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15-21 JANUARY 2009 / 15


Analysis of the Autofrettage Effect in

Improving the Fatigue Resistance of Auto-
motive CNG Storage Vessels
Seung-Moo Han1, Beom-Cheol Hwang2, Ho-Yoon Kim3 and Chul Kim2,#
1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Kyunghee University, Seoul, Korea, 130-731
2 Research Institute of Mechanical Technology, Pusan National University, Jangjeon-dong, Geumjeong-gu, Pusan, Korea, 609-735
3 School of Mechanical Engineering and RIMT , Pusan National University, Jangjeon-dong, Geumjeong-gu, Pusan, Korea, 609-735
# Corresponding Author / E-mail:; TEL: +82-51-510-2489; FAX: +82-51-512-9835

KEYWORDS: CNG, Storage vessel, Autofrettage, Fatigue life

Type Ⅱ compressed natural gas (CNG) storage vessels for automobiles are becoming widely used. They are not
only supplied to automakers in Korea (such as Hyundai Motors), but are being exported overseas in increasing
numbers. Autofrettage is a process that produces beneficial residual stresses in a vessel by subjecting it to
excessive internal pressure. This strengthens the vessel and improves its fatigue resistance. This paper presents
research into the autofrettage process and the residual stresses it produces in type Ⅱ CNG storage vessels. Finite
element analysis and a closed-form equation are used. Fatigue resistance is then analyzed via a fatigue evaluation
performed according to ASME section Ⅷ.

Manuscript received: June 16, 2008 / Accepted: September 30, 2008

1. Introduction

a = inner radius of a thick-walled cylinder Pressure vessels used for fuel storage in air or ground
transportation have recently become smaller, more highly pressurized,
b = outer radius of a thick-walled cylinder
and lighter in weight than existing tank-type storage vessels. These
c = critical radius for yielding newer pressure vessels can be designed and fabricated in accordance
K = stress intensity factor with ASME Section Ⅷ, Div. 1. However, mobile fuel storage vessels
Pe thin are subject to, for example, vibration, external loads, and thermal
= critical pressure to start yielding on the inner
surface of a thin-walled cylinder stresses. To account for specific operational conditions, specific stress
p i = inner pressure applied on a thin-walled cylinder analysis is required to determine a vessel’s durability and resistance to
Pmax = maximum alternating load fatigue. Moreover, the vessel’s fatigue cycling depends on fuel
Pmin = minimum alternating load consumption and charging, which requires the use of ASME Section
Ⅷ, Div. 2. For existing products, autofrettage is carried out after the
S a = alternating stress amplitude
filament-winding procedure is complete to improve the product’s
S a = alternating stress intensity revised

fatigue resistance by generating compressive residual stresses. The

S m = mean stress calculated from the load cycle

process is accomplished by applying a sufficiently high internal

Su = ultimate tensile stress pressure to produce plastic flow in the inner part of the vessel. After
t = minimum required thickness of a walled cylinder this internal pressure has been removed, residual stress persists due to
σ a = alternating stress the plastic flow, or deformation that has taken place, with
σ m = mean stress compression in the inner part and tension in the outer part. Type II
σ r = radial stress CNG fuel storage vessels and other similar storage vessels yield to
low-cycle fatigue1 of thousands to hundreds of thousands of cycles
σ Y = yield stress
during the vessel’s life. The minimum working life for these vessels is
σ θ = circumferential stress of a walled cylinder prescribed to be 15 years, with 750 cycles/year, according to Korea
Gas Safety Corporation regulations, and hence the minimum fatigue

