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# Stress Analysis of an Elliptical Pressure

By

Jonathan C. Wang

## A Seminar submitted to the Faculty of Rensselaer at Hartford in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the Degree of MASTER of Science.

## Approved by Seminar Advisor, Prof. Ernesto Gutierrez

Rensselaer at Hartford, Hartford, CT
December 8, 2005

List of Figures 3

Abstract 5

1 Introduction 6

2 Theory 7

## 2.1 Axi-Symmetric Pressure Vessels 7

2.2 Non-Circular Pressure Vessels 9
2.2.1 Obround Vessels 10

3 Analysis 12

## 3.1 Overview of Finite Element Theory 12

3.1.1 The Basis 12
3.1.2 The Ritz Method and FEM 12
3.1.3 The Computer Algorithm 13

## 3.2 ANSYS Model Setup & Optimization 14

3.2.1 Hoop Stress Uniformity in the Z-direction 14
3.2.2 Symmetry Conditions 14
3.2.3 Mesh Selection 17

4 Results 20

## 4.1 Obround Pressure Vessel 20

4.2 Elliptical Pressure Vessel 22
4.2.1 Vessels with Wall thickness = .1” 22
4.2.2 Vessels with Wall thickness = .3” 24
4.2.3 Vessels with Wall thickness = .5” 26
4.3 Interpretation of ANSYS Data 28

## 5 Discussion & Conclusions 29

References 31

Appendices
Appendix A: ANSYS Model Parameters 32
Appendix B: Mesh Sensitivity Data 33
Appendix C: Excel Data for Obround Results 34
Appendix D: Excel Data for Ellipse Results 35

2
List of Figures

## Figure 3.2.2.4 1st principal stress contour plot

Figure 3.2.3.1 Hoop stress sensitivity to circumferential mesh density at locations A and D

Figure 3.2.3.2 Hoop stress sensitivity to circumferential mesh density at locations B and C

Figure 3.2.3.3 Hoop stress sensitivity to mesh density through thickness at locations A and D

Figure 3.2.3.4 Hoop stress sensitivity to mesh density through thickness at locations B and C

Figure 3.2.3.5 Mesh applied to ellipse having major axis=20, minor axis=20 and wall
thickness=.3”

## Figure 4.1.4 Hoop stress at location D for an obround pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.1 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location A for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.2 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location B for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.3 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location C for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.4 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location D for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.5 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location A for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

3
Figure 4.2.1.6 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location B for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.7 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location C for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.8 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location D for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.9 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location A for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.10 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location B for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.11 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location C for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.2.1.12 Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location D for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

Figure 4.3.1 1st principal stress plot for an internally pressurized obround vessel

Figure 4.3.2 3rd principal stress plot for an internally pressurized obround vessel

## Figure 5.4 Stress concentration near point C for a high-eccentricity ellipse

4
Abstract
This paper presents the results of a study performed using finite
element analysis to determine the hoop stress in a pressure
vessel of elliptical cross-section. The motivation for the subject
matter is derived from certain applications of gas turbine
engines, where the outer exhaust duct assumes a non-circular
shape. To form a basis for comparison to the ellipse, theoretical
formulations for hoop stress in similar cross-sectional shapes are
first introduced, followed by a review of the finite element
modeling parameters and finally a discussion of the finite
element results performed for the ellipse.

5
1 Introduction
Internally pressurized vessels in use today generally assume two basic shapes: spheres and
cylinders. The reason for this is simply that a sphere will impart the lowest value of membrane
stress on its walls compared to any other shape. (The derivation of the formula for a sphere can
be found in a strength of materials textbook). Hence, for a given volume enclosed, a sphere
represents the most weight-efficient design for a pressure vessel. In many situations, a straight
cylinder is the preferred shape, as it is much more easily produced than a sphere while still
providing a reasonably weight-efficient design. However, there arise situations where neither a
cylindrical or spherical vessel may be best suited to the particular application due to additional
design constraints that must be satisfied. One example of this occurs in the design of aircraft
propulsion systems where the engine is to be packaged within the airframe structure. This type
of arrangement is most commonly seen in the design of military aircraft (as opposed to
commercial aircraft, where the engine is located external to the airframe). Shown below in Figure
1.1 is a sketch of what an engine cavity might look like for a military aircraft. To maintain a low
overall profile for the aircraft, the cavity is significantly oblong-shaped rather than circular.

Engine cavity

## Figure 1.1 Engine installation inside oblong cavity

For military propulsion systems, maximizing thrust is often the foremost performance
requirement, and in general, a greater amount of air mass passing through the engine will result
in a larger amount of thrust produced. Therefore, with respect to the engine cavity shown in Fig.
1.1, it would be desirable to design the engine cross-section to be shaped as an ellipse, rather
than a circle, in order to enclose a greater area.

