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Limit Loads for Pipe Elbows

M. A. Shalaby
With Internal Pressure
ECG Engineering Consultants Group,
Piping Department,
Cairo, Egypt
Under In-Plane Closing
Bending Moments
M. Y. A. Younan
The American University in Cairo, The purpose of this study is to determine limit loads for pipe elbows subjected to in-
Engineering Department, plane bending moments that tend to close the elbow (i.e., decrease its radius of
P.O. Box 2511, curvature), and the influence of internal pressure on the value of the limit load.
Cairo, Egypt 11511 Load-deflection curves were obtained, and from these curves plastic collapse or
E-mail: instability loads at various values of internal pressure were determined. This was
done for different pipe bend factors (h = Rt/r 2 ) using the nonlinear finite element
analysis code (ABAQUS) with its special elbow element. The limit load was found
to increase and then decrease with increasing pressure for all the elbow geometries

Introduction exist in the pipe elbows change the values of limit loads and
affect their collapse behavior. Therefore, it is very important to
Smooth pipe bends or pipe elbows are commonly regarded determine conservative values of limit loads for pipe elbows
as critical components in a piping system. They are incorporated with internal pressure under various loading conditions.
into piping systems to allow modification of the isometric rout-
The pipe bend problem has been analyzed by several ap-
ing, but more importantly pipe elbows are usually incorporated
proaches either elastic or inelastic using small and large defor-
to reduce anchor reactions. Due to their increased flexibility in
comparison to straight pipes, they allow a reduction of the reac- mation solutions with both theoretical and numerical tech-
tion forces and moments within the system as a whole by virtue niques, in addition to experimental investigations. In the follow-
of their elastic deformations. Hence, they are forced to accom- ing, the inelastic analysis of pipe elbows will be discussed
modate disproportionate displacements arising from differential through the available work in the literature.
movements. Under complex stressing of this kind, severe load- Marcal (1967) presented the first results for elastic-plastic
ing may be set up within the elbow and this may lead to strain behavior of pipe bends with in-plane bending. His collapse
concentrations and major cross-sectional deformation. moment to moment of first yield ratios ranged from about 2 for
bends of short radius to a value of about 1.55 for bends of
Due to their specific deformational behavior when exposed
beyond the elastic limit, pipe elbows are capable of plasticizing larger radius. Spence and Findlay (1973) found approximate
over large areas when a system is overstressed. Thus, they bounds on limit moments for in-plane bending by utilizing pre-
absorb considerably large thermal expansions and seismic viously existing analyses in conjunction with the limit theorems
movements in addition to cushioning transiently loaded systems of perfect plasticity. They pointed out that a bend has a signifi-
by energy dissipation as a result of plastic material flow. How- cantly lower collapse load than a straight pipe, and this load
ever, care must be taken to ensure that the collapse load is increases with increasing pipe bend factor (h). Calladine
avoided. Therefore, it is very important to determine the safety (1974) tried to find the value of pure bending moment at which
margin between incipient local yield and the load at which the full plastic bending of the bend occurs according to classical
pipe bend collapses. limit analysis. He sought a lower bound to the limit value of
If an adequate limitation of plastic deformation cannot be the moment by using a classical elastic shell analysis in conjunc-
assured, then the pipe elbow or the piping system may fail tion with the lower-bound theorem of plasticity. Goodall
sooner or later depending on the type of load imposed, because (1978a) presented the first large displacement analysis to obtain
of the decreasing resistance of the components to further plastic limit loads of thin pipe elbows under in-plane bending moments.
deformation. Several cases of damage which have occurred in His analysis was based on the lower-bound theorem of plastic-
the region of pipe elbows in various piping systems have ity, and the process of elbow buckling under in-plane closing
prompted the initiation of various investigations with regard to bending moment was examined by solving the large deforma-
deformation and failure behavior of pipe elbows. Plastic limit tion problem for a simplified yield surface. The maximum load-
analysis concepts are used for establishing allowable loads. carrying capacity obtained from his analysis was about 10 per-
They provide estimates of plastic collapse loads, i.e., loads cent lower than the limit load obtained from small displacement
above which large increases in deformation occur with small analysis. Goodall (1978b) also obtained the first lower-bound
increases in load. The low value of the limit load for pipe solution for the limit load of thin elbows under the combined
elbows relative to that of straight pipes should be sufficient effects of in-plane bending and internal pressure using small
warning not to neglect elbows when considering the design of displacement analysis. Kitching et al. (1979) presented a lower-
piping systems. The high values of internal pressure that may bound analysis, but without making restrictions on the geome-
try, so any value of radius ratio (R/r) and (h) could be used.
They showed that the limit moment is dependent upon (R/r)
Contributed by the Pressure Vessels and Piping Division and presented at the as well as on (h). Rodabaugh (1979) gave a lower-bound limit
Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference, Orlando, Florida, July 27-31, 1997, of pressure and showed that for an elbow with R/r = 3 the limit
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS . Manuscript received by the pressure is 0.8 times the limit pressure of a straight pipe. He
PVP Division, March 18, 1997; revised manuscript received August 1, 1997.
Associate Technical Editor: M. B. Ruggles.
noted that the pressure did not reduce the limit moment; indeed,

Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology Copyright © 1998 by ASME FEBRUARY 1998, Vol. 1 2 0 / 3 5

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it increased the limit moment by an average of 8 percent. experimental limit moment. They also showed that internal pres-
Brashel et al. (1983) conducted a large displacement analysis sure stiffens the elbow and opposes ovalization of the cross
of the load-bearing capacity of pipe bends. They stated that section, thus increasing the experimental limit moment by a
the limit load is reached when a kinematic chain is formed value of 55 percent for closing tests. The angular deflection was
circumferentially as a result of plastic joints, but it is almost shown to vary with internal pressure as the experimental limit
impossible to obtain the exact solution by analysis. Chain et al. moment does.
(1984) presented an approximate limit-load analysis for pipe The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of inter-
bends with end constraints under in-plane and out-of-plane load- nal pressure on the behavior of pipe elbows subjected to in-
ing. They extended a previous simplified steady-state creep plane closing bending moment loads, and the influence of this
analysis for pipe bends with end constraints using the same internal pressure on the value of the limit load. Therefore, it is
approach suggested by Spence and Findlay (1973). They required to determine plastic collapse or instability loads at
showed that the limit load of pipe elbow depends on several various values of internal pressure for different pipe elbow ge-
parameters, which are pipe bend factor (h), radius ratio (R/r), ometries.
bend angle (a), and the type of end constraints. The presence
of end constraints will stiffen the elbow and increase the limit
load. Analysis
Sobel and Newman (1977) carried out some investigations The finite element method was used to conduct the investiga-
into the instability of elbows in the plastic range using the finite tion. ABAQUS, which is a general nonlinear finite element
element method and special pipe bend element. They showed analysis package, was used with its special elbow element that
that geometric nonlinear effects are significant. If such effects takes the ovalization deformation into consideration, but as-
are included in the analysis, buckling into a circumferential sumes constant deformation along the element length. In order
ovalization mode occurs at a maximum point in the load-deflec- to study internal pressure effects and determine plastic collapse
tion curve and a definite buckling load can be established in or plastic instability loads, both geometric and material nonlin-
the case of closing moment. Dhalla (1980) presented a nonlin- earities were included in the analysis.
ear finite element analysis using doubly curved shell elements, From the finite element solution, a load-deflection curve was
and studied the effects of both load step and mesh refinements. obtained for each case with certain bend factor (h) and internal
He showed that both geometric and material nonlinearities inter- pressure value. From these curves it was possible to generate
act to cause collapse of an elbow, and that the geometric nonlin- limit curves which show the variation of instability and collapse
ear effects become significant at load levels above 80 percent loads with internal pressure for each value of bend factor (h).
of the buckling load. Sobel and Newman (1980) compared the Finite Element Model Using ABAQUS
results of a simplified finite element analysis using special pipe
bend element with experimental results. They showed that the Geometry. The pipe elbow used in this study is a 90-deg
analysis overestimates the deformations especially at high loads, 16-in. nominal diameter long radius elbow; i.e., its radius ratio
and it underestimates the experimental limit load by about 10 (R/r = 3), with different wall thickness (pipe schedules). Ten
percent as it does not account for end constraints. Sobel and values of wall thickness (f) were used which ranged from 0.165
Newman (1986) compared the results of simplified and detailed to 1.031 in., representing pipe schedules from Schedules, 5S to
finite element analysis with experimental results. Special pipe Sch. 100, and giving values of pipe bend factor (h = Rtlr1)
bend elements were used in the simplified analysis, whereas between 0.0632 and 0.4417, with Dlt ratios between 96.97 and
doubly curved shell elements were used in the detailed analysis. 15.52. Since it was required to study the behavior of pipe elbows
They showed that the simplified method of analysis is consid- alone without the effect of different types of end constraints,
ered a viable tool for the prediction of elastic-plastic behavior and to concentrate on the elbow's central section, only a 90-
as it is conservative and economical. Dhalla (1987) compared deg unconnected (stand alone) elbow model was used. The
the results of a detailed finite element analysis using doubly elbow configuration is shown in Fig. 1.
curved shell elements with experimental results, and showed
that they were in excellent agreement up to 60 percent of the Material. The material was assumed to be isotropic and
measured buckling load. The experimental analytical correlation elastic-plastic, following the measured response of type 304
was considered reasonable up to 80 percent of the buckling stainless steel at room temperature, as reported by Sobel and
load, and at higher loads the analysis predicted an increasingly Newman (1980); but for this study, in order to isolate the
stiffer response, and overpredicted the collapse load by 15 per- different parameters that affect the collapse behavior and to
cent. focus on the effect of internal pressure on that behavior, it was
required to neglect the effect of strain hardening of the material
Bolt and Greenstreet (1972) presented an experimental inves- and to assume that the material is elastic-perfectly plastic. From
tigation into plastic collapse of pipe elbows, and showed that a design point-of-view, this is a conservative approach, since it
the load-deflection curves provide acceptable indicators of the is expected that strain hardening would increase the value of
behavior of pipe elbows. They stated that internal pressure gen- limit loads. Also, it was found (Kussmaul et al., 1987) that
erally increases the collapse moment, although the load at the collapse under in-plane closing bending moment (which is the
onset of nonlinear response is decreased. Brouard et al. (1981) critical case) occurs with strain values of about 2 percent at
conducted some tests on pipe bends and showed that the col- which strain hardening of stainless steel is not very significant.
lapse moments of elbows depend also on both the end effects
and angle of the bend. Hilsenkopf et al. (1988) performed tests The material properties were:
on both thin and thick elbows subjected to in-plane and out-of- Young's modulus = 28 X 106 lb/in 2 (193 GPa)
plane bending moments. They showed that the in-plane closing Yield stress = 39440 lb/in 2 (271.93 MPa)
bending case is the most critical loading mode with the lowest Poisson's ratio = 0.2642