© KSPE and Springer 2009


life is 11,250 cycles. The stress distribution in a cylinder is known.6 The stress
Even though autofrettage can be analyzed theoretically via component in the elastic region is given in Eqs. (1a) and (1b) for a
classical plasticity theory,2 very little research has been conducted in thick-walled cylinder subject to internal pressure only.
this direction. However, since the fatigue life of pressure vessels or
pipes is an important consideration, research into the application of a2 p
 b2 
autofrettage to thick-walled pressure vessels or pipes is currently σ =−  2 − 1i
b2 − a2

under way3 using finite element analysis. In addition, almost no

 
theoretical approach exists to composite vessels because of contact a2 p  b2 
σθ = 2  + 1
problems between metallic liners and reinforced composite materials, b − a 2  r 2 
as well as the complex stress behavior of composite materials. A few
papers have presented a finite element analysis of Type III pressure The yield criterion for plain strain, given in Eq. (2), is applied to
vessels,4 but these vessels are different from Type II. Specifically, Eqs. (1a) and (1b). The critical pressure at which the inner surface
they can easily acquire residual stress on account of their thickness yields can then be obtained from Eq. (3).
and the high toughness of the cylinder part, which is especially
characteristic of Type III vessels composed of aluminum liners and 3
external composite materials. (σ θ − σ r ) = σ Y (2)
In this study, an analysis of autofrettage and the resulting residual 2
stress in Type II CNG storage vessels was carried out via a σ  a2 
p e = Y 1 − 2  (3)
computational method and finite element analysis for circumferential 3 b 
compressive residual stress occurring in thin cylinders subject to
internal pressure. To improve the effect of autofrettage on fatigue life, The stress component in the plastic region of a thick-walled
the effect of the residual stresses on fatigue behavior was also cylinder is given in Eqs. (4a) and (4b). The stress component in the
investigated using a fatigue analysis technique prescribed in ASME elastic region can now be written as in Eqs. (5a) and (5b) by
Section Ⅷ , together with the structural analysis of the present study. substituting Eqs. (4a) and (4b) into Eq. (3).

2σ Y r
2. Theory σ r = − pi + ln  (4a)
3 a
2.1 Residual stress in pressure vessels 2σ Y
σθ = σ r + (4b)
2.1.1 Thick-walled cylinders 3
A thick-walled cylinder subject to internal pressure is illustrated
σ Y c2  b2 
schematically in Fig. 1. σr = −  2 − 1 (5a)
3b r
 
σY c2  b2 
σθ =  2 + 1 (5b)
3b r
 

The residual stress in a thick-walled cylinder, subject to internal

pressure only, can be calculated by subtracting the respective Eqs.
(4a) and (4b) from Eqs. (5a) and (5b).

2.1.2 Thin-walled cylinders

For thin-walled cylinders, the critical pressure at which the inner
surface yields can be obtained from Eq. (8) by assuming that Eq. (6)
holds, then substituting this into Eqs. (1a) and (1b) and writing the
stress components as in Eq. (7).7
(a) Elastic state
b − a = t, ≈1 (6)
σ = 0, σ θ = i

2σ Y t
p e thin = (8)
3 a

When increased internal pressure causes plastic deformation in

the vessel, the overall wall surface can be regarded as undergoing
plastic deformation, since the cylinder wall is thin. Hence, a plastic
solution for a thin-walled cylinder can be written as in Eqs. (10a) and
(10b) by assuming that Eq. (9) holds, and then substituting it into Eqs.
(b) Elastic–plastic state (5a) and (5b).
Fig. 1 Thick-walled cylinders subject to uniform inner and outer c
c − a = t, ≈ 1 (9)
pressure r

σ = −p
r i
(10a) an average stress of 0, should be calculated before constructing a
fatigue curve. This curve can also be obtained from the revised
2σ Y
σθ = − pi (10b) Goodman diagram, or by simply using Eq. (17).
Sa =
The circumferential residual stress can be calculated from Eq. S
1− m
(11) by applying an elastic solution for a thin-walled cylinder, derived Su
from Eq. (7), and the plastic solution given by Eq. (10b).
The ASME provides design fatigue curves for various materials,
2σ Y  a and their repetition frequencies can be calculated for the revised
σθ = − p i 1 +  (11) alternating stress intensities and elastic coefficients via linear
3  t
2.2 Fatigue life of a pressure vessel
The ASME method7,8 for determining the life of a pressure vessel
utilizes a design fatigue curve with alternating stress intensity. Since 3. Finite element analysis
behavior after yielding is not currently taken into account, the
procedure for calculating1 the alternating stress intensity needs to be 3.1 Modeling and boundary conditions for the CNG storage
revised. A low-cycle fatigue analysis procedure for pressure vessels vessel
based on the ASME code is shown in Fig. 2. Fig. 3 shows model no. CNG2-026, which is a typical type II
storage vessel.

