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Basics for Fatigue Analysis of Piping

System using Caesar II


Fatigue is the progressive and localized structural damage that occurs when a material is
subjected to cyclic loading. Continued cycling of high stress concentrations may eventually
cause a crack which propagates and results in leakages. This failure mechanism is called
fatigue. Damage once done during the fatigue process is cumulative and normally
Fatigue can be grouped in two classes; High cycle fatigue and low cycle fatigue.
High cycle fatigue involves little or no plastic action. Therefore, it is stress-governed.
Normally, a fatigue curve (also called the S–N curve) is generated for every material by
experimental tests which correlates applied stress with the number of cycles to cause failure.
For high-cycle fatigue, the analysis is performed to determine the endurance limit, which is
actually a stress level that can be applied for an infinite number of times without showing any
failure. As a general rule no of cycles 10^5 is considered as demarcation point for high and
low cycle fatigue.

The loading cycles applied in piping design are normally very few in the order of a few
thousands. This type of fatigue is identified as low-cycle fatigue. For low-cycle fatigue, the
applied stress normally exceeds the yield strength of the material, which causes plastic
instability in the specimen under test. But when strain is used as the controlled variable, the
results in low-cycle region are reliable as well as reproducible.
Sources of Fatigue:
For Piping system, Cyclic loadings are primarily due to:

 Thermal Expansion & Contraction

 Vibration due to Occasional loading
 Pressure variation within Piping system
 Motion wave.
 Due to Flow induced Vibration

The fatigue process is divided into three stages: crack initiation from the continued cycling of
high stress concentrations, crack propagation to critical size, and unstable rupture of the
Factors Affecting the Fatigue Behavior:
The factors which affect the fatigue behaviour are listed below:

 Type and Nature of Loading.

 Size of Component and stress or strain Distribution.
 Surface finish and Directional Properties.
 Stress or Strain Concentration.
 Mean stress or Strain.
 Environmental Effects.
 Metallurgical Factors and Material Properties.
 Strain Rate and Frequency Effects.

Characteristics of Low Cycle Fatigue:

 Characterized by high loads and a small no. of cycles before failure.

 Here failure occurs only with stress levels in the plastic range, i.e. significant plastic
strain occurs during each cycle.
 The stresses which cause fatigue failure in the piping are the peak stresses.
 In piping design, most of the loading cycles encountered would be of the low cycle

Characteristics of High Cycle Fatigue:

 Characterized by high no. of cycles (Preferable N>10^4) with relatively low stress
levels and the deformation is in elastic range.
 This type of fatigue failure used in the design of rotating machinery.
 This type of fatigue results from strain cycles in the elastic range.
 A stress level, endurance limit, may be applied an infinite times without failure, is

Failure Criteria:
While preparing fatigue curves, the strains obtained in the tests are multiplied by one-half of
the elastic modulus to obtain pseudo stress amplitude. This pseudo stress is directly compared
with the stresses calculated on the assumption of elastic behavior of piping. During piping
stress analysis, a stress called the alternating stress (Salt) is used which is defined as one-half
of the calculated peak stress. Fatigue failure can be prevented by ensuring that the number of
load cycles (N) associated with a specific alternating stress is less than the number allowed in
the S–N curve or endurance curve. But in practical service conditions a piping system is
subjected to alternating stresses of different magnitudes. These changes in magnitudes make
the direct use of the fatigue curves inapplicable since the curves are based on constant-stress
Fatigue tests of metallic materials and structures have provided the following main clues to
the basic nature of fatigue:

 Fatigue failure, or cracking under repeated stress much lower than the ultimate tensile
strength, is shown in most metals and alloys that exhibit some ductility in static tests.
The magnitude of the applied alternating stress range is the controlling fatigue life
 Failure depends upon the number of repetitions of a given range of stress rather than
the total time under load. The speed of loading is a factor of secondary importance,
except at elevated temperatures.
 Some metals, including ferrous alloys, have a safe range of stress. Below this stress,
called the “endurance limit or fatigue limit”, failure does not occur irrespective of the
number of stress cycles.
 Notches, grooves, or other discontinuities of section greatly decrease the stress
amplitude that can be sustained for a given number of cycles.
 The range of stress necessary to produce failure in a fixed number of cycles usually
decrease as the mean tension stress of the loading cycle is increased.
 Examination of fatigue fracture shows evidence of microscopic deformation, ever in
the apparently brittle region of origin and propagates of the crack. The plastic
deformation that accompanies a spreading fatigue crack is usually limited in extent to
regions very near the crack.

