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A detailed fracture mechanics evaluation is the most accurate and reliable prediction of process equipment susceptibility to brittle fracture. This article provides an overview and discussion on brittle fracture. The discussion covers the purpose for evaluating, provides a brief summary of historical failures that were found to be a result of brittle fracture, and describes key components that drive susceptibility to a brittle fracture failure, namely stress, toughness/temperature, and flaw size. It also presents industry codes and standards that assess susceptibility to brittle fracture. Additionally, a series of case study examples are presented that demonstrate assessment procedures used to mitigate the risk of brittle fracture in process equipment.

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