During installation and operation a flexible pipe may be subjected to high compressive forces, high cyclic curvatures and external pressures leading to high reverse end-cap loads. Under such loading conditions, which occur particularly in the touchdown region for deep water applications, the limiting condition for the flexible pipe can be the compressive stability of the tensile armour wires. Two potential instability modes are possible: radial mode (birdcaging) and lateral mode (lateral wire disorganization). Previous work on the subject has established the key factors which influence the onset of each buckling mode ,, and .
In order to ensure the feasibility of flexible designs for applications with increasing water depth, it is important to improve the knowledge of the mechanisms which can lead to instability of armour wires and enhance the ability to predict with greater assurance, the particular conditions which increase the risk of wire instability.
The focus of this work is the comparison of finite element prediction of radial buckling (birdcaging) with physical testing results under loading states that lead a pipe to birdcaging failure.
The numerical model incorporates all tensile armor wires and their interactions with each other and adjacent layers. The outer sheath and reinforcing tape layers are explicitly represented, while the inner layers of the pipe (pressure armour and carcass sheath) are idealized using a homogeneous representation. The model also incorporates the effects of manufacturing pre-tension and hoop strength in the anti-birdcaging tape layers which are critical determinants for the onset of buckling.
A key aspect of the method presented is the means by which the loading is applied. Specifically, the modeling handles the simultaneous and controlled application of end rotations, axial compression and radial resistance of the tapes through to the point of tape failure, pipe ovalisation and subsequent radial displacement and buckling of individual wires.
In summary, in this paper a solid modeling approach is presented, which is compared with full a scale sample test data, that enables the simulation of a flexible pipe undergoing large combined compression, curvatures and pressure loading.