D = diameter of pipe or bend P = internal pressure ; = wall thickness
E = Young's modulus R - radius of curvature a = subtended angle of bend
M = bending moment h = pipe bend factor v = Poisson's ratio
ML = limit moment r — mean radius (jy = yield stress

36 / Vol. 120, FEBRUARY 1998 Transactions of the ASME

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t = 0 . 1 6 5 - 1 . 0 3 1 in
Fig. 1 Elbow model configuration

Model and Elements. The model used in this study was the prescribed loading. In this model, six Fourier modes with
based on the assumption of uniform bending, which means that 20 integration points around the pipe cross section were used.
the applied load is a pure bending moment and that all cross In addition, seven integration points were used through the pipe
sections deform in the same way (i.e., the effect of end con- wall. These are sufficient for the range of elbow geometries
straints is neglected). Therefore, the model was chosen as an used.
unconnected elbow subjected to combined loading of in-plane
pure bending moment and internal pressure. Loading. The load on the pipe bend has two components:
The one-dimensional cross-sectional deformation pattern ex- a "dead" load consisting of internal pressure (with closed end
pected allows very simple modeling to be adopted. Element condition), and a "live" load of pure in-plane bending moment
type ELBOW31B is a special pipe bend element with uniformly applied to the free end of the model.
deforming cross section. This element is based on an analysis The pressure is applied to the model in an initial step, and
which assumes that axial variations of both the ovalization of then held constant in the second analysis step while the bending
the cross section and the bending moment (M) are constant moment is being increased. The pressure values range from 0.0
over the axial length of the element, with the amount of ovaliza- psi to the maximum pressure that causes gross plastic deforma-
tion being dependent on the magnitude of (M), so it is ideal tion or collapse for the specific elbow geometry used in each
for this case of unconnected elbow. case. The equivalent end force, caused by the closed end condi-
tion, is applied as a follower force because it rotates with the
It is known that the elbow cross section ovalization varies in
motion of the end plane. The closed end condition was chosen
the axial direction due to the stiffening effects afforded by the
for the analysis in order to include the axial component of the
adjacent flanges or straight pipes of the elbow structure, How-
stresses caused by the internal pressure.
ever, for elbows with radius-to-thickness ratios (r/t) in the
range of 20 to 50, with reasonable angle extent (90 deg), and The elbow was subjected to in-plane pure bending moments,
with lengths of straight pipes that are typical of those normally and the loading was extended far enough in the plastic regime
encountered in practice, it seems reasonable to expect the axial in order to reach plastic collapse or instability. This large dis-
variation of the ovalization to be rather gradual and that buck- placement analysis is rotation-controlled, i.e., increments of ro-
ling will be initiated at the central section of the elbow where tation are prescribed at the free end rather than increments of
the stresses are the highest (Sobel and Newman, 1977). The moment, since it is anticipated that the collapse will be unstable.
present analysis concentrates on the behavior of this section. In these cases, displacement or rotation control can provide a
Hence, the use of special elbow element with constant ovaliza- solution even when the conjugate load (the reaction force or
tion is appropriate for such an analysis in addition to being moment) decreases as the displacement or rotation.increases.
economical. For this model, the rotation is applied to produce in-plane bend-
ing that tends to close the elbow (increase its curvature).
Moreover, this model is considered a conservative one, be-
cause end constraints increase the stiffness of the connected Verification of Model. This model was verified by compar-
elbow, and consequently increase its limit load. Furthermore, ing the same model, but with strain-hardening material with
the approximation involved in neglecting end effects is a logical that of unit length element model and shell elements model
one and agrees with what has been reported in the literature used in example 4.2.1 of ABAQUS Example Problems Manual
that internal pressure reduces the effect of end constraints. The (1995). The shell elements model is convergent with respect to
reason for this is that pressure causes the primary stresses to discretization, as the mesh convergence tests demonstrated that
be dominant; hence, the axial gradients of total (primary plus the meshes were convergent to overall response of the system.
secondary or bending) stress become small and the variation Therefore, the shell elements solution is considered exact solu-
of stress between the pipe bends and the straight pipe runs is tion, and is useful for comparison with ELBOW31B element
reduced (Hibbitt and Leung, 1985). For the case of 90-deg solution for its validation. The twelve ELBOW31B elements
bend, connected flanges only marginally reduce stresses and model predicted the same response of both the shell elements
bend deflections compared to those for an unconnected bend model and the unit length ELBOW31B element model. This
(Whatham and Thompson, 1979). Therefore, in this case where increases the confidence in the model used in this study.
high values of internal pressure are used, the approximation
appears to be quite good. Definition of Limit Loads Adopted in This Work. In this
A single element could suffice under pure bending moment, work, the term "limit load" is used as a collective term for
but the existence of internal pressure may be inconsistent with both "instability load" and "collapse load." The instability
the pure bending assumption (Boyle and Spence, 1977). Also, load is considered the maximum load in the load-deflection
the end force associated with the closed end condition makes plot where the curve approaches a horizontal asymptote. The
it better to use more than one constant bending elbow element collapse load is obtained by applying the "angle method" in
for the model. which the angle that the linear part of the load-deflection curve
The finite element model used to represent the 90-deg elbow makes with the vertical axis is measured, and a line making
consists of 12 elements of type ELBOW31B with 13 nodes double this angle with the vertical axis is drawn to intersect the
along the elbow length. The node at the fixed end is restrained load-deflection curve. The load at the intersection point is called
in all degrees of freedom; the other end node is free, except for the collapse load.

Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology FEBRUARY 1998, Vol. 1 2 0 / 3 7

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Table 1 Elbow geometric parameters and loading cases / Pr V'3
ML = 1.04ft2'3 1 (D2tay) (4)
Model Outside Radius Pipe Wall Thickness Bend Internal Pressure V 2oyt)
No. Diameter Ratio Schedule Thickness Ratio Factor Load Cases

D (In.) R/r t (In.) D/t h No. Values (call

1 16 3 58 0.165 96.97 0.0632 9 0-800 which shows that internal pressure reduces the value of the
2 16 3 10S 0.188 85.11 0.0722 11 0-1000 limit load since the stiffening effect of internal pressure is not
3 16 3 10 0250 64.00 0.0967 13 0-1200
4 16 3 20 0.312 51.28 0.1217 16 0-1600
considered in this small displacement approximate solution.
S 16 3 30(Std) 0.375 42.67 0.1475 20 0-1900
Loading Cases. Each elbow with certain (h) and internal
e 16 3
- 0.41 39.02 0.1615 23 0-2200
7 16 3 40 (X8) 0500 32.00 0.1996 27 0-2600 pressure value was subjected to in-plane bending moment,
S 16 3 60 0.656 24.39 0.2675 35 0-3400 which was applied to close the elbow. The bending loading in
9 16 3 80 0.844 18.96 0.3527 46 0-4400 each case was increased and extended far enough in the plastic
10 16 3 100 1.031 15.52 0.4417 55 0-5400
regime until plastic instability (or buckling) could be reached.
This was indicated by the inability of the finite element compu-
tations to converge for a reasonably small load step. The varia-
Theoretical Models. There has been considerable contro- tion of parameters and loading cases is shown in Table 1.
versy concerning the term limit load, how it should be calculated Since both geometric and material nonlinearities were in-
or measured, and how it should be used in the design of piping cluded in the analysis, the study could address the problem of
components. Analytical developments were based on idealized combined material and geometric collapse or instability.
concepts of limit analysis. According to these concepts, the
theoretical limit load is the maximum load obtained from an Results and Discussion
analytical model of the structure. All theoretical limit loads for
pipe bends are based on the theorems of limit analyses. Lower- Load-Deflection Curves. From the results of the finite ele-
bound solutions and upper-bound solutions were developed to ment analysis, load-deformation plots were obtained for each
bracket the theoretical limit load because bounding solutions case with certain bend factor (h = Rtlr1) and internal pressure
are easier to' obtain than exact solutions. value under in-plane closing moment. In each plot, the external
Approximate bounds on limit moments for in-plane bending moment expressed in pound-inches (lb-in.) was plotted against
were found (Spence and Findlay, 1973) by utilizing previously the free end rotations expressed in radians (rad). The plastic
existing analyses in conjunction with the limit theorems of per- collapse and plastic instability loads were determined from each
fect plasticity. Results were presented in nondimensional form plot. Plastic collapse load was determined using the angle
covering most practical pipe bend geometries and providing method discussed previously, whereas the plastic instability was
useful design information. considered the maximum moment that could be attained (where
the curve tends to approach a horizontal asymptote).
Generally, the results of their study can be reasonably well
expressed as Figure 2 shows the moment-rotation curve for the case of
elbow with bend factor (h) = 0.1615 and zero internal pressure
ML = 0.8 h06(D2t<Ty); for h < 1.45 under in-plane closing bending moment. It is clear from this
figure that the moment finally approaches a horizontal asymp-
= (DV,); for h a 1.45 (1) tote, and the plastic instability load in this case is 1.013 X 106
lb-in. (KM AX in the plot). The plastic collapse load determined
Calladine (1974 ), in his study to find the value of pure bend- by the angle method has nearly the same value of plastic insta-
ing moment at which full plastic bending of the bend occurs bility in this case.
according to classical limit analysis, obtained this relation
The moment-rotation relation for the same model, but with
ML = \A9-Khwrhoy, for h < 0.5 (2) internal pressure of 500 psi, is shown in Fig. 3. It can be seen
that the curve approaches a horizontal asymptote at a much
The large displacement effect was not considered in the previ- higher moment and deformation than in the case without pres-
ous analyses. Moreover, the effect of internal pressure which sure. In this case, the plastic instability moment was 1.68 X
has a significant effect on the limit load was not considered. 106 lb-in., whereas the plastic collapse load was 1.345 X 10 6 .
Only ideal plastic material behavior was used. Therefore, it It is clear from this figure that the internal pressure increased
should be noted that limit theorems used in calculating theoreti- both plastic instability and collapse moments. Also, the maxi-
cal limit loads, while of great practical use, are of necessity mum deformation attained (XMAX) was 0.3169 rad instead of
restricted in the information they provide. 0.06519 rad in the case without pressure.
The only large displacement analysis is that of Goodall
(1978a), who obtained an approximate solution for the case of
elbow instability under in-plane closing bending moment. The InslaWily