The above example establishes the motivation for this paper, which is to investigate the stress
imparted on an internally pressurized vessel of elliptical cross-section. As the Analysis and
Results sections of this paper will show, a pressure vessel designed with a non-circular cross-
section will produce significantly higher wall stresses than that of an axi-symmetric (circular)
pressure vessel. To fully appreciate this difference, it is helpful to first understand the principles
of axi-symmetric pressure vessel theory, which will be reviewed at the beginning of this paper.
Following this will be an overview of non-circular pressure vessel theory, as a precursor to the
discussion of the finite element methodology and analysis of various pressure vessel models.
Finally, the results of the finite element analyses for elliptical pressure vessels will be presented in
graphical format for discussion and interpretation.

6
2 Theory
2.1 Axi-symmetric Pressure Vessels
This section provides the derivation of the governing equations
for membrane stress in pressure vessels having circular cross-
section, which includes cylinders and any other shape having a p
revolved axis of symmetry.
σ2
Consider an element of size ds1 by ds2 by thickness t,
a b
extracted from the internally pressurized thin-shelled enclosure σ1
shown in Figure 2.1.1. Note that for computational simplicity, σ1
d c
the chosen element is oriented along the principal (longitudinal
and circumferential) directions of the part, so that only normal σ2
forces act on its sectioned faces.

## Figure 2.1.1 Representative element of an

axi-symmetric pressure vessel

F2 dθ 2
F1 dθ1 2
Flong
Fcirc 2

dθ 2 a
d θ1 b
2
2

## dθ1 ds1 dθ 2 ds2

t p t
p
dθ1 dθ 2
2 2
a d
Fcirc d θ1 Flong dθ 2
2 2
F1 F2
Figure 2.1.2 Circumferential cut-away Figure 2.1.3. Longitudinal cut-away section
section of element abcd of element abcd

By examining the view of the element along side a-b as shown in Figure 2.1.2, the resultant
circumferential force can be evaluated as simply the product of the circumferential stress and the
elemental facial area:
Fcirc = σ 1 × t (ds 2 ) (1)

Moreover, the vector component of this force that directly opposes the applied internal pressure
is:
 dθ  (2)
F1 = Fcirc × sin  1 
 2 

7
where θ1 is the angle subtended by the arc produced by ds1.

Figure 2.1.3 shows a cut-away view of the longitudinal face of the element, and by similar
observation to that of Figure 2.1.2, it is seen that the resultant longitudinal force is simply

## and that the vector component acting opposite the pressure is

 dθ 
F2 = Flong sin  2  (4)
 2 

Considering now the inner surface of the element, as bounded by points a,b,c and d, the resultant
forcing acting outward on the element is simply product of the internal pressure and the surface of
the element. From Figures 2.1.2 and 2.1.3, it can be seen that arc lengths, ds1 and ds2, can be
computed as

 dθ  (5)
ds1 = 2 r1 sin  1 
 2 
 dθ  (6)
ds 2 = 2 r2 sin  2 
 2 
c d
where r1 and r2 are the radii of curvature in the circumferential and
longitudinal directions, respectively, and therefore the force F3 due to b a
internal pressure is

F3 = p (ds1 )(ds 2 ) (7 ) F2
F1 F1
F3
F2
Figure 2.2.4. Equilibrium force balance on
For static equilibrium to prevail on the element, the resultant element abcd
forces from the circumferential and longitudinal membrane
stresses must balance the outward force due to the pressure,
and therefore:

F3 = 2 F1 + 2 F2 (8)

## or, in expanded form

  dθ     dθ   dθ   dθ  (9)
p 2r1 sin  1  2r2 sin  2  = 2σ 1tds2 sin  1  + 2σ 2tds1 sin  2 
  2    2   2   2 

8
Equation 9 can be simplified by observing that

 dθ  ds  dθ  ds (10,11)
sin  1  = 1 sin  2  = 2
 2  2r1  2  2r2

## which results in the final form of the pressure vessel equation.

σ1 σ2 p
+ = (12)
r1 r2 t

In the case of an exhaust duct for a gas turbine engine, the pressure vessel is an air conduit and
is therefore free of end restraints. Hence σ1=0, since no longitudinal stress would be induced.
With this simplification, only the circumferential stress remains, and Eq. 12 reduces to:

σ2 p
= (13)
r2 t

pr2
σ2 = (14)
t

## 2.2 Non-circular pressure vessels

At first glance, deriving the governing equation for hoop stress in a non-circular vessel may
appear to be a straightforward application of Eq. 14, whereby the constant value, r2, would be
replaced by the variable value for the local radius of curvature for the non-circular shape.
Furthermore, in the case of an ellipse, since both its algebraic curve equation and the equation
for the radius of curvature can be expressed in Cartesian coordinates, it would even be possible
to modify Eq. 14 to directly calculate the value of hoop stress, σ2, as a function of a given x-y
position on the curve, thus bypassing the intermediate calculation for the radius of curvature.

