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Shivangi Ruparel, Asst.Prof, K.J.Somaiya College of Engineering, Vidyavihar, Mumbai400077,
Sangita bansode, Asso.Prof, K.J.Somaiya College of Engineering, Vidyavihar, Mumbai400077,
Paresh Tulankar, Engineer, Toyo Engineering India Limited, Mumbai, India
One of the primary reasons leading to failure of the delayed coke drum is the severe temperature gradient due to
cyclic temperature variation. Based on the two dimensional heat conduction theories, an analytical solution of
the transient temperature stresses in the coke drum is obtained, which is then compared with Finite element
analysis done using Ansys Software. Various working temperature conditions are discussed. Numerical results
show that the present theoretical model can describe basic features of the transient temperature field in the coke
drum. A transient thermal-stress analysis is developed which gives temperature distribution and stress
parameters for given values of boundary temperatures.

Bi Biot number
Cp Specific heat [J/Kg-K]
Modulus of elasticity [N/mm2]
Fourier number
Diameter ratio = ro/rl

coefficient of thermal expansion [/C]

Thermal diffusivity [m/s]

Poisson's ratio [-]

density of cylinder material [kg/ m3]

A delayed coke drum is an important pressure vessel used in the delayed coking process by
petroleum industry. It can bring great economic benefit by turning faulty oil into costly
gasoline and middle fractional oil. The coke drum is a typical fabricated vessel with plates
welded circumferentially. Due to the delayed coking process, coke drum experiences cyclic
temperature variation, from room temperature to 490 in 16 to 48 hours, with the medium
inside it varying from gas to fluid and solid. After some years of operation in this severe
thermal and pressure cycling, the coke drum is subjected to the degradation in the form of
shell bulging and cracking in the shell, weld seams and skirt. The American Petroleum
Institute (API) conducted industry-wide coke drum surveys in 1968, 1980 and 1996, which
provided large amount of statistical data for the coke drum problem. A survey conducted by
API concluded that the operating parameters have far more significant roles in the longevity
of coke drums than their materials of construction, or other design parameters. Studies by
Thomas (1981) Bagdasarian et al (2000) based on the statistical data show that the reasons
leading to bulging and cracking in coke drums are multifactor, and the most important one is
the severe temperature gradient in the wall of the coke drum which induces high thermal

In modern industry, the heat conduction problem in pipes and pressure vessels subjected to
variation in thermal conditions can be described as the transient temperature field in thick
hollow cylinders. The shell of the coke drum can be simplified as a cylinder for the analysis
purpose as suggested by Zihui Xia, Feng Ju(2010). Vollbrecht(1974) has analysed the stresses in
both cylindrical and spherical walls subjected to internal pressure and stationary heat flow.
Kandil (1975) has studied the effect of steady-state temperature and pressure gradient on
compound cylinders fitted together by shrink fit. The finite element method has been used by
Sinha (1978) to analyse the thermal stresses and temperature distribution in a hollow thick
cylinder subjected to a steady-state heat load in the radial direction. Naga (1986) has
presented the stress analysis and the optimization of both thick-walled impermeable and
permeable cylinders under the combined effect of steady-state temperature and pressure
Although a lot of studies were conducted on transient temperature field of infinite cylinders
under constant thermal boundary conditions, only few studies involved dynamic thermal
boundary conditions. McNeill and Brock (1971) presented a simple analytical solution for a
straight pipe subjected to a linear thermal shock using discrete technique, and Marie (2004)
proposed an extension of this solution for any variation of the fluid temperature. Kandil
(1995) solved the radial temperature distribution within a cylinder under dynamic internal
temperature gradient based on the finite difference technique. Shanani and Nabavi (2007)
considered the thermal problem of an infinite cylinder subjected to time-dependent thermal
boundary condition using finite Hankel transform.
To deal with the problem of the coke drum, it is necessary to understand the character of
temperature field in the drum wall. Due to severe thermal operational conditions, it is nearly
impossible to get the exact temperature distribution by field surveys. At present, the
temperature in the drum wall is obtained by calculating it from the measured temperature of
the outer surface, or by FEM simulation. Most of the studies in the literature on coke drums
were based on field surveys and FEM analysis as concluded by Zhi-hua and LIU (2010). The
main aim of this paper is to study the transient variation of thermal stresses within thick
cylinders subjected to different operating conditions. The temperature distribution within the
cylinder wall is determined using numerical methods.
Following are the assumptions taken into consideration during the analysis:
(i) The ends of the cylinders are assumed to be unrestrained.
(ii) The longitudinal strain developed as a result of the stress is uniform and constant, i.e.
plane strain with = 0.
(iii) The temperature of the cylinder is considered to vary only in the radial direction and is
time-dependent, i.e. T = T(r, t).
(iv) There is no source of heat generation within the cylinder thickness.
(v) The outside surface of the cylinder is exposed to ambient conditions which are large
enough so that its temperature can be assumed to remain constant. Therefore, the mean value
of the convective heat transfer coefficient is used in the calculations.
(vi)The thermal conductivity of the cylinder material, the coefficient of linear expansion,
modulus of elasticity and Poisson's ratio are assumed to be independent of temperature.