maximum load-carrying capacity of the elbow with (h < 0.5) CoBntise ~ x Ul ' ' i i i • ^ _ | « n •

is given by (X106) i j J^"\ \

I n—K ooo pit I : : / i : / ;
1 04h213 1 o.e ', •'/• <• .\,..y...;.
ML = ^j{Dhay) (3)
1 o.e ;.../...; :.../....\ j.
. J ; i (3ft)a'3\/4V3(l-i/2)*, A
o.i....l....y. : i ;. ; ;....

XHIM i.oooc~o4 / / ! : : : : :
The only analytical solution that treats the problem of com- XHAX (.S19E-03 IS \ J ; ;
YHIM 4-407E.03 0.0*- ' ' 1 1 1 1 1
bined in-plane bending and internal pressure loading is the small VHAX l.olJE.Oi 0.00 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06
End R o t a t i o n I tad I
displacement analysis of Goodall (1978b), which accounts for
the effect of internal pressure on the value of the limit moment Fig. 2 Moment-end rotation for an elbow with h = 0.1615, no internal
of elbows with (h < 0.5) as follows: pressure

38 / Vol. 120, FEBRUARY 1998 Transactions of the ASME

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• h»0.4417 6.0E*6
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Internal Pressure (psi)

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End R o t a t i o n I r i d )

Fig. 3 Moment-end rotation for an elbow with h = 0.1615,500 psi inter-

nal pressure collapse and instability of the elbow result from the flattening
deformation or ovalization of the elbow cross section under
bending loads. This ovalization progressively reduces the cross
section stiffness with further bending until collapse or instability
Ixio 6
occurs. The existence of the internal pressure works against
t . |
000 p « l
this; it counteracts the elbow cross section ovalization and tends
< - • »
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S00 PI I
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a—a 700 Pi!
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• — • p»l
added axial and hoop stresses resulting from internal pressure
which weakens the cross section, and at a certain value of
internal pressure the loss in cross section stiffness due to these
added stresses exceeds the gain in stiffness due to ovalization
resisting; hence, the decrease in both the instability and collapse
moments at higher values of internal pressure.
ivx warn 0.00 0.05 0.10 0. IS 0.20 0.25
End RotAdon ( r i d )
Variation of Limit Moment With Internal Pressure.
Fig. 4 Moment-end rotation for an elbow with h = 0.1615, at internal From the previous results it is possible to generate a set of limit
pressure values from 0-900 psi curves that could be used in design purposes. These limit curves
should be used in determining the maximum bending moment
that could be applied to an elbow with a certain value of internal
Figure 4 shows the variation of moment-rotation relation with pressure, or the value of internal pressure that the elbow could
increasing internal pressure from 0 psi to 900 psi. The general have in combination with a certain applied bending moment.
trend of increasing both the maximum moment and deformation Each limit curve shows the variation of both the instability
with increasing internal pressure is clear from this figure. The and collapse moment with internal pressure for each elbow
increase and the subsequent decrease of instability and collapse geometry under closing bending moment. Therefore, ten
moment with increasing pressure is clearly shown in Fig. 5. curves were generated and plotted. These curves are com-
The same type of behavior under in-plane closing moment bined together in Figs. 6 through 9. The variation of instabil-
was repeated for the remaining elbow geometries used in this ity moment with internal pressure for five elbow geometries
study, showing the general trend of increasing and then decreas- with (h) ranging from 0.4417 to 0.1615 is shown in Fig. 6.
ing of the instability and collapse moments with increasing the The increase and decrease in instability moments with inter-
internal pressure. nal pressure is clearly shown in this figure. It should be noted
The increase of collapse and instability moments with in- that the peak value of instability moment increases and shifts
creasing internal pressure could be explained by the increase to the right (i.e., at a higher pressure value) with increasing
of the elbow cross section stiffness due to internal pressure. The bend factor (h). The same trend is shown in Fig. 7 for the
rest of (h) values. This is because the maximum value of
internal pressure that could be used in an elbow increases
Ixio 6 ]
000 pit
soo p i t 4> h'0.1475 3.0E*6
1000 pil • M1.1217
1300 p»l • h-0.0967
1500 pii • h-0.0722 25E*6
2000 pil » h»0.0632
2200 pal

