experiments will be a valuable addition to their database and knowledge of this material to ensure that the risk of plant failures can be minimised. Furthermore, the safe operating life of the plants can be increased and the high risk components replaced/repaired as and when is needed.


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