Previous work at Battelle-Columbus on the development of a theoretical model for unstable crack propagation and crack arrest in a pressurized pipeline is extended in this paper by including the effect of backfill. The approach being developed involves four essential aspects of crack propagation in pipelines. These four components of the problem are: 1 – a shell theory characterization of the dynamic deformation of a pipe with a plastic yield-hinge behind an axially propagating crack, 2 – a fluid-mechanics treatment of the axial variations in the gas pressure acting on the pipe walls, 3 – an energy-based dynamic fracture mechanics formulation for the crack-driving force, and 4 – measured values of the dynamic energy absorption rate for pipeline steels. Comparisons given in the paper show that the steady-state crack speeds predicted by the model are in reasonably good agreement with the crack speeds measured in full-scale tests, both with and without backfill. The analysis further reveals the existence of a maximum steady-state crack-driving force as a function of the basic mechanical properties of the pipe steel and the pipeline goemetry and operating conditions. Quantitative estimates of this quantity provided by the model offer a basis for comparison with the empirical crack-arrest design criteria for pipelines developed by AISI, the American Gas Association, the British Gas Council, and British Steel. These are also shown to be in substantial agreement with the predictions of the model developed in this paper.

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