SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1992

Advanced Fracture Mechanics Analyses of the Service Performance of Polyethylene Gas Distribution Piping Systems


Most of the plastic gas distribution pipe now in service is polyethylene (PE). While this material has an excellent safety record, due to a variety of abnormal loadings that can arise in long-time service, some slow crack growth (SCG) related field failures have occurred. Accelerated test procedures to accurately predict the long-term performance of PE gas pipes are therefore required for the evaluation of existing gas piping systems and to qualify new pipe materials prior to installation. In addition, particularly as interest in the use of larger diameter and higher pressure polyethylene pipes increases, rapid crack propagation (RCP) can occur in a gas piping system at the site of an SCG failure, or as a result of third party damage, or by other similarly unforeseeable mechanisms, attention must be given to the possibility of RCP. Accordingly, dynamic fracture mechanics research aimed at preventing RCP in PE gas distribution pipelines has also been carried out. This paper reviews current advanced fracture mechanisms research on PE gas pipe materials that investigates both SCG and RCP events.

Author Information

O'Donoghue, PE
University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Kanninen, MF
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX
Popelar, CF
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX
Popelar, CH
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
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Developed by Committee: E08
Pages: 257–273
DOI: 10.1520/STP23708S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5193-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1440-1