Crack Initiation Modeling of a Directionally-Solidified Ni-base Superalloy

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Gordon, Ali Page
McDowell, David L.
Neu, Richard W.
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Combustion gas turbine components designed for application in power generation equipment are subject to periodic replacement as a result of cracking, damage, and mechanical property degeneration that render them unsafe for continued operation. In view of the significant costs associated with inspecting, servicing, and replacing damaged components, there has been much interest in developing models that not only predict service life, but also estimate the evolved state of the material. This thesis explains manifestations of microstructural damage mechanisms that facilitate fatigue crack nucleation in directionally-solidified (DS) Ni-base superalloy components exposed to elevated temperatures and high stresses. In this study, models were developed and validated for damage and life prediction using DS GTD-111 as the subject material. This material has a chemical composition and grain structure designed to withstand creep damage occurring in blades of gas-powered turbines. The service conditions in these components, which generally exceed 600C, facilitate the onset of one or more damage mechanisms related to fatigue, creep, or environment. The study was divided into an empirical phase, which consisted of experimentally simulating service conditions in fatigue specimens, and a modeling phase, which entailed numerically simulating the stress-strain response of the material. Tests have been carried out to simulate a variety of thermal, mechanical, and environmental operating conditions endured by longitudinally (L) and transversely (T) oriented DS GTD-111. In some cases, tests in extreme environments/temperatures were needed to isolate one or at most two of the mechanisms causing damage. Microstructural examinations were carried out via microscopy. A continuum crystal plasticity model was used to simulate the material behavior in the L and T orientations. The constitutive model was implemented in ABAQUS and a parameter estimation scheme was developed to obtain the material constants. A physically-based model was developed for correlating crack initiation life based on the experimental life data. Assuming a unique relationship between the damage fraction and cycle fraction with respect to cycles to crack initiation for each damage mode, total crack initiation life has been represented in terms of the individual damage components observed at the end state of crack initiation.
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