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Chemical Enginegrlng Processing

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Chemical Engineering and Processing 35 (1996) 287-293

Failure modes of pressure vessel components and their consideration in analyses

A. Lietzmann, J. Rudolph, E. Weil3*
Fachbereich Chemietechnik, Universitiit Dortmund, D-4422I Dortmund, Germany

Received 27 June 1995; accepted 9 November 1995


Metallic pressure vessel components such as dished ends show different modes of failure depending upon the geometrical and loading conditions. These are mainly gross plastic deformation under static load, loss of stability (buckling), fatigue crack initiation at highly stressed locations under cyclic loading (especially in the low cycle regime), progressive plastic deformation (ratcheting) and creep at high temperatures. Existing codes are mostIy used to determine necessary wall thickness (design by rule) based on the static load-carrying capacity. Guidelines for other failure modes are given in a more or less general way for complex structures. In this article it is shown that all the failure modes mentioned can be estimated by carrying out linear and non-linear finite elements analyses. The possibility of using the finite elements method as a basis for design by rule and design by analysis is discussed.
Keywords: Dished end; Design by rule; Design by analysis; Finite elements method (FEM); Load-carrying capacity; Fatigue strength; Ratcheting;

Creep used as a component in pressure vessels of chemical plants (e.g. reactors at high temperature). It will be shown that it is normally not possible to use design by rule for all possible failure modes because codes do not and cannot consider any special case. In this case, general guidelines for design by analysis are normally available. It is the responsibility of the design engineer to choose the appropriate means of strength analysis (analytical, experimental or numerical methods). Nowadays, it should be common practice to apply numerical instruments of analysis such as the finite elements method (FEM) because of steadily improving computer technology and sophisticated software (detailed modelling, non-linear features). Computer-aided simulation of the strength behaviour of structures is much more precise than the application of analytical methods and cheaper than experimental verification. In this context, it must not be forgotten that the user of finite elements software remains fully responsible for the evaluation of the results. It is important to have sufficient experience to choose the appropriate element type, mesh density, material law, boundary conditions, etc.

1. Introduction

In the process of designing pressure vessels for chemical plants, it is important to consider all possible failure modes of a special structure. Mostly, it will not be enough to confine strength analysis to purely static loading. Nevertheless, load-carrying capacity (design against global plastic deformation) should be demonstrated in the first step. This can be done by using the design rules of international pressure vessel codes [1-4]. The possibility of other failure modes like buckling (instability), fatigue (especially low cycle fatigue, LCF) due to cyclic loading, time-dependent material behaviour at high temperature (creep), progressive plastic deformation (ratcheting) and others have to be checked in the subsequent steps. A dished end in the K16pper shape with a central nozzle submitted to internal pressure and supplementary axial forces (tensile and compressive) will be used in the framework of this paper in order to describe the method of analysis. This kind of dished end is widely
* Corresponding author.


A. Lietzmann et al. / Ckemical Engineering and Processing 35 (1996) 287-29.3



nozzle spherical section T

% ;/knuckle D


Fig. 1. Meshing of a torispherical end with a centred nozzle.

or by using design diagrams (e.g. Ref. [2]). The factor fl is a function of the wall thickness [1] and thus dictates an iterative solution for Eq. (1). Openings are normally limited to the spherical region of the dished end when an analysis based on the Kellog design approach (e.g. Ref. [1]) relative to the area replacement method (e.g. Ref. [4]) is to be carried out. According to Refs. [2] and [3], such openings have to be positioned entirely within 0.SD. The German code [1] treats openings within 0.6D as pierced spherical ends by application of the Kellog design approach, whereas special /?-values are supplied for radially disposed nozzles in the knuckle region. It is stated that the application of these values for knuckles with or without openings limits the maximum plastic strain to I%, However, this criterion does not exclude the plastification of large regions and it should be noted that the /?-values supplied are based on experiments using domed ends with centred flanged-in manholes [6,7] and not nozzles in the knuckle region. Furthermore, these /?-values actually refer to the knuckle of the flanged-in manhole and not to the toroidal section of a torispherical end. This problem has already been dealt with in Ref. [8]. Rules for design against progressive plastic deformation (ratcheting) are only given in a quite general way in design codes. According to Ref. [4], stress calculated on the basis of linearly elastic material behaviour should not exceed twice the yield strength. Creep is only considered in terms of possible application of a time-dependent design strength value (1% creep strain limit, creep rupture strength) in connection with specific safety factors. The maximum elastic stress range (membrane, bending and peak stresses) is required for fatigue analysis. The codes listed [1-4] provide guidelines for fatigue analysis including appropriate fatigue curves. The determination of the relevant stresses at local structural discontinuities, weld seams, etc. remains the task of the engineer. Local effects are often described by the definition of stress concentration factors (S.C.F.) referring the maximum occurring (equivalent) stress to a nominal stress:
S.C.F. = 0"max

