Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) often occurs in clusters or colonies containing anywhere from a few cracks to hundreds of individual cracks. Multiple closely spaced cracks may interact, resulting in a burst pressure lower than what might be expected from a single crack. Most existing flaw interaction rules account for these interactions by using a single interacting crack to represent multiple cracks when the separations between them are less than a critical spacing. The length of this interacting crack is usually the sum of the individual crack length plus the spacing between them. Using this interacting length and the maximum depth in the colony could produce overly conservative burst pressure predictions which can lead to unnecessary hydrotests and/or other remediation actions.

This two-paper series covers the PRCI-funded work aimed at the development of intelligent flaw interaction rules (termed PRCI-CRES SIA-1-5 rules) that can account more accurately the impact of multiple cracks without being overly conservative. This paper focuses on the development of the rules using numerical analyses. A companion paper covers the evaluation of the rules through full-scale burst tests.

The PRCI-CRES SIA-1-5 rules use the principles of equivalent impact among multiple interacting cracks and represent the magnitude of the impact by a single virtual crack. The new rules do not rely on a critical spacing to determine whether there is an interaction. The magnitude of the interaction is a continuous function of the size of adjacent cracks and the spacing between them.

A large number of finite element analyses (FEA) were conducted to examine the interaction among cracks for many crack configurations, including coplanar and noncoplanar cracks with different sizes and spacings. An analysis process was then developed to use the sizes and spacings of all cracks in an SCC colony to predict the equivalent virtual crack size and burst pressure.

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