Fig. 2 Fatigue evaluation procedure according to the ASME code

The average stress to be used in the analysis of low-cycle fatigue Fig. 3 The terminology for the parts of the CNG storage vessel
does not necessarily coincide with the value calculated directly from
the applied load. Accordingly, the average stress should be revised via The dimensions of the components of existing products are
the procedure given below, before performing a fatigue analysis.9 shown in Fig. 4(a). The finite element analysis model for reviewing
This is because existing fatigue curves were tested in a state of design feasibility is a three-dimensional (3-D) model with a 20°
complete stress reversal, in which the revised average stress is 0. Thus, rotational radius (the product being considered axially symmetric),
the revised Goodman diagrams and equations can be applied to the and the shape and element division are shown in Fig. 4(b).
revision of average stress.
The general Goodman formula10 is given in Eq. (12). Eq. (13)
follows upon setting the revised average stress equal to 0. Here
alternating stress is expressed as in Eq. (14), so the stress amplitude
and the revised average stress can be obtained from Eq. (15) and Eqs.
(16a) and (16b).1
σa σm
+ =1 (12)
S a Su
σ a = Sa (13)
σa = max(σ i − σ j ) (14)
Sa = max(σ i − σ j ), (∵ i, j = 1, 2,3) (15)
Sm = Sm ( Sa + Sm ≤ σ Y )
' '

S m = σ Y − S a ( Sa + Sm > σ Y and S a ≤ σ Y )

Sm = 0 (Sa > σ Y ) (16c) (a) Dimension (b) Element division
The existence of average stress reduces a material’s fatigue Fig. 4 The dimension, shape, and element division of the model of a
resistance. Accordingly, the modified alternating stress intensity, with Type II fuel storage vessel

Hexahedral element division was used for the finite element 3.2.1 Autofrettage of Type II pressure vessels
analysis because of its overall accuracy and appropriateness in the To obtain compressive residual stress in a pressure vessel, a small
thickness direction. The division was made to have four layers in the amount of plastic deformation caused by yielding of the materials
thickness direction of the metal liner and composite material. must occur. The results of the finite element analysis at the existing
Solid185, 3-D 8-Node Structural Solid or Layered Solid, is used for autofrettage pressure of 40 MPa are shown in Fig. 6.
the metal liner and Solid46, 3-D 8-Node Layered Structural Solid, for
the composite material.11
Parts of the product were selected and modeled as shown in Fig.
5(a) to give a symmetric constraint condition in the tangential
direction and a constrained displacement in the axial direction. In
addition, finite element analysis was conducted by applying the
design pressure to the inside surface of the metal liner.
Type II storage vessels generate residual stress via an autofrettage
process, and hence, the finite element analysis should be conducted
before the design pressure is applied. Thus, the finite element analysis
was performed in accordance with the design pressure by applying
residual stress in loads divided into five steps. The displacement and
load boundary conditions are illustrated in Figs. 5(a) and (b),

(a) Loading (40.0 MPa)

(a) Displacement
(b) Unloading (0.0 MPa)
Fig. 6 Stress distribution of the steel liner on loading or unloading

The maximum stress is only 775.0 MPa, and does not reach the
yield stress level of 850.0 MPa. To find the minimum inner pressure
at which yielding begins to occur in the metallic liner, a finite element
analysis was conducted by raising the pressure in 2.0-MPa increments
from the existing autofrettage pressure of 40.0 MPa. These results are
shown in Fig. 7.