¥ i6£**
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0.4 0.6 0 200 400 600 800 I00O 1200 1400 1600 1800
End Rootlon (rndl Internal Pressure (psi)

Fig. 5 Moment-end rotation for an elbow with h = 0.1615, at selected Fig. 7 Variation of instability moment with internal pressure, closing
internal pressure values (0-2200 psi) case

Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology FEBRUARY 1998, Vol. 1 2 0 / 3 9

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6.0Et6 -•—hlBlBbilly
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0 400 800 1200 1600 2000 2400 2800 3200 3600 4000 4400 4800 5200 0.0652 0.0722 0.0967 0.1217 0.1475 0.1615 0.1996 0.2675 0.3627 0.4417
Internal Pressure (psi) Bend Factor (n)

Fig. 8 Variation of collapse m o m e n t w i t h internal pressure, closing c a s e Fig. 10 Variation of limit m o m e n t w i t h b e n d factor [h) 0 psi, closing

with increasing bend factor (ft) of the elbow, and that the
effect of internal pressure depends on both the diameter and and Findlay's limit equation (Eq. (1)) was 1.109 X 10 6 lb-
wall thickness of the elbow (the maximum effect is in the in. and was 1.147 X 10 6 lb-in. using Calladine's equation
case of highest diameter-to-thickness ratio Dlt). (Eq. ( 2 ) ) . The large displacement finite element solution for
The variation of collapse moment with internal pressure for the ideal plastic material gave an instability moment value
all the (h) values is shown in Figs. 8 and 9. The increase of 1.013 X 10 6 lb-in. As was expected, the theoretical limit
and then decrease of collapse moment with internal pressure is moments calculated using the limit equations of Spence and
clearly shown. Also, the peak value of collapse moment in- Findlay and that of Calladine are higher than the finite ele-
creases and shifts to the right with increasing (h). ment instability moment for the closing case. This is because
these limit equations are based on small displacements and
Variation of Limit Moment With Pipe Bend Factor (h).
do not take geometric nonlinearity or instability into account.
For the cases of internal pressure with values of 0 psi and 500
Therefore, these equations are not conservative when geo-
psi, the variation of instability and collapse moments with elbow
metric instability is concerned. On the other hand, Goodall
geometry is shown in Figs. 10 and 11.
approximate equation for the maximum load-carrying capac-
Figure 10 shows the variation of instability and collapse mo-
ity under closing moment gave a value of 1.077 X 106 lb-
ment with pipe bend factor (h) for the closing case without
in., which approaches the finite element solution.
internal pressure. This plot indicates an increase in both the
instability and collapse moment with the increase of pipe bend Another comparison was made between the finite element
factor. It should be noted from this figure that the instability small displacement solution and the theoretical small dis-
and collapse moments have nearly the same value for all elbow placement limit moment solution. In this case, both solutions
geometries under in-plane closing moment without internal do not take geometric instability into account. The small
pressure. This adds more significance to the angle method of displacement finite element analysis gave an instability mo-
determining collapse load as it predicts the same value of insta- ment value of 1.209 X 10 6 lb-in., which is closer to the
bility load. theoretical limit moment values than in the case of large
Figure 11 shows the case of in-plane closing moment with displacement finite element analysis. In fact, it is somewhat
500 psi internal pressure. In this case, there is a difference higher than the theoretical values, and this difference might
between collapse and instability moments, especially at low (h) be attributed to the approximations involved in each theoreti-
values, with the collapse load as a conservative estimate of cal limit load equation.
instability load. For the rest of elbow geometries, the large displacement
finite element instability were compared with the theoretical
Comparison With Analytical Limit Loads. It is useful limit moments calculated from Spence and Findlay, Callad-
to compare some of the finite element results with those ob- ine, and Goodall limit equations. The results are shown in
tained using the approximate equations of limit load pre- Table 2.
sented by Spence and Findlay (1973), Calladine (1974), or It should be noted that for the elbow geometries with h =s
that of Goodall (1978a), which were previously discussed. 0.09675, the finite element closing instability moment was
These equations are derived using limit theorems of plasticity greater than the limit moment calculated from limit equa-
and they assume ideal plastic material and small displacement tions, although it should be lower as it takes geometric insta-
(apart from that of Goodall, which is based on large displace- bility into account. At larger values of (h), the finite element
ment analysis). instability moment was lower. Therefore, it can be concluded
At first, the case of the elbow geometry with h = 0.1615 that the theoretical limit moments calculated from the limit
will be discussed. In this case, the limit moment using Spence
HI Hifi

