This paper describes an accepted approach for predicting fatigue crack-growth life in pipelines. Fatigue life is computed as the number of cycles for a crack-like flaw to grow from an initial size to a final critical size. This computation is performed by integrating a fracture-mechanics model for fatigue crack growth. The initial flaw size is estimated either from inspection results or by using fracture mechanics to predict the largest flaw that would have survived a hydrostatic pressure test. The final flaw size is estimated using fracture mechanics. Fracture-mechanics models for computing fatigue crack growth and predicting flaw size are reviewed. The anticipated cyclic loading must be characterized to perform the crack-growth calculations. Typically, cyclic loading histories, such as pressure cycle data, are analyzed and used to estimate future loadings. To utilize the crack-growth models, the cycles in the loading history must be counted. The rainflow cycle counting procedure is used to characterize the loading history and develop a histogram of load range versus number of cycles. This histogram is then used in the fatigue crack-growth analysis. Results of example calculations are discussed to illustrate the procedure and show the effects of periodic hydrostatic testing, threshold stress intensity factor range, and pressure ratio on predicted fatigue crack-growth life.

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