Protection Against Brittle Fracture

Design for brittle fracture is covered in detail in Section 500. At low temperatures, strength is less a consideration than the increasing susceptibility to brittle fracture. Brittle fractures generally occur without warning at stresses below the yield strength of the material.

Carbon and low-alloy steels are subject to brittle fracture at low temperatures and even at temperatures significantly above ambient, depending on the thickness, chemistry, method of manufacture, and other factors. The ASME Code, Section VIII, Division 1, rules regarding material toughness for carbon steels were implemented in January 1988.

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