The above reasoning, however, is an improper extrapolation of Eq. 14. The error would become
apparent upon performing a finite element analysis (FEA) on the geometry. However, without
resorting to FEA, the logical flaw can be found by noting that for an ellipse (or any non-circular
geometry), the internal pressure induces a bending moment on the wall, which is only absent
from the circle due to its uniformity of curvature. In other words, rather than regarding the ellipse
as an extension of the theory for a circle, it is the circle that is regarded as a contraction of the
theory for an ellipse, whereby the component of hoop stress due to bending is zero as result of
having constant curvature.

Physically, the presence of bending can be accepted by considering the extreme case of a high
eccentricity ellipse under internal pressurize and recognizing that the deformed shape would not
be uniformly expanded, since the “flatter” regions would undergo much larger deflection than the
“corner” regions. From beam theory, it is clear a bending moment would produce an additional
circumferential stress on the pressure vessel, and therefore the total hoop stress for a non-
circular pressure vessel would the sum of the stress due to bending and the surface membrane
stress due to internal pressure.

9
Having identified the behavioral differences between circular and non-circular pressure vessels, it
should be noted that research into analytical methods for calculating hoop stress in non-circular
pressure vessels has been very limited to date. In the latest (2004) edition of the ASME Boiler
and Pressure Vessel Code , only two non-circular geometries, rectangles and obrounds, are
cited. However, due to the geometric similarity to an ellipse, it is useful to examine the obround
geometry in further detail, as one would expect the magnitude of hoop stress to be comparable to
that of an ellipse of equivalent eccentricity.

## 2.2.1 Obround Vessels t

As mentioned in the preceding t B
general discussion of non-circular
vessels, the hoop stress in an A
obround is comprised of a shape- R p
dependent bending component C D
superimposed on the pressure-
induced membrane component. A
representative obround shape is
shown in Figure 2.2.1.1, and the
corresponding stress components at
the noted critical points are as L2 L2
follows:
Figure 2.2.1.1. Obround vessel with applied
Membrane Stress (σm) internal pressure, P

t

t

6 AI

## Locations C,D: (σ b )C ,D = ± * PL2 c 3(L2 + 2 R ) − C1  (18)

6I  A

t3  L2 2 
C1 = L2 (2 + 3π ) + 12 R A = 2  + πR
2
I= 2

12  R 
where
t
c= ≡ dist . from neutral axis to outer surface
2

## *one side will be in compression, the other in tension

10
Total Hoop Stress (σT):

## Locations C,D: (σ T )C ,D = (σ m )C ,D + (σ b )C ,D (20)

11
3 Analysis
3.1 Overview of Finite Element Theory

The Finite Element Method (FEM) is a technique that is currently used to solve engineering
problems in a variety of fields such as solid mechanics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer.
The acceptance and growth of FEM has occurred almost concurrently with advancements in
computer technology and processing power in the recent decades, which has enabled the
solutions to increasingly complex problems to be analyzed and solved within a reasonable
timeframe. However, FEM was first developed as a tool for evaluating linear elastic solids,
which is the type of the problem being discussed in this paper. Therefore, the following
subsections will provide an explanation of FEM as it pertains to this fundamental application.

## 3.1.1 The Basis

To solve a problem involving the deformation of linear elastic solids, generally the most
common approach is that which is first introduced in an undergraduate Strength of Materials
course. This method involves defining the three basic types of field equations—equilibrium,
constitutive (stress-strain), and compatibility (strain-displacement)—and solving for the
unknowns after appropriate substitutions have been made. The second method involves the
application of energy principles, which equates the state of equilibrium to the condition of
having minimum potential energy. A simple example of this is that of a ball being at rest at
the lowest point (or “valley”) of an uneven terrain. It is this fundamental concept that forms
the basis of the solution criteria of FEM.

## In mathematical terms, the energy principle is often stated as follows,

∏ = U −W ( 21)
where the potential energy, Π, is defined as the internal energy (U) minus the external work
(W) performed on the system.

In FEM, the problem is expressed as the variational form of the above energy equation. The
variational form is analogous to expressing a function in differential form. Thus, in Eq. (21),
given that U and W have been properly expressed as functions of the unknown displacement,
u, a state of minimum potential energy exists only when an infinitesimal change in u will yield
no corresponding change in Π.