(b) Load
Fig. 5 The boundary conditions for displacement and load used in FE
analysis of the Type II fuel storage vessel

3.2 Finite element analysis of the CNG storage vessel

For CNG storage vessels, the autofrettage that contributes to their
improved structural strength is traditionally carried out after the
filament-winding process. This is done by applying, and then
removing, excessive inner pressure before using the vessels.
Circumferential compressive residual stress is generated via the
yielding of the inner circumference of the liner.
Both Type Ⅱ pressure vessels (AISI 4135H: yield strength 850.0
MPa) and Type Ⅲ pressure vessels (Al6061-T6: yield strength 276.0 Fig. 7 Variation in maximum stress of the steel liner and stiffener of
MPa) were selected for this experiment. the Type II pressure vessel relative to inner pressures

This leads one to expect that a large amount of compressive 3.2.2 Autofrettage of Type III pressure vessels
residual stress will occur in the metallic liner when the autofrettage Type III pressure vessels use aluminum liners and typically have
pressure reaches about 50.0MPa. The changes in compressive reinforcement material of T700 class carbon fiber/epoxy. According
residual stress at up to 58.0MPa-just before the vessel ruptures-are to Table 1, which shows both Type III and Type II design pressures,
shown in Fig. 8. almost no difference exists between the working pressure and the test
pressure, but a small difference exists between the rupture pressure
and the autofrettage pressure. Finite element analysis for Type III
pressure vessels fabricated with Al6061-T6 metallic liners was
conducted using the design pressure. The model had the same
geometry and dimensions as the Type II vessel. This was done to
eliminate the effect of geometrical and dimensional differences, and
to focus the analysis on autofrettage processes related to the
differences in the material and yield point of metallic liners.

Table 2 Properties of Al6061-T6 used in FE analysis

AISI 4135H Al6061-T6
Young’s Modulus (GPa) 205 69
Fig. 8 Variation in tangential residual stress of the steel liner of the Yield Strength (MPa) 850 276
Type II pressure vessel relative to inner pressures
Ultimate Tensile Strength
950 310
Compressive residual stress begins to occur when the maximum (MPa)
stress reaches 52.0 MPa of inner pressure-close to the yield point, and
the increased compressive residual stress is very large compared to The properties of the metallic liners used for the finite element
the increased inner pressure. Therefore, the autofrettage pressure analysis are compared to those of AISI 4135H and are listed in Table
should be set at more than 52.0 MPa to generate compressive residual 2. Fig. 10 presents a graph of maximum stress, analyzed up to 10
stress, and thereby improve the fatigue life of the product. The MPa, and obtained by reducing the pressure by 1 MPa decrements
distribution of compressive residual stress generated by increasing the from an inner pressure of 20 MPa (at which rupture is expected). The
autofrettage pressure up to 56.0 MPa is shown in Fig. 9. compressive residual stress for varying inner pressures is plotted in
Fig. 11. Overall tendencies are shown in Fig. 7 and Fig. 8 (the
analysis results for Type II).

Fig. 9 Distribution of compressed residual stress of the steel liner at

an inner pressure of 56.0 MPa Fig. 10 Variation in maximum stress of the steel liner and stiffener
relative to the inner pressures of the Type III pressure vessel
For a Type II pressure vessel in which steel with a high yield
strength is used as a metallic liner, the autofrettage process should be
performed at a pressure close to the rupture point to generate
considerable compressive residual stress, and thereby improve the
vessel's fatigue life.

Table 1 Comparison of the design pressures used in Type II pressure

vessels and Type III pressure vessels (unit: MPa)
Type II Type III
Working Pressure 20.70 20.70
Hydraulic Test Pressure 31.10 31.05
Bursting Pressure 56.90 49.70
Fig. 11 Variation in tangential residual stress of the steel liner relative
Autofrettage Pressure 40.00 35.70
to the inner pressure of the Type III pressure vessel