The structure to be considered here is symmetrical with respect to the main axis of rotation and with respect to applied loads. It is possible to use plane elements with an axisymmetric option in the FE model of the dished end with a central nozzle (Fig. 1) which will considerably save the time for modelling and computation. For the fatigue analysis in particular, the model must be detailed enough to include local stress concentration effects (e.g. weld seams). The finite elements program package ANSYS5.0 [5] was used to carry out the different analyses.

2. Design by rule according to national codes

Guidelines for the design of torispherical shells are to be found in all international codes [1-4]. It should be borne in mind that the rules offered are restricted mostly to the aspect to load-carrying capacity under internal pressure loading. The required wall thickness of the torispherical head is either calculated according to a formula (e.g. Ref. [1])




Nominal stress in the case of the torispherical end can be expressed in terms of the membrane stress of a hemispherical end with the diameter of the adjacent cylinder (Fig. 1):



A. Lietzmann et al. / Chemical Engineering and Processing 35 (I996) 287-293


' '
I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

v- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


T / D = 0.005


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . r

3 .-:_

. . . . . . . . I

. . . . . . . ~- . . . . . . . .


+ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I I t I

i i i I I i I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

i i i I i i I -4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I t I I


0.4 d/D



Fig. 2. The/?-values for torispherical ends with a centred nozzle based on the 1% strain limit (t/T= 1.0).

Stress concentration factors for torispherical ends in a K15pper shape without openings based on the freebody method [9] are given in AD-Merkblatt B3

Nowadays, it is advisable to apply modern analysis techniques such as the finite elements method.

3. Finite



3. i. Load-carrying capacity
All the failure criteria mentioned above can be considered by finite elements (FE) analyses. Furthermore, the method can be adapted to any given criterion. In the case of load-carrying capacity, iteratire non-linear FE analyses deliver /?-values directly according to Eq. (1). However, it should not be forgotten that these analyses are rather time-consuming from a computational basis. A plastic strain limit of 1% in the knuckle region has been used as a criterion. This seems to be appropriate for ductile materials, e.g. austenitic steels. On the other hand, it is not too conservative because plastic strain in the knuckle region of a torispherical end is mainly caused by bending and hence is not limited to a particular point (notch strain). The strain limit for

the knuckle does not exclude higher plastic strains in the nozzle-to-shell transition region. The non-linear FE analyses were based on a linearly ideally elastic plastic material law. This assumption is conservative with respect to the hardening behaviour of the real material. The change of geometry under loading was considered by the application of elements allowing for large deformation effects and the activation of the appropriate option within the FE program. It should be borne in mind that analyses involving large deformation effects increase convergence problems quite considerably. It is advisable to only activate this option in those cases where it can be foreseen that the results will be noticeably influenced by these effects. Thin torispherical ends, in particular, exhibit this behaviour. Fig. 2 demonstrates that the strength behaviour of the knuckle is strongly influenced by a centred noz, zle. Even small nozzles situated entirely in the spherical region of the head reduce fl-values for the toroidal region. This behaviour is due to a stiffening effect of the nozzle with respect to the knuckle. A global minimum is reached at a d/D ratio of 0.8. The stiffening effect decreases beyond this ratio with a reduction in the knuckle volume. The centred nozzle reaches the knuckle (eliminating the spherical section) at a d/D ratio of ca. 0.85. All the curves in


A. Lietzmann et al. / Chemical Engineering and Processing 35 (1996) 287-293







1 plastic strain for T / D = 0.005 0.75 displacement for T / D = 0.001 \ 0.5 displacement for T / D -- 0.005 plastic strain for T / D = 0.001













Fig. 3. Non-linear buckling of the knuckle of a torispherical end submitted to internal pressure loading.

