In the case of structures operating at high temperature in normal or accidental conditions, the influence of creep has to be considered at the design stage because this phenomenon may reduce the lifetime significantly. This is true in particular for buckling analysis : in creep conditions, the buckling sometimes occurs after a long period under a compressive load which is lower than the critical load assessed when considering an instantaneous buckling. The main reason is that creep deformations induce an amplification of the initial geometrical imperfections and consequently a reduction of the buckling load. Some Design Codes incorporate special rules and/or methods to take creep buckling into account. Creep buckling analysis methods aim at evaluating critical loading for a given hold period with creep or alternatively critical creep time for a given loading. The Codes where creep buckling is considered also define margins with respect to critical loading : it shall be demonstrated that creep instability will not occur during the whole lifetime when multiplying the specified loading by a coefficient (design factor) depending on the situation level. For the design of NPP, specific creep buckling rules exist in the US, France and Russia. In the US, ASME, Section III, Subsection NH, which is dedicated to high temperature components design, provides limits which are applicable to general geometrical configurations and loading conditions that may cause buckling due to creep behaviour of the material. For load-controlled time-dependent creep buckling, the design factors to apply to the specified loadings are 1.5 for levels A, B or C service loadings and 1.25 for level D service loadings. A design factor is not required in the case of purely strain-controlled buckling. No specific method is provided to obtain critical loading or critical time for creep instability. In France, creep buckling rules included in RCC-MR, Chapter RB or RC 3200 are similar to those of ASME, Subsection NH. In addition, a new simplified method has been developed recently to assess critical creep loading/time for a shell under mechanical loading. Diagrams, presently valid for 316 austenitic steel, have been established from a ring model with perfect plasticity. Creep buckling load is determined applying a reduction factor to Euler instantaneous buckling load, depending on temperature, hold time, thinness of the structure and geometrical imperfection amplitude. This method has been validated by experimental tests and finite element results. It will be included in Appendix A7 of RCC-MR, Edition 2000. In Russia, the document PNAE G-7-002-86 applicable to NPP equipment and pipeline strength analysis, presents stability check analytical calculations to be performed to determine the allowable loading or allowable operation lifetime for typical geometries (cylindrical shells, dished ends) and loadings (external pressure, axial force). In the case of stability analysis under creep, creep deformation is assessed using a Norton law. In Germany, a KTA project including an analytical method for creep buckling analysis had also been proposed at the beginning of 90th to be used in HTR development. Finally, in India, a creep buckling analysis method has been proposed in the framework of PFBR project. As per this approach, elastic-plastic analysis should be performed replacing the instantaneous stress-strain curve at the design temperature by the isochronous curve for the time corresponding to the lifetime of the component and the same temperature. These methods are applied in the case of cylindrical shells under external pressure and comparative results are provided. The RCC-MR method appears to be reasonably conservative and applicable with several creep law types.

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