4. Some considerations concerning the finite element material’s yield strength. This can be explained by the yield ratio,12
analysis and the prediction of fatigue life the ratio of the yield strength to the tensile strength, as given in Eq.
From among design parameters including yield stress, design σY
pressure, and the thickness and inner radius of the cylinder, yield ρY = (18)
stress is the one that designers of CNG storage vessels are able to
determine. However, yield stress depends on material selection, and Normal behavior occurs when the yield ratio measured in terms
materials with high yield stress are typically used for lightweight of the structure’s fatigue behavior ranges from 0.5 to 0.7. This range
vessels. Hence, limitations will exist on the amount of compressive has increased up to 0.75 due to recent developments in steel products.
residual stress that can be produced in storage vessels by autofrettage. However, for materials with tensile strength greater than 600 MPa,
most of the yield ratios exceed 0.9. Hence, yield ratios have become a
4.1 Some considerations concerning the finite element analysis very important consideration in steel products. A high yield ratio
The result derived from Eq. (11) for the residual stress in a thin- means that the range from yielding to rupture is very narrow, which
walled cylinder and the corresponding result for a thick-walled makes the generation of residual stress via autofrettage difficult.
cylinder derived from Eqs. (1) and (5) are given in Table 3.
4.3 Prediction of fatigue life
Table 3 Comparison of residual stresses obtained from theoretical The variables and associated values necessary to obtain the
calculations (unit: MPa) revised alternating stress intensity are listed in Table 4. The maximum
and minimum stresses are values obtained in the absence of
Residual Stress
autofrettage, and the value of the maximum alternating load Pmax is
Thick-walled cylinder – 441.4 set at 25.9 MPa (1.25 times the working pressure), in accordance with
Korea Gas Safety Corporation regulations.13
Thin-walled cylinder 241.5
Table 4 Variables and their values for calculating the revised
The theoretical result for the thick-walled cylinder implies that alternating stress intensity
residual stress is very high during the material’s elastic and elastic-
S max 504.0 MPa Maximum stress during a cycle
plastic deformation, whereas the corresponding result for the thin-
walled cylinder shows that the stress in an elastic-plastic state is S min 0.0 MPa Minimum stress during a cycle
higher than the stress in an elastic state. Fig. 6 shows that no
compressive residual stress occurs in this state. Pmax 25.9 MPa Maximum alternating load
Eq. (11) is applicable to pressure vessels with a 4.3 mm thickness Pmin 0.0 MPa Minimum alternating load
(as shown in Fig. 4).
σY 850.0 MPa Yield strength
4.2 The validity of the autofrettage process
Fig. 12 shows the compressive residual stresses of Fig. 7 and Fig. SU 950.0 MPa Ultimate tensile strength
10 for each stress ratio, where the x-axis indicates the ratio of actual K 3.0 Stress intensity factor
rupture pressure to autofrettage pressure, and the y-axis denotes the
ratio of the yield points to compressive residual stress.

Fig. 13 The result of stress distribution at the maximum inner

Fig. 12 Comparison of the stress ratios in the steel liner and the pressure of 25.9 MPa
aluminum liner
Fig. 13 shows the stress distribution for the maximum stress
According to this schema, for aluminum liners with relatively low during a cycle under the given conditions. Stress amplitude S a can
yield stress (i.e., Type III), the point at which residual stress occurs is be obtained from Eq. (19a), while the revised stress amplitude for
quickly reached and the amount of stress is large, which agrees well low-cycle fatigue, taking stress concentration into account, can be
with the tendency shown in Eq. (11). In addition, compressive obtained from Eq. (19b).
residual stress begins to occur when an autofrettage pressure of
somewhat more than 85% of the rupture pressure is attained. One can
Sa =
(Pmax − Pmin ) = 12.9MPa (19a)
generate compressive residual stresses of up to about 16% of the liner 2

Sa =
1 (P − Pmin ) = 38.8MPa
K ⋅ max (19b)
analysis shows that virtually no compressive residual stress
occurs, and hence no significant beneficial effects for improving
2 2
the fatigue life.
Furthermore, the values of maximum stress S max and minimum (3) The autofrettage process was analyzed for two kinds of metallic
stress S min can be obtained using finite element analysis results for liners: AISI 4135H and Al6061-T6. The results showed that to
thin-walled, axially symmetric cylinders. generate compressive residual stress, the autofrettage pressure
Using these results, the average stress S m can be obtained from should be set at approximately 85% of the actual rupture pressure.

Eq. (20), and the revised average stress S m , taking Eq. (19b) (the Moreover, this process can produce compressive residual stresses
revised stress amplitude) into account, can be obtained from Eq. (21). of up to about 16% of the metal's yield strength.

S m' =
(S max − S min ) = 252.0MPa (20) ACKNOWLEDGMENT
S m = 252.0 MPa (∵ Sa + S m < σ Y )

(21) This study was supported by a Pusan National University

Research Grant, 2007.
The alternating stress S a , revised according to Eq. (14), can be

obtained from Eq. (22).

S a = 52.8MPa

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