## 3.1.2 The Ritz Method and FEM

To obtain a solution for δΠ=0, classical methods for solving differential equations can be
used, or alternatively, approximate methods can be invoked. In the case of FEM and its
reliance on computers in practice, approximate methods tend to be the preferred approach.
One such approximate method, called the Ritz method, involves estimating the form of the
solution for u (assuming an appropriate expression of Eq. 21 as a function of u has first been
developed). The general form of this estimate is expressed as

u ( x ) = ∑ a kψ k ( x ) ( 22 )
k

12
where ψ is a function that must satisfy the principal boundary conditions of the problem and
ak are the unknown coefficients. Next, the partial derivatives of Π are taken with respect to
each of the coefficients

∂∏ ∂∏ ∂∏
= 0, = 0..... = 0.
∂a1 ∂a 2 ∂a k

This sets up a system of simultaneous algebraic equations that can be solved for ak to
determine the value of the displacement, and subsequently the value of stress if desired.

FEM essentially follows the same logic as the Ritz method, but introduces the notion of
discretization, where the solid body is considered as an assemblage of distinct sub-
geometries (or elements), that are user-specified with respect to size and shape. The
elements are interconnected by nodes, and similar to the Ritz method, the individual nodal
displacements—and hence the displacement of the overall structure—can be obtained by
solving the systems of algebraic equations resulting from the partial derivatives as follows,

∂∏ ∂∏ ∂∏
= 0, = 0..... =0
∂u1 ∂u 2 ∂u i

## 3.1.3 The Computer Algorithm

A common approach to linear algebraic systems of equations is to directly solve for the
unknown variables through substitution and elimination. There are a number of methods that
fall under this category such as the Gaussian Elimination, Choleski and Givens Factorization
methods. However, within the context of FEM, one must consider that a body can easily
consist of thousands of nodes, depending on the desired level of accuracy (with a greater
number of nodes resulting in a more accurate solution) and the geometric complexity of the
body. Likewise, the number of operations required to obtain the overall solution would also
be of the same order. Because computers can only store a finite number of decimal places
for each variable, a computer solution obtained using the direct approach could yield
significantly erroneous results simply due to round-off error magnified over the course of
thousands of sequential calculations.

Therefore, to avoid this potential pitfall, software designed for FEM utilizes an indirect,
iterative approach to converge to a solution of the systems of equations. The procedure
begins with an initial “guess” for a solution. With each subsequent iteration, a better
approximation results—assuming that each successive approximation satisfies the
established criteria for convergence—and convergence to a solution is attained after a finite
number of iterations. This algorithm for solving simultaneous algebraic equations represents
the final step in the basic sequence of logic that comprises the Finite Element Method. The
following sections will now discuss the preparation of ANSYS finite element models, which
were generated for both obround and elliptical pressure vessel geometries, and whose stress
results will be the topic of Section 4.

13
3.2 ANSYS Model Setup & Optimization
The selected parameters used in the construction of all ANSYS finite element models for this
project are provided in Appendix A. However, prior to utilizing the stress data obtained from
these models, it was first necessary to first verify that the chosen modeling and meshing
procedure was sound. Below is a summary of a number of checks that were performed, to
ensure that the stress values obtained from ANSYS were legitimate and not the result of improper
setup of the finite element model.

## 3.2.1 Hoop stress uniformity in the Z-direction

Due to the sheer number of finite element models that were required for data collection, it was
desirable to make exclusive use of 2D models for the analyses. In order to justify this
simplification, a number of 3D elliptical models were generated, meshed, and loaded with internal
pressure. Figure 3.2.1.2 below shows a plot of the 1st principal stress (hoop tensile stress) for
one of these test models, demonstrating that the hoop stress does not vary in the lengthwise
direction.

elements

## 3.2.2 Symmetry conditions

For additional modeling efficiency, symmetry conditions were applied along the x and y axes, to
reduce the complexity of the model from a full hoop to a single quadrant. As shown in Figure
3.2.2.1, appropriate boundary conditions were placed along the lines of symmetry to correctly
constrain the model. A comparison of the stress values between the full hoop model and quarter
model shows very good correlation.

14
Ux=0

Uy=0

## Figure 3.2.2.2. 1st principal stress contour plot

15
Figure 3.2.2.3. 2D full hoop mesh using Plane 82 elements

## Figure 3.2.2.4. 1st principal stress contour plot

16
3.2.3 Mesh Selection

To determine the mesh size required to obtain an accurate stress plot, several models were run
with varying mesh density. The first series of trials involved varying the number of elements
along the circumference, with the number of elements through the wall thickness held constant,
and the results of this are shown in Figures 3.2.3.1 and 3.2.3.2, where the degrees of freedom
(DOF) plotted on the x-axis represents the number of nodal points present on the curve surface.
The second series involved varying the number of elements through the wall thickness, with the
number of circumferential elements held constant, and those results are shown in Figures 3.2.3.3
and 3.2.3.4. The model used to generate these plots was an ellipse having major axis=20, minor
axis=19.9, and wall thickness=.1”, with an applied internal pressure of 20 psi.

