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Influence of fatigue precracking and specimen size on Master Curve fracture toughness measurements of EUROFER97 and F82H steels

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Nuclear Materials and Energy
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EUROFER97 and F82H steels are two leading reduced-activation ferritic-martensitic (RAFM) steels for fusion first wall and blanket applications. Exposure to the harsh environment of fusion reactors can result in severe degradation of fracture toughness. Thus, the post-irradiation evaluation of fracture toughness is critical for understanding the material behavior. Due to the space constraints of irradiation facilities and challenges in controlling a uniform irradiation condition for large size specimens, the development of small specimen test techniques (SSTT) is indispensable to evaluate the performance of irradiated materials. In this study, we evaluated specimen size effects on the Master Curve fracture toughness of EUROFER97 and F82H steels. A wide variety of specimens, including 0.5 T compact tension (C(T)) specimens, 0.16 T mini-compact tension (miniC(T)) specimens, and 1.65 mm miniature bend bar specimens, were tested. The testing methodology was based on the Master Curve method in the ASTM E1921 standard. No specimen size effect was observed in 0.5 T C(T) and 0.16 T miniC(T) specimens on the Master Curve reference temperature T0, while 1.65 mm miniature bend bar specimens yielded a higher T0Q. A strong effect of fatigue precracking on T0 for 0.5 T C(T) and 0.16 T miniC(T) specimens was observed, such that testing on specimens with skewed fatigue precrack fronts resulted in lower T0 than for specimens with ASTM standard qualified straight fatigue precrack fronts. The results highlight the importance of experimental quality control in developing SSTT for Master Curve fracture toughness testing. Lastly, we also evaluated and provided recommendations on the minimum number of specimens needed for each specimen type for yielding reliable T0Q values.