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Criteria For Eliminating Cyclic Limit For PVHO Flat Disc Windows

Criteria For Eliminating Cyclic Limit For PVHO Flat Disc Windows

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Published by Bart Kemper, P.E.
Acrylics (Poly Methyl Methalcrylate,
or PMMA) are a proven, reliable
material for Pressure Vessel for Human
Occupancy (PVHO) windows. The current
codes and standards reflect a first-generation
development of defining a nonmetallic for
pressure vessel application. Subsequent
investigations in material science as well as
decades of operational experience indicates
the code-specified 10,000 cycle limit for some
flat disc acrylic ASME PVHO windows may
be eliminated using criteria consistent with
the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code.
Acrylics (Poly Methyl Methalcrylate,
or PMMA) are a proven, reliable
material for Pressure Vessel for Human
Occupancy (PVHO) windows. The current
codes and standards reflect a first-generation
development of defining a nonmetallic for
pressure vessel application. Subsequent
investigations in material science as well as
decades of operational experience indicates
the code-specified 10,000 cycle limit for some
flat disc acrylic ASME PVHO windows may
be eliminated using criteria consistent with
the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code.

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Published by: Bart Kemper, P.E. on Jul 31, 2013
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06/17/2014

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Proceedings of the 2013 Joint ASME/USCG Workshop on Marine Technology & StandardsJuly 24-25, 2013, Arlington, Virginia, USA
 
Criteria For Eliminating Cyclic LimitFor PVHO Flat Disc Windows
Bart Kemper, P.E.
Principal Engineer Kemper Engineering Services, LLCBaton Rouge, LAABSTRACT:
Acrylics (Poly Methyl Metha-lcrylate, or PMMA) are a proven, reliablematerial for Pressure Vessel for HumanOccupancy (PVHO) windows. The currentcodes and standards reflect a first-generationdevelopment of defining a nonmetallic for  pressure vessel application. Subsequentinvestigations in material science as well asdecades of operational experience indicatesthe code-specified 10,000 cycle limit for someflat disc acrylic ASME PVHO windows may be eliminated using criteria consistent withthe ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code.
Acrylics
, or Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA),is a commonly used viewport material for submersible and other Pressure Vessels for Human Occupancy (PVHOs). The initial coderules for acrylic were published over 30 years agoand were highly conservative due to its noveltyand lack of long-term data. Industry now hasdecades of experience as well as various advancesin material science. Just as various societies and jurisdictions have updated many of its rules and procedures for conventional pressure vessels, this paper addresses updating the approach to part of safety code pertaining to acrylics in pressurevessel applications.The American Society of MechanicalEngineers (ASME) is the U.S. code society publishing the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code(BPVC) used in North America. It has also beenadopted in one form or another by other nations.The BPVC has well established rules for usingsteels and other materials. The use of acrylics isdefined in Safety Standard for Pressure Vesselsfor Human Occupancy, also known as PVHO-1.[1] This code builds on BPVC and adds theapplication-specific needs for PVHO, to includeviewports.PVHO Section 2-1.2 (d) limits the number of cycles to 10,000 cycles. While it is the result odozens of papers and hundreds of experiments,this limit is not based strictly on material properties. PMMA has a flexural endurance limitof approximately 2,600 psi. [2] This is shown inFig. 1. Like most other materials, notches and
 
