In this paper, crack propagation in Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) graphite bricks with
ageing properties is studied using the eXtended Finite Element Method (X-FEM). A parametric study for crack
propagation, including the influence of different initial crack shapes and propagation criteria, is conducted. The
results obtained in the benchmark study show that the crack paths from X-FEM are similar to the experimental
ones. The accuracy of the strain energy release rate computation in a heterogeneous material is also evaluated
using a finite difference approach. Planar and non-planar 3D crack growth simulations are presented to
demonstrate the robustness and the versatility of the method utilized. Finally, this work contributes to the better understanding of crack propagation behaviour in AGR graphite bricks and so contributes to the extension of the AGR plants’ lifetimes in the UK by reducing uncertainties.
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