A
Hoop Stress vs Circumferential DOF

-990 C
-1000 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
Stress(psi)

-1010
-1020
-1030
-1040
-1050
Degress of Freedom
Stress at A Stress at D

Figure 3.2.3.1. Hoop stress sensitivity to circumferential mesh density at locations A and D

B
A
C D

## Hoop stress vs. Circumferential DOF

5040
5020
Stress (psi)

5000
4980
4960
4940
4920
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
Degrees of Freedom

Stress at B Stress at C

Figure 3.2.3.2. Hoop stress sensitivity to circumferential mesh density at locations B and C

17
Hoop Stress vs DOF Through Thickness

-990
0 5 10 15 20 25
-995

Stress (psi)
-1000

-1005

-1010

-1015
Degrees of Freedom

Stress at A Stress at D

Figure 3.2.3.3. Hoop stress sensitivity to mesh density through thickness at locations A and D

B
A
C D

## Hoop stress vs DOF Through Thickness

4990
4980
4970
Stress (psi)

4960
4950
4940
4930
4920
0 5 10 15 20 25
Degrees of Freedom

Stress at B Stress at C

Figure 3.2.3.4. Hoop stress sensitivity to mesh density through thickness at locations B and C

In the circumferential direction, the data from Figures 3.2.3.1 and 3.2.3.2 suggests that stability is
attained at approximately 150-200 DOF. Through the thickness, the data from Figures 3.2.3.3
and 3.2.3.4 suggests that about 9 DOF is sufficient. Based on these trials, the number of
circumferential and radial DOF selected all finite element models used to generate data for the
Results section was 801 (400 element divisions) and 13 (6 element divisions), respectively. They
were purposely chosen to be somewhat higher than the perceived stability threshold as an added
measure of safety, to account for possible variation when applied to ellipse models having
different eccentricity. Figure 3.2.3.5 below shows how the chosen mesh size would appear on an
ellipse of eccentricity=2 and wall thickness=0.3.”

18
Figure 3.2.3.5. Mesh applied to ellipse having major axis=20, minor axis=20 and wall thickness=.3”

19
4 Results

## 4.1 Obround Pressure Vessel

To further test the fidelity of the ANSYS modeling methodology discussed in the preceding
section, a series of finite element models was run using the obround pressure vessel geometry,
for the purpose of comparing the resulting magnitudes of hoop stress to their predicted values, as
stated earlier in Eqn’s (19) and (20). A range of aspect ratios was examined, and results are
shown below in Figures 4.1.1-4.1.4 at the 4 critical points labeled in Figure 6. The raw data
corresponding to these plots can be found in Appendix C.

## Obround: Hoop Stress at A

50000
0
-50000 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Stress (psi)

-100000
-150000
-200000
-250000
-300000
Aspect Ratio

## Figure 4.1.1. Hoop stress at location A for an obround pressure vessel

Total width 2 L2 + 2 R + 2t
Aspect Ratio ≡ = (see Fig. 2.2.1.1)
Total height 2 R + 2t

300000
250000
Stress (psi)

200000
150000
100000
50000
0
0 2 4 6 8 10
Aspect Ratio

## Figure 4.1.2. Hoop stress at location B for an obround pressure vessel

20
Obround: Hoop Stress at C

400000
350000
Stress (psi) 300000
250000
200000
150000
100000
50000
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Aspect Ratio

## Obround: Hoop Stress at D

50000
0
-50000 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
-100000
stress

-150000
-200000
-250000
-300000
-350000
-400000
Aspect Ratio

## Figure 4.1.4. Hoop stress at location D for an obround pressure vessel

Overall, the plots show good correlation between the predicted values for hoop stress and those
generated by the ANSYS model, which further substantiates the ANSYS modeling rationale
outlined in the preceding section and suggests that an elliptical model generated in the same
manner would yield fairly accurate results.

