You are on page 1of 6

Pipe Simulation Using ANSYS A Quick

Posted on March 6, 2017 by Jiaping Zhang

1. introduction

Pipe exist everywhere. There are a wide range of applications involving pipes. For daily
life, pipes are used in the water line for our house, the air conditioner of the car we are
driving, and in the gas station where the gasoline and diesel are transported. Industry-
wise, a lot of pipes are used for processing, gas and liquid transmission, transmission as
well as extensively in power plants. power plants.

From a structural analysis point of view, a pipe is a slender structure with a tubular cross
section that could be very long along the length direction. A beam can also have tubular
structure, but most beams or columns are used for strength purposes. The dominant
function of the pipe is used for transporting fluids and gases. The liquid/gas transporting
could be hot, under high pressure, and also be viscous. We want to use a minimum pipe
thickness to save material while still satisfying the temperature and pressure

Engineers whose main focus is designing piping systems typically rely on specialized
analysis tools. Those niche tools have streamlined the process from creation of piping
system geometry to final output per industry code. They are efficient for everyday pipe
designers. However, for a structural design engineer who comes across piping structures
or the piping geometry is relatively simple. Those specialized tools could be overkill.
Also, there are observed limitations in those tools when it comes down to more detailed
or advanced analysis.

ANSYS Mechanical, known as a generic purpose finite element program, provides a set
of technologies and workflows that allows piping analysis to be an easy task. Some
capabilities(contacts, detailed modeling, hybrid model) goes beyond what a typical piping
software can do.

In this blog, I would like to give you a brief introduction into some technologies and
features we have for piping analysis. To start with, let me introduce you three elements:
namely pipe288, pipe289 and elbow290. Pipe288 is 3-D 2-node pipe, pipe289 is 2-D 3-
node pipe, elbow290 is 3D 3-node elbow. Purely by name, you can tell that elbow
elements are used for elbow (per piping terminology).

PIPE288 and PIPE289 can handle both thin-walled and thick-walled (even a solid
circular) cross-sections. With the thick-walled option, a full 3D stress state is adopted.

PIPE288 and PIPE289 accept only circular cross-sections. The cross-section will remain
circular during deformation (i.e., only uniform radial expansion is allowed). Therefore,
PIPE288 and PIPE289 should only be used for straight pipe segments.

On the other hand, ELBOW290 allows for initially non-circular sections and accounts for
general section deformation, including ovalization, warping, and non-uniform radial
expansion. With these advanced capabilities, ELBOW290 is suitable for pipe bends and
straight pipe segments that may undergo large section deformation (e.g., collapse of the

Pipe288/289 elements can account for added mass (internal fluid mass), hydrodynamic
added mass(external fluid), wave loading and buoyant effects. Pipe to surface contact
(like pipe-lay on seabed) and pipe-to-pipe contact (like PIP) can also be addressed.

Now lets go through some of the basic features related to pipe analysis in ANSYS
Mechanical. Please be aware that ANSYS Workbench Mechanical only exposes a
subset of the features of the pipe capabilities, but you can always insert commands
snippets or use MAPDL to explore full capabilities.

2. Geometry:

Starting with geometry, you need a line body(ANSYS terminology) for pipe and assign
tubular cross sections. If you build a geometry in ANSYS pre-processing tools like
ANSYS SpaceClaim or DesignModeler, that is pretty straightforward. If your geometry
has been pre-built in other tools, then you can bring them in ANSYS SpaceClaim. If it
comes in as just lines then you can simply create some cross sections and assign to
them. If it comes in as volumes, you can take advantage of Beam Extraction tool to
automatically convert a volume to a line plus cross section. Once you load the geometry
in ANSYS Mechanical specify Model Type=Pipe.
3. Meshing and Material:

Meshing and material specification is no different than if you are working on solid-based
structures. You can also assign tabular temperature dependent properties (like stiffness).

4. Loading and Constraint:

Internal and external pressure, Temperature. Line Pressure can be used to apply
external loading (like overburden load).
What does Pipe Idealization do? It is used to convert selected pipe elements to elbow
elements, this is especially important for curved pipes. Since Pipe Idealization is using
elbow290 element, which is a quadratic element at the solver level, please be sure to
keep mid-side nodes when you are meshing.

5. Post-processing:

For common items like axial force, bending moment or shear force, these can be
accessed through Beam Results. Additional output like hoop stress, internal/external
pressure can be accessed using Solution-> Worksheet-> Create user defined result.
You can use these results and do some result combinations, and compare with a pipe
hand calculation spreadsheet. But we have something easy set up for you.

For those who are involved in gas transmission and distribution pipe systems, you will
know ASME B31.8 well. For others, it is basically a requirement on how to process
calculated stresses and compare that with code specified allowable. We have an ANSYS
ACT APP for that! Please go to ANSYS App store and download an extension called
ASME Pipe Check. It can save you some time. Heres a snapshot.
Lastly, I want to highlight a unique point about ANSYS pipe simulation. I call it Hybrid
Model. You can have combination of line, surface and volume structures in one
system. In this way, you can study a bulk structures with some piping components, and
interactions between pipe and other components. I am including a few snapshots using
hybrid model here.