Elson Albuquerque1, Teofilo Barbosa Neto2, Rafael Tanaka3, John Smyth4, Ruairi Nestor5, Adrian Connaire6, Carlos Godinho7, Otávio Sertã8

Copyright 2012, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP
This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, held between September, 1720, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or correct the submitted papers. The material as it is presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Proceedings.

The correct prediction of the load capacity of an end fitting structure is a key issue in the design of a flexible pipe system. The end fitting must provide sealing of the polymeric layers against internal fluid leakage and external fluid ingress, as well as providing structural support (anchoring) for all the armor wires. The anchoring capacity of an end fitting is strongly influenced by the adhesive strength between tensile armor wires and resin and the embedded profile of the wires. The bond strength between the wires and epoxy, in turn, depends on the variability of the resin injection process, assembly process and resin cure temperature. As a result, predicting the load capacity of end fittings is a complex problem and is dependent on the accurate simulation of the debonding process. This work presents the development and validation of advanced finite element models to simulate the initiation and progression of the debonding process. The method uses a surface based cohesive model to describe the mechanical behaviour of the bond in terms of the surface tractions on the interface between the wires and the epoxy. Validation of the approach is based on data from a series of experimental tests. Firstly, simple coupon tests are performed to characterize the behavior of the steel-epoxy bond under pure shear and pure tensile loading. Secondly more detailed testing is performed on single tensile armour wires and their associated epoxy embedment. In the latter case, the armour wires in the end fitting have been instrumented, allowing direct comparison of numerical results with experimental data. This paper describes the principles and assumptions adopted in the development of an advanced end termination model, the test correlations and the calibration and scope of application of the debonding model.

1. Introduction
The most recent finds of oil in ultra-deep waters point to a scenario of ever increasing harshness of application for all equipment involved in oil and gas exploitation. Flexible pipes, which are used for the transport of fluids to and from the production unit, face the challenge of increasing working pressures, both internal and external, as well higher tensions due to increasing water depth and more onerous environment conditions. Further, flexible pipes are sometimes required to transport fluids with large quantities of aggressive chemicals. This limits the scope of applicable materials and increases the need for further optimisation of design capabilities.

______________________________ 1 Product Development Engineer – Prysmian Surflex 2 Product Development Manager – Prysmian Surflex 3 Product Development Engineer – Prysmian Surflex 4 Consultant Structural Engineer – MCS Kenny 5 Project Engineer – MCS Kenny 6 National University of Ireland Galway and MCS Kenny 7 R&D Director – Prysmian Surflex 8 Director – Wood Group Kenny do Brasil

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In this paper, the authors describe the development of a finite element based method for predicting the nonlinear behaviour of the anchoring of tensile armour wires in a flexible pipe end-fitting. The first section of the paper describes the function and typical arrangement of the tensile armour anchoring mechanism within an end-fitting. The second section of the paper details the surface-based cohesive model used to represent the behaviour of the steel-epoxy interface in the embedded region. In addition, the simple coupon tests used to provide basic input parameters for the model are described. The third section of the paper describes the calibration of the cohesive model and the sensitivity of the cohesive model to a number of important parameters. This is achieved by incorporating the cohesive model within finite element models of detailed physical tests, representing realistic end-fitting conditions. These models are then correlated against test data.

2. Flexible Pipe End-fitting Anchoring Systems
The terminations in a flexible pipe are described as end fittings. The end fitting has two main functions: 1. To terminate the metallic layers in the pipe so that axial loads and bending moments are transmitted into the end connector without adversely affecting the fluid-containing layers. To provide a pressure tight transition between the pipe body and the connector.


The tensile armour wires in a flexible pipe are terminated in an epoxy filled void in the end-fitting (after being configured to a specific shape). Embedment in epoxy provides the load path through which tensile loads in the flexible pipe are distributed to the end-fitting structure. Figure 1 illustrates a typical cross-section through an end-fitting, illustrating the anchoring zone.

