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Basics of Pipe Stress - (1)

Posted by Ankit Chugh on 4:39 AM 8 Comments

1. Introduction:

Present day process plant piping systems use various fluids at

various conditions of pressure and temperature. The piping engineer
has to design the systems to ensure reliability and safety
throughout designed plant life. The piping systems are subjected to
combined effects of fluid internal pressure, its own weight and
restrained thermal expansion. The elevated temperature also affects
the pipe strength adversely. Therefore the task of the engineer is:

i) To specify an adequate wall thickness to sustain the internal

pressure with safety.

ii) To select a piping layout with an adequate flexibility

points of anchorage to absorb its thermal expansion
exceeding allowable material stress levels, also reacting
and moments at the points of anchorage must be kept below


iii) To limit the additional stresses due to the dead weight of the
piping by providing suitable supporting system- effective for cold
as well as hot conditions.

All these objectives are achieved by:

a) Assuming adequate support to prevent excessive

sag and stresses in piping system.

accommodate stress resulting from changes in pipe
length due to thermal effects and movement of the
connection at the ends of the pipe.

c) Designing the piping system to prevent its exerting excessive

forces and movements on equipment such as pumps and
tanks or on other connection and support points.

The stress engineer of a piping design department performs the

necessary calculations to ascertain that the various requirements due
to internal pressure, thermal expansion and external weight are
satisfied. Various computer packages are available in the market,
which perform the required rigorous analysis. These analyses are
basically static analyses. There are situations where stresses are
introduced into the piping systems due to dynamic loading situations
like reciprocating compressor vibration, safety valve discharge etc.
However it is the static analysis which most of the pipe stress
engineers perform and are acquainted with. Now the present day
computer packages that are being used (CEASAR-II, CAEPIPE, PIPEPLUS
etc.) are quite comprehensive and if the piping configuration and
pipe data are fed properly, comprehensive analysis are done through
the computer packages. This has improved pipe stress analysis job
productivity immensely. However sometimes this has led to a decline
in the knowledge about the basics of pipe stress analysis especially
in situation where the stress analysis engineer after acquiring some
sort of skill in the use of the analysis package does not make effort
to learn about the basics of pipe stress. Some of the ideas about the
basics of pipe stress have been enumerated herein.

2. General ideas on failure of materials:

Failures of material can occur by:

a) Brittle fracture

b) Excessive elastic deformation

c) Excessive non-elastic (plastic or viscous)


d) Thermal or mechanical fatigue.

2.1 Brittle Fracture:

Steel is generally considered to be a ductile material. However in

certain cases steels sometimes rupture without prior evidence of
distress. Such brittle failures are accompanied by but little plastic
deformation, and the energy required to propagate the fracture
appears to be quite low.

The three conditions, which control this tendency for steel to behave
in a brittle fashion, include

(1) high stress concentration; i.e. notches, nickes, scratches,

internal flows or sharp edges in geometry

(2) a high rate of straining and

(3) a low temperature.

The transition temperature for any steel is the temperature above,

which the steel behaves in a predominantly ductile manner and below
which it behaves in a predominantly brittle maner. Steel with high
transition temperature is more likely to behave in a brittle manner
during fabrication or in service. It follows that a steel with low
transition temperature is more likely to behave in a ductile manner
and therefore, steel with low transition temperature are generally
preferred for service involving severe stress concentrations, impact
loading, low temperature or combination of the three.

2.2 Elastic and non elastic deformation:

Elastic deformamations are deformations that disappear when the

stress is removed. Plastic deformation is non-reversible. When the
stress is removed plastic strain approximately remains unaltered. A
look at the stress strain diagram of say a carbon steel material will
clarify the concepts. However there is another kind of plastic
deformation called creep where the deformation increases with time at
constant stress. At certain temperature levels creep, which is the
term, used to describe this progressive deformation may occur in
metals even at stress below the short time yield strength or
proportional limit. Thus the yield strength or proportional limit,
which are determined by short time tensile tests do not represent
satisfactory criteria for the design of piping systems over the
entire temperature range CREEP RATE or CREEP LIMIT determination
through a large number of long time tensile test of elevated
temperature becomes necessary.

