In the structural integrity assessment of a reactor pressure vessel (RPV), the fracture toughness (KJc) should be higher than the stress intensity factor at the crack tip of a semi-elliptical shaped under-clad crack (UCC), which is prescribed in JEAC4206-2016. However, differences in crack depth and existence of cladding between the postulated crack and fracture toughness test specimens would be affected to the plastic constraint state and KJc evaluation. In this study, we performed fracture toughness tests and finite element analyses to investigate the effect of plastic constraint and cladding on the semi-elliptical shaped crack in KJc evaluation. The apparent KJc value evaluated at the deepest point of the crack exceeded 5% fracture probability based on the Master Curve method estimated from C(T) specimens, and the conservativeness of the current integrity assessment method was confirmed. Few initiation sites were observed along the tip of semi-elliptical shaped crack other than the deepest point. The plastic constraint state was also analyzed along the crack tip, and it was found that the plastic constraint at the crack tip near the surface was lower than that for the deepest point. Moreover, it was quantitatively showed that the UCC decreased the plastic constraint. The local approach suggested higher KJc value for the UCC than that for the surface crack, reflecting the low constraint effect for the UCC.

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