Figure 1. Typical Tensile Armour Wire Embedment within an End-fitting [1] Stress analysis of tensile wires inside an end fitting structure is complex due to the epoxy embedment. The wire stress distribution inside an end fitting is quite different from that inside a flexible pipe. Factors contributing to the complexity of the stress state include the bonding and debonding between the armor wire and the resin, geometric issues due to end fitting configuration and end fitting tensile wire assembly method (folding and unfolding process). Of particular importance to the calculation of realistic wire stresses in a numerical model is the inclusion of the debonding between the wire and epoxy in the model.


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3. Surface-based Cohesive Model
3.1. Theory In the present work, the interface between the epoxy and the steel wire is modeled using the surface-based cohesive model within Abaqus [2]. This approach simulates the non-linear behavior of the bond using an interaction (contact) property. Using this approach, degradation of cohesion and debonding strictly occurs at the interface. Any localised material failures in the epoxy or steel which may precipitate debonding are not included directly in the simulation but are included in the calibration of the cohesive properties used. Figure 2 illustrates the approach.

Figure 2. Surface-based Approach to Simulating Epoxy-Wire Interface Properties for the cohesive model are based on user-defined Traction-Separation response curves which characterize the initiation and progression of damage in the interface. At the start of the analysis, the interface is assumed to be fully bonded. During analysis, at each contact slave node, the tensile and shear contact stresses and relative displacements are calculated. These are then compared to the user-defined Traction-Separation curves in the shear and normal directions, which determine whether a contact point is bonded, partially debonded or fully debonded. The contact principal directions are illustrated in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Principal Directions at Contact Nodes Figure 4 illustrates the Traction-Separation model graphically. In each of the three principal contact directions, a linear elastic relationship between contact stress (traction) and separation at each contact node is assumed initially. In the present work, a maximum stress approach is used as a criterion to determine the limit of elastic behavior. The initial contact stiffness in each of the contact directions Knn, Kss, Ktt, and the associated traction (contact stress) limits in each contact direction t0n,, t0s, and t0t are pre-defined.


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Limit of initial elastic behavior (Maximum Stress Criterion = 1.0)

Maximum Stress Criterion = 0.0

Figure 4. Traction-Separation Response In the maximum stress criterion, damage is assumed to initiate when the maximum contact stress ratio reaches a value of unity. The maximum stress criterion is shown in Equation 1.


The maximum stress criterion at each contact node is tracked over time. Once the maximum stress criterion in Equation 1 is reached at a given contact node, a scalar damage variable D is introduced, which controls the degradation of the bond cohesive stiffness according to a pre-defined criterion. In the present work a linear damage evolution, based on effective separation at a contact node is used. The instantaneous effective separation at a contact node is calculated from the contact separation components δn, δs and δt, using Equation 2: (2) In this case, the effective separation at complete debonding relative to the separation at damge initiation, (δfm δ m) is pre-defined. The linear separation damage variable in terms of effective contact separations is given by Equation 3:


In Equation 3, δmaxm is the maximum effective contact separation in the entire loading history. Figure 5 illustrates the degradation of cohesion according to Equation 3. Throughout a simulation, the damage variable at each contact node is tracked. When D reaches a value of unity, the contact node is considered to be fully debonded.


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Damage Initiation Scalar Damage Variable D = 0.0

Complete Debonding Scalar Damage Variable D = 1.0

Figure 5. Bond Damage Evolution Once complete debonding occurs at a contact node, the contact status at that node reverts to a frictional sliding formulation. Figure 6 illustrates how this enables progressive cohesive damage in the interface with increasing load to be modelled, with the debonded zone reverting to frictional sliding contact.

Figure 6. Transition to Frictional Sliding with Cohesive Debonding 3.2. Initial Models In order to determine basic interface properties for the cohesive model, a series of simple experimental tests were performed. These were designed to characterize basic properties of the steel–epoxy interface under pure shear and pure tension load conditions. Figure 7 illustrates the test arrangements used to characterize the shear tensile behaviors.