Fig. 2 converge to the theoretical boundary value of 2.0 (dashed line) at d/D = 1.0 (direct connection between the nozzle and the adjacent cylinder), thus reflecting the circumferential membrane stress of the large cylinder. Of course, ~-values for the unpierced torispherical end are reflected when d/D--, 0 (dashed lines). The curves also show that the location of the maximum plastic strain is changed within the knuckle.

3.2. Stability problems

The failure behaviour of very thin torispherical ends submitted to internal pressure may be governed by stability because of compressive circumferential stresses in the toroidal section. Non-linear analyses of the unpierced dished end were carried out for T/D ratios of 01001 and 0.005. As seen from Fig. 3, the relative displacement under increasing pressure vessel loading (represented by lift) will start to increase rapidly at a particular point. The additional curves for plastic strain show that this process will start in thin structures before the 1% plastic strain limit is reached. Both criteria should be considered in codes for thin torispherical ends. The various influences of imperfections on the stability behaviour of the structure have not been considered in the framework of these analyses.

mechanical origin. It is possible to describe the ratcheting behaviour of a structure by finite elements analyses based on simplified materials laws and the experience of the engineer. For example, thermal ratcheting has been analysed by Rust [10]. The dished end with a centred nozzle was analysed assuming internal pressure loading and axial forces in the nozzle. The axial force was tensile during one cycle and compressive during the next one. Kinematic hardening behaviour of the material was assumed, thus allowing an approximate consideration of the Bauschinger effect. Fig. 4 shows the ratcheting behaviour during 200 load steps for a special geometrical configuration (T/D = 0.05, d/D = 0.6 and t/T= 1.0). Twice the yield strength (the criterion for shake-down according to Ref. [4]) was exceeded in a linear analysis. Ratcheting effects are strongly dependent upon the hardening behaviour of the material. A stress/strain curve with only a very small slope in the plastic region (plastic slope = 100 N mm -2) leads to a considerable change in the plastic strain increment. It is also clear that ratcheting has to be analysed for a given structure and cannot be depicted in a general way by factors. The analysis allows for an estimation of structural ratcheting based on a simplified model of the real material behaviour. However, the results will represent a safe estimation because of the hardening reserves of the material.

3.3. Progressiveplastic deformation 3.4. Creep

Progressive plastic deformation (ratcheting) is a very complex phenomenon of mechanical structures under changing loads. These loads can be of a thermal or The consideration of creep effects is very important for metallic pressure vessel components in the high-tem-

A. Lietzmann et al. / Chemical Engineering and Processing 35 (1996) 287-293




g .5



"l~'~ tt~t/~



" .........


",~ ......

~ ................

.~ ........

vvVVVV[ ''
..... "1 .................


plastic slope = 100 N / m m 2



"plast!c slope = 0 N / m m 2 1.6 _

axial force (tensile and ii compressive)



1.4 0

, 40

, 80

, 12( load cycle N



Fig. 4. Ratcheting behaviour of a torispherical end with a centred nozzle under combined internal pressure axial force (tensile, compressive) loading.

perature regime because of the changing materials properties. Under these circumstances, stresses and strains become time-dependent. Normally, creep strains are classified as primary, secondary and tertiary [1113]. The region of tertiary creep should not be reached because creep rupture will follow immediately. The problem of creep is an important factor in the safety of components of chemical plants. A wide range of material has been published (e.g. Ref. [14]) dealing with the problem from the viewpoint of materials science. It is necessary to find simplified ways of describing the material behaviour within finite elements analyses since a complex description of the material behaviour (e.g. Ref. [13]) often fails because of the missing material property values. These analyses can be based on the Norton-Bailey creep law.
= K~nv m


