Technical Briefs

The Danger of Piping Failure Due to Acoustic-Induced Fatigue in Infrequent Operations: Two Case Studies

[+] Author and Article Information
Husain Mohammed Al-Muslim

e-mail: Husain.muslim.2@aramco.com

Nadhir Ibrahim Al-Nasri

e-mail: Nadhir.nasri@aramco.com

Mohammad Y. Al-Hashem

e-mail: Mohammad.hashem@aramco.com
Saudi Aramco
Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia

Contributed by the Pressure Vessel and Piping Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received April 21, 2012; final manuscript received April 29, 2013; published online October 10, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Allen C. Smith.

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 135(6), 064501 (Oct 10, 2013) (5 pages) Paper No: PVT-12-1046; doi: 10.1115/1.4025081 History: Received April 21, 2012; Revised April 29, 2013

Failure in piping due to acoustic-induced fatigue can be considered catastrophic as it could happen only after a few minutes of operation. Acoustic-induced fatigue occurs mainly in gas piping systems with high velocity where high energy is dissipated through pressure reducing stations and pipe branch connections. It usually results in pipe through wall longitudinal cracks, pipe detachment from saddle supports, and complete shear off of branch connections. There are existing design criteria to avoid acoustic-induced fatigue based on comparison of generated power level to an acceptable power level. This criterion is normally used for the design of pressure relief and flare piping where high gas velocity exceeding 50% of the speed of sound (i.e., 0.5 Mach) is expected. However, acoustic-induced fatigue has been experienced in systems due to intermittent operations. Two case studies are presented in this paper. The first one is during a steam-out operation to clean a newly constructed steam header. During the cleaning operation, an orifice plate was used to control the flow in the steam header. Several pipe vents and drains failed due to fatigue in less than 1 h. The second case is for drainage of compressed natural gas during process upset condition. Because of the high level buildup in the liquefied gas separator vessel, the drain valve was opened to release the pressurized liquefied gas to the relief system to reduce the level buildup. Wall cracks and several pipe support detachments were found in the system after the upset condition. This paper presents the engineering analysis and material failure analysis conducted to find the root causes of the failures. Moreover, it highlights the recommendations and lessons learned from these two failures.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
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Eisinger, F. L., and Francis, J. T., 1999, “Acoustically Induced Structural Fatigue of Piping Systems,” ASME J. Pressure Vessel Technol., 121, pp. 438–443. [CrossRef]
Carucci, V. A., and Mueller, R. T., 1982, “Acoustically Induced Piping Vibration in High Capacity Pressure Reducing Systems,” ASME Paper No. 82-WA/PVP-8.
Eisinger, F. L., 1997, “Designing Piping Systems Against Acoustically Induced Structural Fatigue,” ASME J. Pressure Vessel Technol., 119, pp. 379–383. [CrossRef]
Eisinger, F. L., and Sullivan, R., 2010, “Acoustic Power and Acoustic Pressure in Piping Systems Handling High Velocity Steam and Gases Through a Pressure Reducing Device,” Proceedings of the ASME 2010 Pressure Vessels and Piping Division, PVP2010-25127, July 18–22, 2010, Bellevue, Washington, 2010.
Energy Institute, 2008, Guidelines for the Avoidance of Vibration Induced Fatigue Failure in Process Pipe Work, 2nd ed., Energy Institute, London, UK.
Blevins, R. D., 1979, Formulas for Natural Frequency and Mode Shape, Reinhold, New York.


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Fig. 1

Illustration of shell-mode vibration

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Fig. 2

Schematic illustration of case 1: steam cleaning of a newly constructed pipe

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Fig. 3

Vent completely sheared off

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Fig. 4

Drain completely sheared off

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Fig. 5

Cracked weld of structural attachment

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Fig. 6

Schematic illustration of case 2: draining liquefied natural gas to atmospheric relief line

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Fig. 7

Crack locations of the relief header line

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Fig. 8

Photograph showing cracking along the relief header line

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Fig. 9

Weld attachments of pipe supports have completely sheared off

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Fig. 10

Case 1: fracture surface of vent line. The beach marks with multiple initiation sites and multiple ratchet marks are clear indication of fatigue failure

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Fig. 11

Case 1: fracture surface of drain line. The arrow points to a beach mark, which indicates the fatigue failure.

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Fig. 12

Case 2: crack face of the failed branch

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Fig. 13

Case 2: cross section of crack, exterior surface, 32×, oxalic acid elect



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