  Acrylic Window Fatigue / 2
other stress concentrators reduce fatigue life, asshown in Fig. 2 [2]. It is noted there are severalgrades and types of PMMA approved for PVHOapplications (Table 2.6 [3]). Not all types of PMMA meet the requirements for PVHOapplications.
Fig. 1. Flexural fatigue life, annotated tohighlight 10,000 cycles and the endurance limit.[2]
Based on the Figs. 1 and 2, it appearswindows can be designed to be well below thefatigue curve and be at “infinite life.” Aconservative initial value for a “limiting cyclicstress” (LCS) is 12.55 MPa (1820 psi). This valueis 70 percent below the literature values, allowingfor variance in PVHO-compliant PMMA blends,minor defects allowable in PVHO-2 (Guidelinesfor In-Service PVHOs), and provides a designmargin with respect to strain energy.
Fig. 2. Fatigue curves showing the effect ocracks on fatigue life. The 10,000 cycle limit inPVHO is annotated on the figure. [2]
The 10,000 cycle limit has potential economicimpact on submersibles and some hyperbaricapplications that can expect many cycles per day.Many windows reaching 10,000 cycles exhibit noflaws or defect and give every indication they areas serviceable as the day they were installed. Thecosts associated with the replacement, test procedures, and associated downtime can besignificant.However, according to PVHO the 10,000limit can only be extended by empirical testing.Section 2-2.7.9 [1]. This allows adding onedesign cycle for every two cycles tested above aninitial 10,000 cycles tested. Each cycle requires atleast 15 minutes at full pressure (or 1.5 times thetime needed to stabilize creep, whichever isgreater) followed by a depressurization of 10minutes (or 1.5 times the time needed to stabilizecreep, whichever is greater).If one assumes an average of two cycles per hour with continuous testing, it would take about6.8 months to reach the 10,000 cycle threshold before additional cycles could be credited. Onlythat specific pairing to a specific window mountwith that maximum tested temperature can receivethis credit. This can create a significantcommercial burden and market entry delay for agiven design.
Fatigue Mechanism
Fatigue failure can be described as the progressive and localized structural damage whena material is subject to cyclic loading. PMMA is aviscoelastic material. [4] For PVHO windows,the allowable design temperatures range from10
˚
C to 66
˚
C (50-150
˚
F) (Table 2-3.4-1 [1]).These temperatures are well below the glasstransition temperature of PMMA, which rangesfrom 110-120
˚
C (230-248
˚
F). Unlike traditional pressure vessel materials, it is sensitive to creep inthis temperature range with significant deviationsin ultimate strength, yield strength and other  properties. [5]The specific fatigue mechanisms for PMMAare still being established. Some researchindicates that fatigue competes between twomechanisms: polymer chain slippage and chainscission. It also indicates increased molecular weight due to crosslinking does not uniformlyincrease fatigue properties. While many previousfindings indicate high molecular weight PMMAhas superior fatigue properties, tests with a higher mean stress, or R, indicate lower molecular PMMA displays better fatigue properties. This is
 
  Acrylic Window Fatigue / 3
due to competition between chain slippage andchain scission is related to the alternative stresslevels R and the stress intensification factor K aredriven by different molecular interactions. [6]Investigating crazing deformation duringfatigue indicates no cyclic rate dependence or waveform dependence for crack propagation of similar crack geometries as measured by the stressintensification factor K. [7] Subsequent work indicates that flaws previously discounted in muchof the previous research in the field asinsignificant serve as the nucleus for crazeformation and that von Mises stresses indicatingyielding can be used to predict plastic conditionsneeded to create crazing. [8] Other work pointsmore to specific activation energy levels.Investigating fatigue-crack propagation (FCP)indicates the crack propagation is essentially thetransition from the “glassy” to the
β
transition phase as a viscoelastic material. [9] High strainrates and high cyclic rates create significant heatwithin the structure with the material acting at or above the glassy transition temperature, whichthen leads to fatigue failure. This same researchfurther indicated no influence of molecular weightdistribution on deformation kinetics as well assupports the development of fatigue endurancelimits under conditions below the glass transitiontemperature. [10]
PVHO Window Design Process
The key element of agreement within materialscience literature is that PMMA and similar approved PVHO glassy polymers will not exhibitfatigue failure without an existing crack attemperatures consistent with PVHO application.This is supported by no reports of PVHO-compliant window failures through open sourcemethods. It is also consistent with the PVHOwindow design process results in design marginsgreater than PVHO shell. This results in the firstdesign failure mode being a structural elementother than the window. With designs using polymer seals or gaskets, the polymer structureswill fail before the windows or window seat inaccordance with the informal “leak before failure”design philosophy cited during open sessions of the PVHO subcommittees.Other code requirements contribute to protection from PMMA fatigue mechanisms.Windows must be replaced if they have a visiblecrack or hazing that obscures vision. PVHOapplications require cycles that last many minutes,if not hours or days, per cycle with a maximum pressurization rate of 4.5 MPa/min (650 psi/min).The reduces both the strain rate and cyclic rate below the various thresholds reported in the citedliterature. [6] [10] [11]Creep does occur with PMMA within thePVHO application range. However, the stresslevels typical for a properly designed PVHOwindow results in negligible creep in the life of the window. [3] These stress levels are well below the levels associated with damage, asexcessive creep is also associated with crazingformation. [12] Maximum code allowable axialdisplacement of a flat disc window is 0.30 of the bearing gasket uncompressed thickness. Thisdeflection includes creep, window deflection, and pressure-induced gasket compression. [1] Thisfurther indicates the window is well within theglassy phase and not heavily stressed, otherwisethe deflection would be greater.
Flat Disc Windows
Flat disc windows are the most commonPVHO window due to simplicity and cost. Twodesigns will be compared. The first is known tosafely exceed the 10,000 cycle limit. AtlantisSubmarines reports having a PVHO flat disk 

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