Induction pipe bends are essential multi-functional components in offshore applications performing not only as fluid conductors but also as structural members providing flexibility to the entire pipeline. The deforming mechanism of bends minimizes the effects of pipe walking, length changes due to thermal expansion/contraction, etc. However, the extent to which the bend deforms to counteract the pipeline deformation, prior to reaching plastic collapse, is dictated by the design variables. The pipe bend design variables include the geometry of the bend, the inelastic material properties, and the operating loads. The study of the influence of these variables is central to improving upon existing bend designs and is the focus of this research.

The certification process for bends typically involves ensuring the pipe bending moment is within limits set by agencies such as DNV, ASME, etc. Closed form solutions for the bending moment do exist but they often do not consider the effects of large deformation and the material nonlinearity of the bends. Since it is impractical to perform physical tests for every possible design, numerical techniques such as the finite element methods are an attractive alternative. Furthermore, for a given bend design, the design variables are prone to deviation, due to manufacturing process, operating conditions, etc., which introduces variation in the structural response and the resulting bending moment.

In this paper, a nonlinear finite element analysis of induction bends is discussed followed by a presentation of a simulation workflow and reliability analysis. The finite element analysis utilizes a nonlinear Abaqus model with an user-subroutine prescribing precise end loading and boundary conditions. The workflow utilizes the design exploration software, Isight, which automates the solution process. Thereafter, reliability analysis is performed by varying the design variables, such as bend angle, ovalization, etc. and the results of the simulation are presented.

The objective is to illustrate a solution technique for predicting the induction bend load carrying capacity and to examine design robustness. An automated workflow is demonstrated which allows for quick design variable changes, there by potentially reducing design time. The reliability analysis allows analysts to measure the variation in the load carrying capacity resulting from the deviation of design variable specifications. These demonstrations are intended to emphasize that to ensure the success of a bend design, it is important to not only predict the load carrying capacity accurately but also to perform reliability analysis for the design.

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