The dependency of the crack growth rate on the loading pattern and temperature in stress corrosion cracking of strain-hardened 316L stainless steels in a simulated BWR environment

Zhanpeng Lu, Tetsuo Shoji, Yoichi Takeda, Yuzuru Ito, Seiya Yamazaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The stress corrosion cracking (SCC) growth rate of a warm-rolled (WR) 316L stainless steel contoured double cantilever (CDCB) specimen was measured in high purity water at various temperatures and under various loading patterns. An alternating current potential drop (ACPD) technique was used to monitor the crack growth kinetics throughout the tests. The fracture surface exhibited typical intergranular SCC characteristics. Depending on the test conditions, three kinds of crack growth kinetics, i.e., increasing with time then becoming steady, being constant during the whole period, decreasing with time then becoming steady, were identified and are described. The steady state crack growth rate (CGR) values are used to quantify the effects of the loading pattern and the environmental temperature. A moderate increase in the crack growth rate was encountered by employing periods of unloading and reloading to form a trapezoidal loading pattern and the enhancement factor was found to depend on the holding time and the times for unloading and reloading. It was found that the crack growth is thermally activated; however, the apparent activation energy is not constant but seems to be greater at higher temperatures. Several types of temperature-dependent crack growth kinetics are proposed based on the rate-determining step for the crack growth. The present experimental results can be rationalized by considering multiple element processes such as aqueous mass transport and solid-state mass transport in the crack growth. The cracking mode, the temperature dependence of the crack growth rate, and the transient crack growth behavior for WR 316L SS after changing the environmental temperature are quite similar to those for a cold-worked(CW) 316L SS tested in the same environment, despite their different absolute crack growth rate values. The effect of yield strength on CGR is more significant at lower temperatures and the apparent activation energy for the crack growth rate seems to be lower in the material with a higher yield strength. Time-lag crack growth behavior was found at points during several test steps on WR 316L SS, for example, just after in situ pre-cracking and after increasing or decreasing the temperature, which is quite consistent with the results obtained with CW 316L SS. The importance of in situ monitoring of the crack growth for obtaining steady state crack growth rates is emphasized, especially for those steps for which a nonlinear crack growth period occurs after changing the test condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-712
Number of pages15
JournalCorrosion Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Mar


  • A. Simulated boiling-water reactor environment
  • A. Warm-rolled 316L stainless steel
  • C. Apparent thermal activation energy
  • C. Crack growth rate
  • C. Intergranular stress corrosion cracking


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