— • — kiBtabiity
« h=01475

» h=O.I217 —•—Gotflpse
• h=0D967
. h=0.0722 i
. h=0.0632

^ / 7
—™i • ^
0.0E+0- 1 — i —
0.0662 0.0722 0.0967 0.1217 0.1475 0.1615 0.1! 0.2675 0.3627 0.4417
600 1000 1200 Bend Faclw lh)
Internal Pressure (psi)
Fig. 11 Variation of limit m o m e n t w i t h b e n d factor (/>) 5 0 0 psi, closing
Fig. 9 Variation of collapse m o m e n t with internal pressure, closing c a s e case

40 / Vol. 120, FEBRUARY 1998 Transactions of the ASME

Downloaded From: on 01/28/2016 Terms of Use:

Table 2 Analytical and FEA limit loads L.D. Meb. 3.6E+6-,
SO. Instab.
&D. Colop. 106*6 •
Bend Spence & Calladine Goodall, F.E.A., A
Factor Findlay Closing Closing t
(h) Ib-in Ib-in Ib-in Ib-in
-*« ___..
0.0632 2.495x10s 2.470x10s 2.066x10s 3.135x10s
1 1.56*6-
0.0722 3.136x10? 3.076x10s 2.638x10s 3.693x10s
0.0967 4.972x10s 4.970x10s 4.456x10s 5.129x10s 1.0E+6' Sfe iss •te ate 5tE -+H - 4 -
0.1217 7.121x10s 7.230x10s 6.648x10s 6.761x10s 5.0E+5-
0.1475 9.606x10s 9.879x10s 9.222x10s 8.796x10s
0.06+0- —_,— H _ ^ _ ^ — — H _*_ _^_
0.1615 1.147x10s 1.077x10s 1.013x10s 200 400 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1600 2000
0.1998 1.536x10s 1.613x10s 1.526x10s 1.417x10" Internal Pressure (psl)
0.2675 2.401x10s 2.570x10s 2.424x10s 2.256x10s
0.3527 3.648x10s 3.976x10s 3.734x10s 3.438x10s Fig. 13 Variation of limit m o m e n t with internal pressure h 0.1615—
small and large displacement analyses, closing case.
0.4417 5.100x10s 5.544x10s 5.224x10s 4.757x10s