21
4.2 Elliptical Pressure Vessel
For the case of an ellipse, the hoop stress at four critical surface points was examined relative to
eccentricity and varying wall thickness. The resulting data obtained from ANSYS is shown below
in Figures 4.2.1.1-4.2.1.12. (See Appendix D for raw data)

## 4.2.1 Vessels with Wall Thickness = .1”

Hoop Stress at A

50000

0
0 2 4 6 8 10
-50000
Stress (psi)

-100000

-150000 B
A
-200000 C D
-250000
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.1. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location A for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

B
A
C D

Hoop stress at B

250000

200000
Stress (psi)

150000

100000

50000

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.2. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location B for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

22
Hoop Stress at C

600000

500000

400000
Stress (psi)

300000

200000

100000

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.3. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location C for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

B
A
C D

Hoop Stress at D

50000
0
-50000 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
-100000
Stress (psi)

-150000
-200000
-250000
-300000
-350000
-400000
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.4. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location D for a .1” thick elliptical pressure vessel

23
4.2.2 Vessels with Wall Thickness = .3”

Hoop Stress at A

5000

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
-5000
Stress (psi)

-10000

-15000

-20000

-25000
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.5. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location A for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

B
A
C D

Hoop stress at B

25000

20000
Stress (psi)

15000

10000

5000

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.6. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location B for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

24
Hoop Stress at C

140000

120000

100000
Stress (psi)

80000

60000

40000

20000

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.7. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location C for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

B
A
C D

Hoop Stress at D

5000
0
-5000 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Stress (psi)

-10000
-15000
-20000
-25000
-30000
-35000
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.8. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location D for a .3” thick elliptical pressure vessel

25
Vessels with Wall Thickness = .5”

Hoop Stress at A

1000
0
-1000 0 2 4 6 8 10

-2000
Stress (psi)

-3000
-4000
-5000
-6000
-7000
-8000
-9000
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.9. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location A for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

B
A
C D

Hoop stress at B

9000
8000
7000
6000
Stress (psi)

5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
0
0 2 4 6 8 10
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.10. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location B for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

26
Hoop Stress at C

50000
45000
40000
35000
Stress (psi)

30000
25000
20000
15000
10000
5000
0
0 2 4 6 8 10
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.11. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location C for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

B
A
C D

Hoop Stress at D

2000

0
0 2 4 6 8 10
-2000
Stress (psi)

-4000

-6000

-8000

-10000

-12000
Eccentricity

Figure 4.2.1.12. Hoop stress vs Eccentricity at location D for a .5” thick elliptical pressure vessel

27
4.3 Interpretation of ANSYS data
To determine the maximum value of hoop stress at each location (A,B,C,D) from the ANSYS
model, both the 1st principal stress and 3rd principal stress contour plots had to be examined, due
the fact that a large compressive hoop stress would be regarded as the numerically lowest stress
(and hence assigned to the 3rd principal stress) because of the negative sign. An example of this
is illustrated in Figures 4.3.1 and 4.3.2 below, which show plots of the 1st and 3rd principal
stresses, respectively, for an obround vessel. The hoop stress at C corresponds to the 1st
principal stress value, as shown by Figure 4,3,1. However, the hoop stress at D is found under
the 3rd principal stress because it is compressive. It is clearly not 0, as indicated by Figure 4.3.1.

C D

Figure 4.3.1. 1st principal stress plot for an internally pressurized obround vessel

C D

## Therefore, the data in Figures 18-33 represents….

Figure 4.3.2. 3rd principal stress plot for an internally pressurized obround vessel.

Therefore, the data points appearing in Figures 4.1.1-4.2.1.12 represent a combination of 1st and
3rd principal stress values due to the manner in which principal stresses are ordered. From this, it
follows that whenever both tensile and compressive stresses are present, an accurate portrayal
of hoop stress can only be obtained by superposition of the 1st and 3rd principal stress plots.

28
5 Discussion & Conclusions
From the data plots, several useful observations can be made. In comparing the plots for a .1”
thick obround (Figs. 4.1.1-4.1.4) to that of an “equivalent” ellipse (Figs. 4.2.1.1-4.2.1.4), the
curves are very similar in shape and the stress values are comparable in magnitude. This
strongly suggests that the same underlying physical mechanisms that govern the obround hoop
stress equations (Eq. 19-20) are present in the ellipse as well.

Further evidence of this can be seen by examining the sensitivity of hoop stress to wall thickness,
such as by comparing the plots of Figures 4.2.1.1, 4.2.1.5 and 4.2.1.9. By noting the relative
stress magnitudes, it is apparent that the relationship is highly non-linear. Following the rationale
of an obround vessel, the non-linearity could be explained by noting that for smaller wall
thicknesses, the hoop stress is dominated by bending, which is exponentially sensitive to the wall
thickness due to the moment of inertia term (I) found in Equations 17 and 18.

In comparing the stress curves for the ellipse over the range of thicknesses evaluated, there is
some shape dissimilarity in the curves for locations C and D. At D, the hoop stress seems to
attenuate more rapidly for higher eccentricities with increasing wall thickness. Rather than being
an indication that the magnitude of maximum compressive stress on the outer surface of the
ellipse actually decreases above a certain eccentricity, this is more likely the result of the location
of the peak stress shifting away from D for higher eccentricities. This is illustrated below in
Figures 5.1-5.3. Note that the magnitude of maximum compressive stress increases with
eccentricity.