2.3 Thermal and mechanical fatigue:

Failure has occurred when the service become more severe than the
conditions for which the piping was originally designed. Thermal or
mechanical fatigue is usually the most common causes of failures in
high temperature piping systems. Severe localized mechanical stress
have caused or contributed to failures.

Thermal fatigue is caused by frequent change in operating

temperatures of pipeline. Thermal expansion and contraction occur in
all metal components by the change in temperature. Over a long period
this results in thermal fatigue. Hence for best metallurgical
conditions, the temperature of the high temperature piping systems
should be maintained continuously and uniformly as far as possible.

Mechanical fatigue is caused by pipe movement, vibration, restraints

preventing free movement or other conditions.

Continued to
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3.0 Allowable stress:

From stress strain diagram of a material like carbon steel we know
about yield strength as also ultimate tensile strength. For our
design purpose and allowable stress value is fixed which is based on
a certain factor of safety over the yield strength or ultimate
tensile strength. For higher temperature applications creep strength
also comes in picture. Various codes detail the allowable stress
basis. The basis adopted in ANSI B31.3 and IBR are described herein.
These two codes have the maximum usage among the Indian pipe stress
Engineers for Petrochemical/ Refinery.
3.1 Allowable stress as per ACSI:

As per Petroleum refinery piping code ANSI B31.3 the basic allowable
stress values are the min. of the following values.
a) 1/3 of the minimum tensile strength at room temp.
b) 1/3 of tensile strength of design temp.
c) 2/3 of Min. yield strength of room temp.
d) 2/3 of Min. yield strength at design temp.
e) 100% of average stress for creep rate of O/D 1% per 1000

3.2 Allowable Stress as per IBR:

As pe the Indian Boiler Regulations the allowable working stress is

calculated as shown below:

i) For temperatures at or below 454 Deg.C, the allowable stress

is the lower of the following values:

Et = 1.5 or R = 2.7

ii) For temperatures above 454 Deg.C the allowable stress is lower of


Et = 1.5 or Sr = 1.5

R = Min. tensile strength of the steel at room temp.
Et = Yield point (02% proof stress) at the temp.
Sr = Average stress to produce rupture in 100,000 hrs. at a temp.
and in
No case more than 1.33 times the lowest stress to produce rupture
at temp.
Sc = Average stress to produce an elongation of 1% creep in
100,000 hrs. All these values have been made available

after carrying on repeated laboratory tests on the specimen.

4.0 Allowable stress range:

The stress of a piping system lowers within the elasticity

range in which plastic flow does not occur by self-spring
during several initial cycles even if the calculation value
exceeds the yield point, and thereafter-steady respective
stress is applied. Hence repture in a piping system may be
due to low cycle fatigue. It is well known that fatigue
strength usually depends upon the mean stress and the stress
amplitude. The mean stress does not always become zero if
self spring takes place in piping system but in the ANSI
code, the value of the mean stress is disregarded while the
algebraic difference between the maximum and the minimum
stress namely only the stress range SA is employed as the
criterion of the strength against fatigue rupture.

The maximum stress range a system could be subjected to

without producing flow neither in the cold nor in the hot
condition was first proposed by ARC Mark as follows:

a) In cold condition the stress in the pipe material will

automatically limit itself to the yield strength or 8/5
of Sc because Sc is limited to 5/8th of Y.S. therefore, Ye
= 1.6 Sc.

b) At elevated temperatures at which creep is more likely

the stress in the pipe material shall itself to the
rupture strength i.e. 8/5th

Sh = 1.6 Sh.

Therefore stress range = 1.6f(Sc = Sh)

However, the code limits the stress range conservatively

as 1.25f(Sc + Sh) which includes all stresses i.e.
expansion stress, pressure stress, hot stresses and
any other stresses inducted by external loads such as
wind and earthquake, f is the stress range reduction
factor for cyclic conditions as given below:

To determine the stress range available for expansion

stress alone we subtract the stresses inducted by
pressure stress and weight stress which itself cannot
exceed sh.

