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Fracture Toughness Tests at 77 K and 4 K on 316L Stainless Steel Welded Plates



Jake Benzing, Nicholas Derimow, Enrico Lucon, Dash Weeks


In the framework of a collaborative project between ASME, NASA, and NIST, quasi-static fracture toughness tests have been performed at liquid nitrogen temperature (77 K, or -196 °C) and liquid helium temperature (4 K, or -269 °C) on weld specimens extracted from the centers of four 316L welded stainless steel plates, each produced by a different vendor. Although the plates were produced in accordance with the same specifications from the same material (316L), large differences in fracture toughness have been observed, with the best weld (W2) exhibiting twice the critical toughness of the worst (W1) at 77 K, and more than seven times the critical toughness of W1 at 4 K. The Charpy absorbed energies recorded at 77 K for three of the welds within the same project were found to be strongly linearly correlated with fracture toughness at both test temperatures. The exception was weld W4, which provided the highest impact toughness and the second lowest quasi-static fracture toughness (stable crack initiation and resistance to crack propagation).
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2230
Report Number


316L stainless steel, apparent negative crack growth, liquid helium, liquid nitrogen, pressure vessels fracture toughness, tearing modulus, welding.


Benzing, J. , Derimow, N. , Lucon, E. and Weeks, D. (2022), Fracture Toughness Tests at 77 K and 4 K on 316L Stainless Steel Welded Plates, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created July 29, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022