Low Cycle Thermal Fatigue and Fracture of Reinforced Piping
A large diameter steel pipe reinforced by stiffening rings with saddle supports was subjected to thermal cycling as the system was started up, operated, and shut down. The pipe functioned as an emission control exhaust duct from a furnace and was designed originally using lengths of rolled and welded COR-TEN steel plate butt welded together on site. The pipe sustained local buckling and cracking, then fractured during the first five months of operation. Failure was due to low cycle fatigue and fast fracture caused by differential thermal expansion stresses. Thermal lag between the stiffening rings welded to the outside of the pipe and the pipe wall itself resulted in large radial and axial thermal stresses at the welds. Redundant tied down saddle supports in each segment of pipe between expansion joints restrained pipe arching due to circumferential temperature variations, producing large axial thermal bending stresses. Thermal cycling of the system initiated fatigue cracks at the stiffener rings. When the critical crack size was reached, fast fracture occurred. The system was redesigned by eliminating the redundant restraints and by modifying the stiffener rings to permit free radial thermal breathing of the pipe.
W.J. O'Donnell, J.M. Watson, W.B. Mallin, J.R. Kenrick, Low Cycle Thermal Fatigue and Fracture of Reinforced Piping, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Steelmaking and Thermal Processing Equipment, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.steel.c9001149
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