Max compressive
stress location Max compressive
stress location

Figure 5.1. Location of max compressive stress for ellipse Figure 5.2. Location of max compressive stress for ellipse
of eccentricity=1.33 of eccentricity=4

Max compressive
stress location

## Figure 5.3. Location of max compressive stress for ellipse

of eccentricity=6.66
29
At location C, Figures 4.2.1.7 and 4.2.1.11 show some graphical instability at higher
eccentricities. From the ANSYS stress corresponding to these apparent outlying points, it is seen
that the stress distribution is very narrow, except near point C, where the bands converge and the
stress concentrates (see Figure 5.4). This much resembles a crack initiation site, and the true
value of stress may be indiscernible due to its highly localized nature. Therefore, although the
points plotted represent actual data obtained from ANSYS, this is an area that may benefit from

## Figure 5.4. Stress concentration near point C for a high-eccentricity ellipse

In summary, the results of this study have shown that the an internally pressurized ellipse will
exhibit significantly higher hoop stresses than that of an equivalently sized circle due its the non-
uniformity in curvature, which induces additional bending stresses. From the results obtained
from ANSYS, the net effect appears similar to that of an obround pressure vessel, for which some
prior analytical work has been performed. From an engineering standpoint, the consequence of
having to accommodate higher stresses is often a heavier and costlier design due to the need for
material reinforcement in the high stress areas. However, as stated in the opening of this paper,
there are situations where these drawbacks can be tolerated, because the perceived benefits of
utilizing a non-circular design more than adequately compensate for them.

30
References

##  American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Mandatory Appendix

13: Vessels of Noncircular Cross Section, from the ASME Boiler &
Pressure Vessel Code, ASME International, 2004.

 Barkanov, E., Introduction to the Finite Element Method, Riga Technical
University, 2001.

 Harvey, J., Theory and Design of Modern Pressure Vessels, 2nd Ed., Van
Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1974.

##  Harvey, J., Pressure Component Construction: Design and Materials

Application, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1980

 Mubeezi, J., Finite Element Analysis (FEA) method, and its Application in
Evaluating Stress-Strain Characteristics, Rensselaer at Hartford
Engineering Seminar, 2004.

31
Appendix A: ANSYS Model Parameters

The parameters apply to all ANSYS models used to generate data in Section 4

## Type of analysis: Linear Elastic

Element type: Plane 82
Material Properties: E=1.5x107 psi, ν=.33
Number of circumferential element divisions – N=400
Number of element divisions through wall thickness – N=6
Internal pressure applied: 20 psi

Model geometry:

Obround –

. 1"

20”

Ellipse –

## From 2.5” to 20”

20”

32
Appendix B: Mesh Sensitivity Data

The following is the raw data for the plots found in Section 3.2.3:

## Major Minor Stress at Stress at Stress at Stress at Circ

Axis Axis D B C A DOF
20 19.9 -1042.8 4982.1 5020.8 -1024.5 17
20 19.9 -1028.4 4961 4999.1 -1010.8 23
20 19.9 -1020.6 4948.6 4986.7 -1002.8 33
20 19.9 -1017.2 4943.2 4981 -999.58 43
20 19.9 -1013.8 4938.2 4975.4 -996.6 65
20 19.9 -1012.8 4936.7 4973.8 -995.66 81
20 19.9 -1012.1 4935.5 4972.6 -994.93 107
20 19.9 -1011.5 4934.6 4971.7 -994.38 159
20 19.9 -1011.2 4934.1 4971.2 -994.04 315
20 19.9 -1011.1 4934 4971.2 -993.98 449
20 19.9 -1011.1 4934 4971.1 -993.95 629
20 19.9 -1011.1 4933.9 4971.1 -993.94 1047

## Major Minor Stress at Stress at Stress at Stress at Dof thru

Axis Axis D B C A thk
20 19.9 -1011.1 4934 4971 -993.94 3
20 19.9 -1003.5 4926 4978.7 -1001.4 5
20 19.9 -1002.1 4925.2 4980 -1002.8 7
20 19.9 -1001.6 4924.5 4981 -1003.2 9
20 19.9 -1001.4 4924.4 4981 -1003.5 11
20 19.9 -1001.3 4924.3 4981.1 -1003.6 13
20 19.9 -1001.2 4924.3 4981.1 -1003.7 15
20 19.9 -1001.1 4924.3 4981.1 -1003.8 17
20 19.9 -1001.1 4924.2 4981.2 -1003.8 19
20 19.9 -1001.1 4924.2 4981.2 -1003.8 21