The plastic collapse load determined by the angle method

equations are conservative for elbows with bend factors (h) has nearly the same value of plastic instability load in the clos-
lower than about O.l. At values of (h) above 0.1, the large ing moment case without internal pressure for all elbow geome-
displacement finite element analysis gives more conservative tries; but in the case with internal pressure, the plastic collapse
results. load is a conservative estimate of instability load, especially for
The results of analytical limit equations and finite element elbows with low bend factor (h).
closing instability are plotted and compared in Fig. 12, which Both the plastic instability and collapse loads increase with
shows the variation of analytical limit moments and finite ele- increasing pipe bend factor (h) due to the increased bending
ment closing instability moment without internal pressure. It is stiffness of the elbow cross section. The effects of internal
clear from this figure that the analytical limit moments are more pressure depend on the diameter-to-thickness ratio {DIt) of the
conservative at values of bend factor (h) s 0.1. The limit elbow, and they are more pronounced at high values of {DIt),
moment calculated from the small displacement of Spence and i.e., low values of {h).
Findlay is more conservative and is closer to the instability
moment than that of Calladine. References
Figure 13 shows the variation with internal pressure of insta- ABAQUS, 1995, ABAQUS/Standard Version 5.5, User's Manual Vol. I, Ex-
bility moment and collapse moment (using angle method) ob- ample Problems Manual Vol. I, and Theory Manual, Hibbitt, Carlsson & Sorensen,
tained from small and large displacement analyses for the same Inc., RI.
Bolt, S. E., and Greenstreet, W. L„ 1972, "Experimental Determination of
elbow with bend factor (h = 0.1615), and it compares them Plastic Collapse Loads for Pipe Elbows," ASME JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL
with values calculated using the approximate equation obtained TECHNOLOGY Paper No. 71-PVP-37, pp. 1-12.
by Goodall (1978b) small displacement analysis with internal Boyle, J. T., and Spence, J., 1977, "The Nonlinear Analysis of Pressurized
pressure. It is clear from this figure that for small displacement Pipe Bends," Proceedings, 3rd International Conference on Pressure Vessel
analysis, both instability and collapse moments continue to de- Technology, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 121-131.
Brashel, R. A., et al., 1983, "Calculation of the Load Carrying Capacity of
crease with increasing internal pressure. The limit moment cal- Pipe Elbows With the Help of the Method of Approximation," Proceedings, 7th
culated from Goodall also decreases with increasing internal SMiRT Conference, Chicago, IL, G/F5/8, pp. 373-380.
pressure, but the rate of decrease is smaller than that of the Brouard, d„ et al., 1981, "In-Plane and-Out-of-Plane Bending Tests on Carbon
finite element solution. Steel Pipe Bends," Proceedings, 6th SMiRT Conference, Paris, France, F3/2.
Calladine, C. R„ 1974, "Limit Analysis of Curved Tubes," Journal of Mechan-
ical Engineering Sciences, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.
Conclusions 85-87.
Chain, K. L. C , et al., 1984, "Approximate Limit Loads for Pipe Bends With
For pipe elbows under in-plane closing moments, both plastic End Constraints," Applied Solid Mechanics— /, eds., A. S. Tooth and J. T. Boyle,
instability and collapse loads increase with increasing internal Elsevier, 275-285.
Dhalla, A. K., 1980, "Plastic Collapse of a Piping Elbow: Effect of Finite
pressure up to a certain value, and then decrease with increasing Element Convergence and Residual Stresses," Proceedings, 4th International
pressure. This stiffening effect of internal pressure is directly Conference on Pressure Vessel Technology, Vol. 11, The Institution of Mechanical
associated with geometric nonlinearities since neglecting large Engineers, London, U.K., pp. 243-249.
displacements in the analysis results in a decrease of both insta- Dhalla, A. K„ 1987, "Collapse Characteristics of a Thin Walled Elbow: Valida-
bility and collapse loads with increasing internal pressure. The tion of Analytical Procedure," ASME JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOL-
OGY, Vol. 109, 394-401.
value of instability load from small displacement analysis for Goodall, I. W., 1978a, "Large Deformations in Plastically Deforming Curved
zero pressure is not conservative, since only material instability Tubes Subjected to In-Plane Bending," Research Division Report RD/B/N4312,
is accounted for in the analysis. Central Electricity Generating Board, England.
Goodall, I. W„ 1978b, "Lower Bound Limit Analysis of Curved Tubes Loaded
by Combined Internal Pressure and In-Plane Bending Moment," Research Divi-
sion Report RD/B/N4360, Central Electricity Generating Board, England.
—•— Catodire 6.06*6-| Hibbitt, H. D., and Leung, E. K„ 1985, "Verification and Application of an
! . Inelastic Analysis Methods for LMFBR Piping System,'' Welding Research Coun-
— •—Goodal

4.06*6 v// cil Bulletin, No. 308., pp. 1-28.

Hilsenkpf, P., et al., 1988, "Experimental Study of Behavior and Functional
Capability of Ferritic Steel Elbows and Austenitic Stainless Steel Thin-Walled

i J\
Elbows," International Journal of Pressure Vessels & Piping, Vol. 33, No. 2,
pp. 111-128.
Kitching, R., et al., 1979, "Limit Moment for a Smooth Pipe Bend Under In-
Plane Bending," International Journal of Mechanical Sciences, Vol. 21, pp. 7 3 1 -
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•i^*' ! Kussmaul, K., et al., 1987, "Investigation of the Plastic Behaviour of Pipe
0.06*0 ; t = 1 - " " i.—i—I—1__ Bends," ASME PVP-Vol. 127, pp. 55-66.
0.0632 0.0722 0.0967 0.1217 0.1475 0.1615 0.1998 0.2675 0.3827 0.4417
Marcal, P. V., 1967, "Elastic-Plastic Behavior of Pipe Bends With1 In-Plane
Bend Factor (h) Bending," Journal of Strain Analysis, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 84-90.
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Fig. 12 Variation of analytical and finite element limit moments with Plastic Deformation of Piping Products," Welding Research Council Bulletin,
bend factor (h) No. 254, pp. 65-82.

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Sobel, L. H., and Newman. S. Z., 1977, "Instability Analysis of Elbows in the an Elbow," ASME JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOLOGY, Vol. 108, pp.
Plastic Range," Proceedings, 4th SMiRT Conference, San Francisco, CA, Vol. 297-304.
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42 / Vol. 120, FEBRUARY 1998

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