Figure 7. Shear and Tensile Test Arrangements for Calculating Basic Interface Properties 5

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4. Full Scale Model Testing and Correlation
A series of detailed, fully instrumented physical tests were performed to calibrate the cohesive model. The tests were designed to represent realistic terminations of single tensile armour wires in an end-fitting. Figure 8 illustrates the test arrangement and the location of strain gauges on the surface of the embedded wire. Figure 9 illustrates a finite element model (FEM) used to simulate one of the tests. Abaqus v6.10-1 [2] was used in all simulations. The FEM included explicit representation of the strain gauges for direct correlation with test. In the FEM, linear elastic properties were assumed for the epoxy and elastic-plastic properties were applied to the wire.

Figure 8. Physical Test Arrangement

Figure 9. Finite Element Model of Physical Test The primary method of calibration of the cohesive model in the FEM is correlation with the load-extension data from the physical tests. The sensitivity of the load-extension curve to numerous parameters controlling the behavior of the cohesive model was investigated. These include: • • • • • • Contact normal traction limit Contact shear traction limit Contact normal elastic stiffness Contact shear elastic stiffness Damage effective separation Post-debonding friction coefficient 6

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The most significant factor influencing the correlation achieved is the contact shear stress limit. Figure 10 shows the sensitivity of the correlation achieved with test results to an increasing value of contact shear stress limit. Using an appropriate value, a close correlation can be achieved. In contrast, the correlation is relatively insensitive to the contact normal stress limit. Indeed for the prediction of initial debonding, consideration of the contact normal stress component can be omitted from the cohesive model, simplifying the calibration procedure.

Increasing Contact Shear Stress Limit

Figure 10. Sensitivity of Load-Extension Correlation to Contact Shear Stress Limit For the test arrangement shown in Figures 7, 8 and 9, material failure in the wire occurred outside the embedded region prior to complete debonding. It is therefore not clear the extent to which debonding had occurred at failure. Further tests were performed with a reduced embedded wire length to induce a complete separation of the wire and epoxy prior to material failure in the wire. Simulation of this arrangement provides a more rigorous test of the cohesive model. Figure 11 shows the load-extension correlation achieved with the reduced length test.

Figure 11. Load-Extension Correlation for Reduced Length Test Using the optimum cohesive parameters from the first series of tests, the FEM achieves a good correlation with the test data up to initial debonding and captures the change in slope corresponding to the initial stiffness reduction. 7

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Evaluation of the maximum stress criterion confirms that cohesion begins to degrade at the appropriate load level. However, once rapid debonding starts to occur, convergence is not achievable using an implicit numerical solution method. To overcome this issue, the test was also simulated using an explicit dynamic solution scheme. Figure 12 shows the correlation achieved using the explicit scheme. The response from the explicit solver exhibits more scatter than the physical test data, partly because the loading rate is higher in the FEA but also because, for the numerical analysis, debonding occurs discretely at the contact nodes. Nevertheless, a good correlation is achieved at complete disbonding of the entire wire. The explicit analysis can simulate the pull-through of the debonded wire and indicates that the reduction in load observed in the test and FEA occurs when the hook feature at the end of the wire is pulled straight, as shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12. Load-Extension Correlation for Reduced Length Test using Explicit Dynamic Solver

5. Conclusions
A surface-based cohesive interaction property has been used to simulate numerically the non-linear behavior and failure of epoxy-steel bonds in a flexible pipe end fitting. The numerical method has been calibrated against physical test data and good correlations have been achieved. An implicit solution scheme can be used up to the onset of rapid debonding in the bond, but convergence problems occur at higher loads. The explicit dynamic solver has been used to mitigate these issues and has been used to successfully simulate complete pull through of armour wires. The contact shear stress limit has been shown to be the dominant factor controlling the onset of debonding. The method presented in this paper is likely to give reliable predictions of the behavior of tensile armour anchoring systems up to and including the initial degradation of cohesive strength. In its current form, the method does not inherently account for the variability in epoxy-steel bond due to surface preparation or curing conditions.

6. Acknowledgements 7. References
[1] API Spec 17B, Recommended Practice for Flexible Pipe (Third Edition), American Petroleum Institute, 120 L Street, N.W., Washington D.C. 20005, USA [2] Abaqus v6.10-1 Theory Manual, Dassault Systemes Simulia Corp., Rising Sun Mills, 166 Valley Street, Providence, RI, USA