In the framework of the hydrogen flakes issue concerning the reactor pressure vessels of the two Belgian NPP’s Doel 3 and Tihange 2, the Federal Agency of Nuclear Control required to perform tests on large scale specimens taken from a block representative of the pressure vessels with the double objective of validating the structural integrity approach and of verifying the load capacity of the specimens affected by flakes.

The large scale tests were led on many kinds of specimens: 4 points bending specimens, CT specimens and tensile specimens containing hydrogen flakes or flawed with EDM notches. All of these tests have been simulated using extend finite element method (XFEM).

The paper describes the linear elastic and elastic-plastic fracture mechanics calculations performed in the frame of these large scale tests using XFEM and presents the comparison between simulations and experiments.

A focus is done on the XFEM capabilities to model 3D complex shaped flaws like hydrogen flakes.

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