A comparative study on the effects of internal vs external pressure for a pressure vessel subjected to piping loads at the shell-to-nozzle junction.
This investigation seeks to perform a comparative study between the combined effects of internal pressure and piping loads versus external pressure and piping loads on a pressure vessel. There are currently several well-known and widely-used procedures for predicting the stress situation and the structural stability of pressure vessels under internal pressure when external piping loads (due to thermal expansion, weight, pressure, etc.) are applied at the nozzles. This project familiarises one with several international pressure vessel design Codes and standards, including AS ME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) pressure vessel code sections and WRC (Welding Research Council) bulletins. It has been found that many vessels are designed to operate under normal or steam-out conditions (in vacuum). The combined effect of the external atmospheric pressure and the piping loads at the nozzle could be catastrophic if not addressed properly - especially when the stability of the structure is a crucial consideration, i.e. when buckling is a concern. The above-mentioned codes and standards do not directly address procedures or provide acceptance criteria for external loads during vacuum conditions. The approach to the study was, firstly, to investigate the effects of internal pressure and piping loads at the shell-to-nozzle junction. Theoretical stresses were compared with Finite Element results generated using the software package MSC PATRAN. Finite Element Methods provide a more realistic approach to the design of pressure vessels as compared to theoretical methods. It was necessary to determine if the theoretical procedures currently used were adequate in predicting the structural situation of a pressure vessel. Secondly, the buckling effects of vessels subjected to external atmospheric pressure and piping loads were also investigated. Buckling of the shell-to-nozzle region was explored with the aid of Finite Element software. The results gained were used to develop appropriate procedures for the design of vessels under external atmospheric pressure and piping loads. The design is such that it indicates if buckling will occur at the shell-to-nozzle junction. These design procedures form the basis for future exploration in this regard.
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