Therefore, to make fatigue curves applicable for piping, some alternate approach is
One hypothesis asserts that the damage fraction of any stress level S, is linearly proportional
to the Ratio of the number of cycles of operation at the stress level to the total number of
cycles that would
produce failure at that stress level. This means that failure is predicted to occur if
U≥1.0 where U= Usage factor = ∑(ni/Ni) for all stress levels
Where, ni= number of cycles operating at stress level i
Ni= number of cycles to failure at stress level i as per material fatigue curve.
Analysis Requirement:
If there are two or more types of stress cycles which produce significant stresses, their
cumulative effect shall be evaluated as stipulated in Steps 1 through 6 below:

1. Designate the specified number of times each type of stress cycle of types 1,2,3,…,n,
will be Repeated during the life of the component as n1, n2, n3,……., nn,
respectively. In determining n1, n2, n3,……., nn, consideration shall be given to the
superposition of cycles of various origins which produce the greatest total alternating
stress range. For example , if one type of stress cycle produce 1000 cycles of a stress
variation from zero to +60,000 psi and another type of stress cycle produces 10,000
cycles of a stress variation from zero to -50,000 psi, the two cycles to be considered
are shown below:

 cycle type 1: n1=1000 and Salt1= (60000+50000)/2

 cycle type 2: n2=9000 and Salt2= (0+50000)/2
 For each type of stress cycle, determine the alternating stress intensity Salt, which for
our application is one half of the range between the expansion stress cycles (as shown
above). These alternating stress intensities are designated as Salt1, Salt2, Saltn.
 On the applicable design fatigue curve find the permissible number of cycles for each
Salt computed. These are designated as N1, N2, …….Nn.
 For each stress cycle calculate the usage factor U1, U2, …….Un where U1= n1/N1,
U2= n2/N2,……..Un=nn/Nn.
 Calculate the cumulative usage factor U as U=U1+U2+…….+Un.
 The cumulative usage factor shall not exceed 1.0

Step by Step Method of Fatigue Analysis of

a Piping System Using Caesar II
September 19, 2018 2 Comments

In my last article on Fatigue Analysis I had explained the basics required for performing
fatigue analysis of piping systems. Click here to refresh yourself once again before
proceeding further. This article will explain the step by step methodology of actual analysis
steps which need to be followed during fatigue analysis using Caesar II. Before I start the
analysis steps, a short description of typical fatigue curves are required from where we have
to take the allowable limit for fatigue analysis.

Fatigue Curve:

Plot of Cyclic Stress capacity of a material is called fatigue curve, also known as S-N curve.
ASME Section VIII Div 2 Provide fatigue curve for various material.

Fatigue design curves are generated from test data by applying large safety margins to the
average property curve.
While considering material fatigue in design, an additional safety margin is often applied
against the cycles-to-failure at a given stress amplitude. As an example, if a component is
cycled continuously over the same stress range (Any constant stress range), a design limit on
allowable (permitted) cycles may correspond to the cycle life multiplied by a factor (safety
margin) such as 0.8. This is the common safety margin employed in vessel and piping design.
For every material, a fatigue curve is normally generated by experimental analysis which
correlates peak stress range with the number of cycles to failure.
The alternating stress Sa is defined as one-half of the calculated peak stress.
As already mentioned in my last article that fatigue failure may be prevented by ensuring that
the number of load cycles N that the system experiences are fewer (lower) than the number
permitted for the alternating stress developed.
The cumulative effect shall be evaluated in case if there are two or more types of stress cycles
which produce significant stresses. The material fatigue resistance at a given applied stress or
strain range is a function of a number of factors, including material strength and ductility.
When to perform Fatigue Analysis:

Normally the fatigue analysis is performed for existing plants to evaluate actual cause for any
failure. For new plants the analysis can be performed only if the project specification permits
to do so. Refer project guidelines on the application requirement for fatigue analysis. Before
starting the analysis be ready with following data which will be required during analysis:

 Fatigue Curve of the piping material

 Enough process data for finding the total number of cycles throughout the design life
of the piping system.

Steps for Fatigue Analysis using Caesar II:

 Assigning the fatigue curve data to the Piping Material in use: This is done on
the Allowable auxiliary screen. Fatigue data may be entered directly, or can be read
from a text file by clicking the Fatigue Curves Button. Seven commonly used curves
are available in \Caesar\System\*.Fat. (For Caesar version 2012, 2013 &2014 you
may not find it in few computers, But these are available in earlier versions) Fatigue
curves provide series of S-N data which define the allowable stress with given
anticipated cycle and vise versa.
 Defining the fatigue load cases: For this purposes, a new stress type, FAT, has been
already defined in Caesar II database. For every fatigue case, the number of
cycles anticipated must also be entered in appropriate space.
 Calculation of the fatigue stresses: Caesar II automatically does this calculation for
us. The fatigue stresses, unless explicitly defined by the applicable code are same as
Caesar II calculated stress intensity (Max Stress Intensity), in order to conform to the
requirement of ASME section VIII, Division 2 Appendix 5.
 Determination of the Fatigue stress allowable: The allowable stresses for fatigue
analysis are required to be interpolated logarithmically from the fatigue curve based
upon the number of cycles (throughout its life) designated in the fatigue load cases.
The calculated stress is assumed to be a peak-to-peak cycle value (i.e., thermal
expansion, settlement, pressure, etc) for static load cases, so the allowable stress can
be extracted directly from fatigue curve. On the other hand for harmonic and dynamic
load cases, the calculated stress is assumed to be a zero–to-peak cycle value (i.e.,
vibration, earthquake, etc), so the extracted allowable need to be divided by 2 prior to
use in the comparison.
 Determination of the allowable number of cycles: The flip side of calculating the
allowable fatigue stress for the designated number of cycles is the calculation of the
allowable number of cycles for the calculated stress level. This is done be
logarithmically interpolating the “Cycles” axis of the fatigue curve based upon the
calculated stress value. Since static stresses are assumed to be peak-to-peak cycle
values, the allowable number of cycles is interpolated directly from the fatigue curve.
Since harmonic and dynamic stresses are assumed to be zero-to-peak cyclic values,
the allowable number of cycles is interpolated using twice the calculated stress value.
 Reporting the analysis results: Caesar II provides two reports for viewing the results
of load cases of stress type FAT; standard stress report and cumulative usage report.
The first of these is the standard stress report for displaying the calculated fatigue
stress and the fatigue allowable at each node. Stress reports could be generated
individually for each load case and show whether any of the individual load cases in
isolation would fail the system or not.

However, in situations where there is more than one cyclic load case potentially contributing
to fatigue failure, the cumulative usage report is more appropriate. In order to generate this
report, the user should select all of the FAT load cases which contributes to the overall
system degradation (possible failure). The cumulative usage report lists for each node point
the usage ratio (actual cycles divided by allowable cycles), and then sums (combines) these
up for total cumulative Usage. A total value greater than 1.0 indicates a potential fatigue
Case Study for Fatigue Analysis in Caesar
II for a typical piping system
December 30, 2018 6 Comments

I have taken up this topic to explain the fatigue analysis (Click here to read the basic article
on Fatigue Analysis) methodology using caesar II with an example problem of a typical
piping system. To perform fatigue analysis we need to calculate the thermal and pressure
fluctuations the piping system will undergo in its design life. We have to calculate the worst
possible cycles from preliminary data provided by process/operation department. Lets assume
we received the following data from process for a typical piping system.

 Operating cycle from ambient (40°C) to 425°C (400,000 cycles anticipated)

 Shutdown external temperature variation from ambient (40°C) to -20°C (300,000
cycles anticipated)
 Pressurization to 5.5 Bars (400,000 cycles anticipated)
 Pressure fluctuations of plus/minus 1.5 Bars from the 5.5 Bars (1,000,000 cycles

Now, in order to do a proper fatigue analysis, these should be grouped in sets of load pairs
which represent the worst-case combination of stress ranges between extreme states which
we can do in the following way (Refer Attached Figure, Fig.1 for proper understanding):

Fig. 1: Explanation of worst case cycle combination for fatigue analysis

 From -20°C, 0 Bars to 425°C, 7 Bars. 300,000 Cycles

 From 40°C, 0 Bars to 425°C, 7 Bars.: 100,000 Cycles
 From 425°C, 4 Bars to 425°C, 7 Bars: 600,000 Cycles
 From 425°C, 4 Bars to 425°C, 5.5 Bars: 400,000 Cycles

So in Caesar II we can define the above data as follows (Refer Fig. 2):
T1= 425°C; T2= -20°C
P1= 5.5 Bar; P2= 4 Bar and P3= 7 Bar
Fig.2: Caesar II spreadsheet explaining the input requirement
Now go to the load case editor and define load cases as shown in Fig.3 for fatigue analysis.
Click on load cycles button to input the number of cycles calculated above.

Fig.3: Load cases for Fatigue Analysis

Don’t forget that all load cases with stress type FAT (for fatigue) must have their expected
number of Load Cycles specified.
After load cases are prepared run the analysis and find out the results from output processor.
Part of the output results are provided in the below attached figures for your reference (Fig. 4
and Fig. 5)
The fatigue stress range (Maximum Stress Intensity as calculated in Expansion stress case)
may be checked against the fatigue curve allowable for each fatigue load case as shown in
Fig 4.

Fig 4: Output Screen showing stress range

However, this is not a true evaluation of the situation, because it is not a case of “either-or.”
The piping system is subjected to all of these load cases throughout its expected design life,
not just one of them. Therefore, we must review the Cumulative Usage report, which shows
the total effect of all fatigue load cases (or any combination selected by the user) on the
design life of the system. Refer Fig 5 for example.

Fig. 5: Output Screen showing Cumulative usage factor

This report lists for each load case the expected number of cycles, the allowable number of
cycles (based upon the calculated stress), and the Usage Ratio (actual cycles divided by
allowable cycles). The Usage Ratios are then summed for all selected load cases; if this sum
exceeds 1.0, the system has exceeded its fatigue capabilities.
Please provide your inputs in comments section.