Therefore the range for expansion stress only is

SA = f(1.25 Sc + 0.25 Sh)


Total number of full f factor

Temp. Cycles over expected life

7,000 and less 1

14,000 and less 0.9
22,000 and less 0.8
45,000 and less 0.7
100,000 and less 0.6
250,000 and less 0.5

5.0 Pressure & Bending Stress & Combination Application:

The code confines the stress examination to the most

significant stresses created by the diversity of loading
to which a piping system is subjected. They are:
i) Stress due to the thermal expansion of the line.
ii) The longitudinal stresses due to internal or external
iii) The bending stress created by the weight of the pipe
and its insulation, the internal fluid, fittings,
valves and external loading such as wind,
earthquake etc.

5.1 Stresses due to the thermal expansion of the line:

Temperature change in restrained piping cause bending

stresses in single plane systems, and bending and

torsional stresses in three-dimensional system. The

maximum stress due to thermal, changes solely is called
expansion stress SE. This stress must be within the
allowable stress range SA.

SE = Sb2 + 4St2

Sb = I (Mb / Z) = resulting bending stress

Mt = (Mt //2Z) = torsional stress

Mb = resulting bending movement


= torsional movement

Z = section modules of pipe

i = stress intensification factor

5.2 Longitudinal stress due to internal or external


The longitudinal stress due to internal/external pressure

shall be expressed as P (Ai / Am)
Where Ai is inside cross sectional area of pipe, Am is
the metal area, P is the pressure.

5.3 Weight Stress:

The stress induced, self weight of pipe, fluid, fittings

etc. as given by SW = M/Z, Where M is bending moment
created by the pipe and other fittings, Z is the section
modules of the pipe.

The stresses due to internal pressure and weight of the

piping are permanently sustained. They do not participate
in stress reductions due to relaxation and are excluded
from the comparison of which as the latter has been
adjusted to allow for them with the following provision.

6.0 Flexibility and stress intensification factor:

Some of the piping items (say pipe elbow) show different

flexibility than predicted by ordinary beam theory.
Flexibility factor of a fitting is actually the ratio of
rotation per unit length of the fitting in question under
certain value of moment to the rotation of a straight
pipe of same nominal diameter and schedule and under
identical value of moment. The pipefitting item, which
shows substantial flexibility, is a pipe elbow/bend.

One end is anchored and the other end is attached to a

rigid arm to which a force is applied. The outer fibers
of the bend/elbow will be under tension and the inner
fibers will be under compression. Due to shape of bend
both tension and compression will have component in the
same direction creating distortion/slottening of bend.
This leads to higher flexibility of the end as there is
some decrease in moment of inertia due to distortion from
circular to elliptical shape and also due to fact that

the outer layer fibers, which are under tension has to

elongate less and the inner layer fibers which are under
compression has to contract less to accommodate the same
angular rotation leading to higher flexibility. Piping
notches/discontinuities in the piping system, which acts
as stress raisers. For example a fabricated tee branch.
The concept of stress intensification comes from this and
is defined as the ratio of the bending moment producing
fatigue failure in a given number of cycles in straight
pipe of nominal dimensions to that producing failure in
the same number of cycles for the part under
consideration. Both flexibility factor and stress
intensification factors have been described in PROCESS
PIPING CODE(ASME B31.3) and is also included in the
various pipe stress analysis computer programmes.

7.0 Equipment nozzle loading:

As explained earlier pipe stresses are calculated for

various type of loading such as pressure, weight, thermal
etc. and it is reviewed whether the stresses are within
allowable limits. However in lot of cases pipe stress
analysis becomes critical and rather complicated because
it is not only stress of piping but the nozzle loading of
the various equipment which has to be kept within
allowable limits.

compressors centrifugal pumps,




various codes like NEMA SM-23, API-617, API-610 etc. give

guidelines regarding the allowable nozzle loading. For
the analysis of these piping connected with various
rotating equipment, vendor also provide information
regarding nozzle movements and allowable loads. It is the
responsibility of the equipment engineer to ensure that
the allowable loads as agreed by vendors are always equal

to or greater the values as per the respective applicable

code. Various computer packages now have equipment nozzle
check features. However the pipe stress engineers are
advised to study the specific applicable codes also as
this will give them a further insight for solving
specific problems related to equipment nozzle loading.