which describes secondary creep and approximates primary creep. The factor K and the exponents n and m have to be determined by experiment (e.g. Ref. [15]). A simplified way of describing creep by Norton-Bailey's law could be based on the stress values at 1% creep strain for 10000 h and 100000 h [16] which are normally available as materials data for a particular steel. In this case, the exponent m is set to 1.0. A finite elements analysis including creep was carried out for the same geometrical configuration mentioned

above ( T / D = 0.05, d/D = 0.6 and t / T = 1.0) under internal pressure loading. The analysis was based on the materials data for the steel 13CrMo44 at an operating temperature of 540 C. The creep behaviour of the structure was modelled for an operating time of 10 000 h. The structure was submitted to an internal pressure value corresponding to the 1% creep strain limit at 10000 h. The development of time-dependent creep strains of up to nearly 4% in the knuckle region and the effect of stress relaxation can be seen in Fig. 5. The stress obtained can be compared with the tabulated creep rupture strength (129 N mm -2 for the given material). There is a significant stress gradient during the first 500 h of operation. It can be concluded that the structure is still safe enough with respect to creep failure. It must be mentioned that finite element analyses including creep effects are extremely time-consuming at the moment. Further developments with respect to hard- and soft-ware could make parametric studies of the creep bahaviour possible. In this case the maximum permissible load for static conditions could be applied to find a limit in operation time based on a given creep strain limit. This creep strain limit has to be fixed carefully and based on practical experience. The maximum elastic stresses required for the proof of fatigue strength of the knuckle region under pulsating pressure load were also determined (Fig. 6) by linear finite elements analyses and expressed in terms of


A. Lietzmann et al. / Chemical Engineering and Processing 35 (1996) 287-293

180 170 ~160 Z .N 150 r~ 140

4 3.5 3 '~ 2.5 equivalent creep strain


130 120 110


"6 1
0 V , I , ~

0 2000

equivalent stress

4000 6000 8000 10000 time in h Fig. 5. Creep behaviour of a torisphericalend with a centred nozzle under internal pressure loading.

stress concentration factors (S.C.F.) according to Eq. (2). It is shown that the stress concentration in the knuckle region diminishes when the centred nozzle reaches the knuckle, thus eliminating discontinuity stresses caused by the changing of curvature between the spherical and the toroidal section. The curves representing stress concentration factors converge to the theoretical boundary value of S.C.F. -- 2.0 at d/D = 1.0. This is again equal to the circumferential membrane stress of the adjacent cylindrical shell. It should be borne in mind that the fatigue strength of all highly stressed regions (knuckle, weld seam, nozzle) have to be considered separately and that the t / T ratio has a strong influence on the fatigue strength [17]. Linear finite elements analyses can be carried out more effectively than non-linear ones. Stress concentration factors can be determined by parametric studies allowing variation of all the geometrical parameters of interest and depicted in a general way. Modern FE programs [5] provide an adequate programming environment.





A torispherical end in the Kl6pper shape was used as an example to show possible failure modes of pressure vessel components and their consideration in analysis. Existing codes [1-4] concentrate on the load-carrying behaviour of structures. Guidelines are given on a

design by rule basis. Such design against gross plastic deformation under static loading should always be undertaken first. It will often be necessary to include other modes of failure (loss of stability, progressive plastic deformation, creep, fatigue) caused by special geometrical and/or loading conditions. By and large, these supplementary failure modes are normally not treated on a design by rule basis in codes. Guidelines given for design by analysis are more or less general. It is shown that the finite elements method provides a universal instrument of analysis. All the failure modes mentioned can be modelled after reasonable simplification of the materials laws. Results for design against gross plastic deformation and against fatigue failure can be depicted in the form of factors based on parametric studies using the programming environment of the FE program. These results can be used directly for design by rule. In cases where ratcheting is possible, special non-linear finite elements analyses should be carried out. These analyses are still rather time-consuming. The hardening behaviour of the material should be modelled as precisely as possible because of its significant influence on progressing plastic strains. Nowadays, these analyses should be carried out for special pressure vessels. Creep is a very dangerous failure mode for metallic structures at high temperatures. It is possible to implement creep laws within finite elements programs. The time-dependent behaviour of the component can be estimated in this way. Again, computational time has to be considered since this is very long.