33
Appendix C: Data for Obround Pressure Vessel Results

The following is the raw data for the plots found in Section 4.1:

## Predicted Predicted Predicted Predicted

Major Minor a/b Stress at A Stress at C Stress at B Stress at D
20 20 1 1980 1980 1980 1980
20 19 1.053 -34316 23683.4 38076 -19723.4
20 18 1.111 -67405.21 45594.8 70965.21 -41634.8
20 15 1.333 -147908.4 112091.6 150868.4 -108131.6
20 10 2 -223101 221899 225061 -217939
20 6 3.333 -235822.2 303177.8 236982.2 -299217.8
20 5 4 -233283.6 321716.4 234243.6 -317756.4
20 4 5 -228725.6 339274.4 229485.6 -335314.4
20 3 6.667 -222307.2 355693.8 222867.2 -351733.8
20 2.5 8 -218455 363420 218915 -359460

## ANSYS ANSYS ANSYS ANSYS

Major Minor a/b Stress at A Stress at C Stress at B Stress at D
20 20 1 1990 1990 1970 1970
20 19 1.053 -34501 23877 38261 -19769
20 18 1.111 -67781 45981 71341 -41707
20 15 1.333 -148850 113130 151810 -108220
20 10 2 -224950 224490 226910 -217670
20 6 3.333 -238320 308220 239948 -297680
20 5 4 -235920 327850 236880 -315490
20 4 5 -231500 346990 232260 -331890
20 3 6.667 -225200 365970 225760 -346290
20 2.5 8 -221400 375730 221860 -352350

34
Appendix D: Data for Elliptical Pressure Vessel Results

The following is the raw data for the plots found in Section 4.2:

## Major Minor Stress at Stress at Stress at Stress at

Axis Axis a/b D B C A
20 20 1 1970 1970 1990 1990
20 19.99 1.0005 1672.7 2266.6 2289.3 1689.5
20 19.95 1.002506 483.5 3450.1 3486.3 490.31
20 19.93 1.003512 -110.65 4040.5 4084 -107.94
20 19.9 1.005025 -1001.3 4924.4 4981 -1003.6
20 19.5 1.025641 -12811 16518 16873 -12750
20 18 1.111111 -56000 56808 60429 -53571
20 15 1.333333 -137050 122350 142640 -119980
20 10 2 -254240 188090 265070 -186740
20 6 3.333333 -322269 205210 352410 -204450
20 5 4 -332212 205500 376120 -204880
20 4 5 -333920 204600 407040 -204100
20 3 6.666667 -317520 202820 471100 -202450
20 2.5 8 -291540 201700 565420 -201410

## Major Minor Stress at Stress at Stress at Stress at

Axis Axis a/b D B C A
20 20 1 636.81 636.81 656.81 656.81
20 19.99 1.0005 604.32 669.01 689.95 623.32
20 19.95 1.002506 474.36 797.44 822.51 489.63
20 19.93 1.003512 409.44 861.52 888.75 422.95
20 19.9 1.005025 312.11 957.44 988.04 323.1
20 19.5 1.025641 -977.91 2215.3 2305.4 -986
20 18 1.111111 -5687.8 6583.1 7138 -5530.4
20 15 1.333333 -14473 13666 16314 -12901
20 10 2 -26770 20675 30434 -20248
20 6 3.333333 -32128 22366 43269 -22136
20 5 4 -31486 22350 49562 -22165
20 4 5 -28291 22210 66289 -22069
20 3 6.666667 -17764 21937 123060 -21840
20 2.5 8 -7171.3 21589 127600 -21515

35
For wall thickness = .5”

## Major Minor Stress at Stress at Stress at Stress at

Axis Axis a/b D B C A
20 20 1 370.25 370.25 390.25 390.25
20 19.99 1.0005 358.74 381.57 402.13 378.15
20 19.95 1.002506 312.74 426.71 449.71 329.86
20 19.93 1.003512 289.75 449.23 473.48 305.76
20 19.9 1.005025 255.3 482.94 509.12 269.7
20 19.5 1.025641 -201.21 924.99 982.08 -203.09
20 18 1.111111 -1865 2458.5 2720 -1842.5
20 15 1.333333 -4949 4936.9 6040.9 -4493.5
20 10 2 -9113.4 7355.1 11353 -7113.5
20 6 3.333333 -10160 7890.3 18019 -7766.8
20 5 4 -9250 7870.7 24293 -7774
20 4 5 -6650 7794.7 42875 -7725.2
20 3 6.666667 -1258.9 7479 45045 -7435
20 2.5 8 0 7109.5 39462 -7078

36