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Stress Analysis of Column piping system using Caesar II
September 7, 2016

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Columns or Towers, used for distilling raw materials (Crude Oils) are very important equipments in
any process industry . Every process piping industry must have several columns. Lines of various
diameter and properties (Process Parameters) are connected to Columns at different elevations.
Stress analysis of all large bore lines connected to column are required to assess proper supporting
and nozzle loading. Looking to the construction of column, it has number of trays at different
elevation.
Temperature
at
each
tray
location
differs
based
on
process.
In the following article I will try to explain the methodology followed for stress analysis of Column
Piping using Caesar II.
Stress analysis of Column Piping will be discussed in following points: 1. Inputs required for analysis
2. Temperature profile creation for the column/tower 3. Modelling in Caesar II 4. Supporting of
Column Connected piping system and 5. Nozzle load qualification.
1. Inputs required for Analysis: The following data are required while modeling and analysing
column connected lines:
a) Column G.A.drawing with all dimensions, nozzle orientation, materials etc.
b) Column temperature profile.
c) Line Designation Table/ Line list/Line Parameters and P&ID.
d) Column line ISO.
e) Allowable nozzle load table as specified in Project Specification.
2. Temperature profile for Column/Tower: Different organization uses different methods for creating
column temperature profile. Here I will describe two methods which are most widely used.
Temperature profiles for towers are normally created based on connected outlet lines. So in the P&ID
mark the big size (big size means nozzle size which will make consideration impact in temperature
change) column outlet nozzles. Then write down the operating and design temperatures beside those
lines from line list. Lets assume that there are three big size (N1, N2 and N3 as shown in Fig. 1) outlet
nozzles in a typical tower. So temperature profile for that column can be created as shown in Fig. 1.
This method is the most widely used method among prevailing EPC industries.

Fig. 1: Temperature profile creation for a typical tower- Method 1


Again the temperature profile of the above tower can be generated using the method mentioned in
Fig. 2. Many of the organizations use this method too.

Fig. 2: Temperature profile Creation for a typical Column -Method 2


Few organisation uses the operating and design temperatures mentioned in equipment GA as the
equipment operating and design temperature. However the above two methods mentioned will result
in thermal growth close to reality.
3. Modeling the Column/Tower in Caesar II: All equipment modeling are almost similar. Start
modeling the tower from the skirt and go up or start from nozzle of interest and go down till skirt as per
your choice. It is a better practice to use node number such a way that the equipment nodes can
easily be separated from the piping nodes. I personally model equipments starting from node 5000.
Lets start from a typical nozzle flange. So model 5000-5020 as nozzle flange with nozzle diameter
and thickness as mentioned in equipment GA drawing. Sometimes vendor GA may not be available

(during initial phase of the project), so in such situation use engineering drawing as the basis for
modeling. Normally mechanical departments have minimum nozzle thickness chart based on flange
rating and corrosion allowance. Take nozzle thickness from that chart or otherwise assume nozzle
thickness as two size higher than the connected pipe thickness. Use temperatures as mentioned in
the above two diagrams (Fig. 1 or Fig. 2) from flange onwards, pressure, corrosion allowance,
materials, insulation thickness and density etc as mentioned in reference equipment drawing. Then
model 5020 to 10 as pipe element with length from reference drawing (Normally nozzle projection
from equipment centreline in provided, in that case calculate the nozzle length by subtracting the
equipment outside radius and flange length already modelled). Provide Anchor at node 10 with Cnode
at 5040. Providing node number for nozzles as 10, 20 etc will put all this nodes at initial nodes in
restraint summary which helps me in checking nozzle loads very quickly. You can provide separate
nodes if you wish. This completes the nozzle model. Now we will model the equipment.
Model 5040 to 5060 as rigid body with zero weight with length=half of equipment OD, material as
provided in reference drawing, temperature as mentioned the above figures, pressure and other
parameters from reference equipment drawing. This element will take you to the center of the
equipment. From this part onwards simply model the equipment as pipe elements taking temperature
profile as mentioned in the above figures. Check diameter and thickness in reference drawing as
those values sometimes changes as you proceed from top towards skirt. Finally model the skirt as
pipe element with temperatures calculated as mention at the last paragraph of this topic and
pressures, fluid density, corrosion allowance as zero. Provide fixed anchor at bottom of skirt. Refer
Fig. 3 for a sample model of column. Different colors are for different temperatures.

Fig. 3: A simple model of a Tower in Caesar II


4. Supporting of Column Connected Piping System: The pipes are normally supported from
column itself. This type of supports are called cleat supports or clip supports. The first support from

column nozzle is a load taking support which carries the total vertical load of the pipe. Try to place this
load taking support as near to the nozzle as possible. Rest all are guide supports. As the clips are
connected to the tower body we have to model clips from column and connect the supports with a
Cnode to take the thermal effect of that location. The load bearing capacity of the clip supports are
normally standardized by support standard. So sometimes it may appear that the load at first load
taking support is exceeding the clip load bearing capability (This could happen if a very large size line
is connected towards the top of the column, overhead lines) . In those cases we have to take 2nd
support from nozzle as a load taking support as well. This support has to be a Spring hanger support
which will share part of the load of the first load taking support. From that point onwards guide
supports will be used based on standard guide span as specified in project specification. A sample
Caesar II model is shown in Fig 4 for your reference to explain the clip supports. Model the clip as
rigid body with zero weight with equipment properties when inside equipment and with ambient
temperature when outside equipment.

Fig. 4: Caesar II model showing Clip/Cleat Supporting

5. Nozzle Load Qualification: Allowable nozzle loads are normally provided by equipment vendor
and mentioned in general arrangement drawing. Few organization has standard load table based on
nozzle diameter and flange rating. So compare your calculated loads at nozzle anchor point with this
allowabale values to find if calculated loads are acceptable or not. If loads are exceeding the
allowable values modify the supporting or routing to reduce your nozzle loads. In some situation when
routing change is not feasible perform WRC as mentioned in one of my last articles or perform FEA
(Nozzle Pro) to check whether generated stresses are acceptable. In extreme cases send your nozzle
loads to vendor for their acceptance.
Skirt Temperature Calculation:
Calculate skirt temperature following the given equation:
Average Skirt Temperature=(T-Ta)*F+ Ta; in degree centigrade
Here Ta=Ambient Temperature in degree Centigrade; T=Temperature at the top of the skirt; F=[83.6/
{(K*h/t^0.5)+15.5}]; K=insulation constant=1.0 for fire brick insulation=1.6 for non insulated; h and t
are skirt height and thickness respectively.
If you have any confusion please inform in comments section.