Temperature distribution
The differential equation of time-dependent heat flow in the radial direction is given
according to Kandil (1995) in polar coordinates as


This equation can be solved numerically on the basis of the forward finite difference
technique. The cylinder is discretized into a cylindrical mesh using an equidistant sized grid.
The transient finite difference equation at any node of interest is derived by making an energy
balance on the volume of material associated with each node. A set of algebraic equations for
temperature is obtained for a number of nodal points through the thickness of the cylinder.
The temperature at an interior node (m), as shown in Figure. l(a), after a time interval t is
given by the equation:
= 0


1 +

, +1

+1 + 1 20


For the non-interior node (n) (at the outside surface) as shown in Figure. 1 (b), the equation
of temperature is given by
= 20


1 + 0 + 1 20



Figure. 1. Thick cylinder model: (a) interior node, (b) non-interior node.
Then, the temperature distribution is obtained by solving these equations at specified time
intervals t. It is worth mentioning that for small values of radial interval (r) and of Fourier
number (Fo) the mesh density increases and therefore the calculation time increases.
However, the calculation accuracy also increases. Taking advantages of computer facilities in
the calculations, r is chosen to be small enough so that its effect on the accuracy of the
resulting temperature is negligible. The relevant time interval (t) should be determined to
verify the stability of Equations (2) and (3):

where the following condition is satisfied,
0.5 > 0 <

0 2




There are four different kinds of working conditions possible for the temperature at the
boundary of the inside surface of the cylinder. These are as follows:
(i) The temperature of the inside surface is suddenly changed from to and remains
constant during the operating time, i.e.
, =


(ii) The temperature of the inside surface is linearly increased within a so-called heating time
( ) up to the operating temperature and then remains constant over the operating time.
, = +

, =



(iii) The temperature of the inside surface during the operating time is oscillating according
to the harmonic function, i.e.
, = + sin 2


(iv) The temperature of the inside surface takes an arbitrary periodic form over the operating
time, i.e.
, = +


sin 2


where j is the number of harmonics per periodic wave.

The solution of this problem is given by the following equation
= +

( )



where T(r) is the temperature at radius r, and are the inner and outer radii, with as the
inside wall temperature.

Figure 2: Transient surface temperature

Distribution in circumferential direction

Figure 3: Transient radial stress distribution

in the radial direction for = -/2 , /2

Thermal Stress distribution

In order to calculate the thermal stress distribution in a thick-walled cylinder under the
assumptions made above, the following equilibrium equation is considered:



The total strain is made up of two strains. The first one is dependent on the induced stresses
and the other one is due to free thermal expansion. Thus, the relation between thermal
stresses and strains follows the thermo elasticity formulae given below:

+ =

+ =

= +

= +

= +

+ = 0


where T is the temperature rise at radius r above the initial value.

From Equations (12) and (13), then

+ = 0


Substituting (12) and (13) into Eqn (15) and using Eqn (11), yields

3 = 1


Solving Equation (16) with the boundary condition at the inside and outside surfaces, (r =
and r = ), gives:

= 1 2

2 +2

2 2

. +

. . 2


2 +2

2 2

= 1 2

= 1

2 2


For solving above equations temperature distribution is obtained by solving it numerically

using Simpsons trapezoidal rule. Thus,

. =

. =

, .

, .



A long thick-walled cylinder, initially at a uniform temperature To, has its outer radius
temperature raised at a constant rate to temperature Tf. After a steady state of heat flow has
been reached, the tangential stress at the inner and outer surfaces can be determined and
outer-to-inner surface temperature difference and the tangential stress as a function of time
can be found. The thermal steady state condition is satisfied when the inner and outer wall
temperature difference is constant. A transient thermal-stress analysis is required with a
sufficient time period to allow the steady-state condition to be obtained.

Figure 4: Cylinder model for transient stress analysis

Analysis assumptions
(i) Due to symmetry, only a wedge of arbitrary height is required for modelling. A 5 wedge
is selected to minimize curved geometry effects when using a lower order element.
(ii) For a ramped load condition, the constant temperature rise per second is assumed.
(iii) Since the structural dynamic effects are not of concern, inertial and damping structural
effects are ignored, by specifying time integration for the temperature degree of freedom
A sufficient number of elements are modelled through the thickness such that an accurate
thermal transient and nodal stress results are obtained. Symmetric structural boundary

conditions are used at the radial and bottom planes. Since the cylinder being modelled is
long, nodes are coupled to enforce a constant axial strain condition.
Table 1: Material, Geometry and Load data for analysis
Material Properties
E = 30 x 106 N/ m2
= 0.3
= 15.12 x 10-6 /K
= 7861.09 kg/m3
c = 418.6 J/kg-K

Geometric Properties
a = 9500 mm
b = 9545 mm
h = 42900 mm

Tf = 370 C
To = 38C


A complete evaluation of temperature and stress distributions, in a non-steady state, has been
obtained by solving the above mathematical model numerically. In this model, the
temperature at the boundary of the inside surface of the cylinder is assumed to change
according to the working conditions given by Equations (6-9).
In all the considered boundary conditions, the temperature at different radii of the cylinder
increases with time and approaching the value (or the mean value in the case of oscillation) of
the inner surface temperature. Then the temperature at each radius reaches the steady-state
value after a transient time.

Figure 5: Transient temperature Plot

Figure 6: Transient Stress plot

A theoretical study of thermal stress analysis has been carried out for thick-walled cylinders
subjected to a transient temperature gradient with different operating conditions. The analysis
reveals that the maximum effective stress always occurs at the inside surface of the cylinder,
and its peak value takes place at the start of the operating temperature.
In order to reduce the effective stress in the coke drum, the inner surface should be heated
gradually up to the operating temperature. The transient time after which the temperature of

the drum reaches the steady-state condition is proved to depend on both the diameter ratio
and the heating time. The solution is in a close form, and can be easily applied to discuss the
effects of the parameters of the coke drum on the transient temperature distribution.
The authors are grateful to Mr.Mangesh Shirpurkar, Joint Manager, Heat Transfer & Applied
Technology department, Toyo Engineering India Limited for his encouragement and help in
the preparation of this paper. Technical assistance for analyzing temperature distribution in
coke drum was provided by TOYO Engineering India Limited.
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