A. Lietzmann et al. / Chemical Engineering and Processing 35 (I996) 287-293


11 10
~, l , " , - - a
I I I . . . . . . . .

I I I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I I .a . I I I

. I i


n a ~,
V. V V J "i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I ",, n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

, t--

9 8

1. / .LJ -. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . t- . . . . . . . .

: - - b Ii N / ) , I
I I I" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ~ Ill. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . AI-I1 I . . . . . .~ ........... I,_. . . . . . . . . . . . I

5 .............................
I t c I ~. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

T / D = 0.025 . . . . . . ~. . . . . . . . -'%-. . . . -~ .......

I I I I , a. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4 3


I I I. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


0.4 d/D 0.6



Fig. 6. Stress concentration factors (S.C.F.) for the knuckle of torisphericaI ends with a centred nozzle submitted to internal pressure loading (t/T= 1.0).

Appendix A: Nomenclature
D d K m, n P S S.C.F. T
t /)

mean diameter of the dished end, mm mean diameter of the nozzle, mm factor for Norton-Bailey's creep law exponents for Norton-Bailey's creep law internal pressure, N mm -2 safety factor stress concentration factor wall thickness of the dished end, mm wall thickness of the nozzle, mm weld factor factor for design against gross plastic deformation strain rate, % h-1 maximum linear (equivalent) stress, N

[5] [6]

[7] [8]

[9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

G m a x


nominal stress, N mm -2


yield stress (elastic limit), N mm -2 time, h



[1] AD-Regelwerk, Carl Heymanns Verlag KG, K61n, 1991. [2] BS 5500, Specification for w f r e d fusion welded pressure vessels, British Standards Institution, London, 1991. [3] CODAP, Syndicat National de la Chaudronnerie, de la T61erie et de Ia Tuyauterie Industrielle, Paris, I990. [4] ASME Code, Section VIII, Division 1 and Section III, Division [16]


1, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Washington, DC, ANSYS User's Manual for Revision 5.0, Swanson Analysis Systems, Houston, TX, 1994, Volumes I-IV. S. Schwaigerer, Festigkeitsberechnung yon Bauelementen des Dampfkessel-Behiiher- und Rohrleitungsbaues, Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York, 1970. AD-Merkblatt B3, Gew61bte B6den unter innerem und/iul3erem Oberdruck, January 1969 edition. W. Weil3, A. Lietzmann and J. Rudolph, Elastische und elastisch-plastische Festigkeitsanalysen gew61bter B6den mit und ohne Stutzen im Krempenbereich, VGB-Kraftwerksteehnik, June 1995, 549-553 M. Eglinger, Statische Berechnung yon KesselbSden, SpringerVerlag, Berlin, 1952. W. Rust, Thermal ratcheting, I2th CAD-FEM Users Meeting, Miesbach, 1994. H. Heinrich, Warmfeste StS.hle in Kraftwerken, Ingenieur-Wet'kstoffe, 3 (1991) 55-59. B. Ilschner, Werkstoffwissenschaften, Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York, I982. K.H. Kloos, J. Granacher and M. Maier, Zeitstandverhalten einiger fortschrittlicher Schaufelwerkstoffe ftir Industriegasturbinen, Mat.-wiss. Werkstofftech, 25 (1994) 273-283. K. Schneider, Festigkeit und Verformung bei hoher Temperatur, Deutsche Gesellscbaft ftir MetalIkunde e. V. Information> gesellschaft Verlag, 1989. S. Sheng, Anwendung der Festigkeitshypothesen im Kriechbereich bei mehrachsigen Spannungs-Forrn~inderungszusNinden, Thesis, Staatliche Materialprfifungsanstalt (MPA), Universit~.t Stuttgart, 1992. H. Schindler, Einflu3 tier Unrundheit auf das Tragf~ihigkeitsverhalten yon Rohren und Rohrb6gen unter Innendruck, 3R International, 33 (1994) 670-675. E. Wei3 and J. Rudolph, Finite element analyses concerning the fatigue strength of nozzle-to-spherical shell intersections, Int. J. Press. Vessels Piping, 64 (1995) I01-I09.