The bending of large pipes due to temperature differentials between the bottom and top of the pipe is a very serious problem. The temperature differentials can either be caused by extremely cold liquids (such as methane or ethylene flowing from a lateral into a flare header) or hot liquids flowing at the bottom of a piping system (such as in a Vacuum transfer line) while the top is exposed to atmospheric conditions. In some cases liquids may be produced by Joule-Thompson cooling of high pressure cold gas as it expands through a safety-relief or emergency depressurization valve. The liquid so formed can accumulate, for example, on the dead leg side of a flare header. The differential expansion can deform the pipe so that it lifts off its supports. It takes a finite amount of time for the heat transfer by conduction to equilibrate the temperature to a more benign level. The initial stresses induced due to large thermal differential may even cause the pipe to crack in the region of the supports and T-joints to the laterals. This phenomenon has been observed in several industries, most predominantly in the petrochemical industry. This paper recounts the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to study this important phenomenon. The liquid flowing from the lateral into the main header pipe is multiphase in the dispersed, stratified, slug or annular flow re´gime. Multiphase flows with heat transfer are analyzed using CFD. The temperatures on the walls of the pipe system are then transferred to the FEA and analyzed for heat transfer and thermal stresses. These stresses are compared to ASME standards to see if they are within allowable limits. This paper also recounts efforts to reduce the bending effect by preventing liquid accumulation on the dead leg side. Other methods that provide better supports for bent piping are studied. Further, methods of equilibrating the temperature faster to prevent the bowing of the pipe are also studied. It is hoped that this presentation will benefit people designing piping networks with varying liquid and vapor traffic.

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