Although the scope and use of flexible pipe systems in deepwater developments is expanding, the mechanical behavior for these environments is not fully understood. This is due to the complex response and interaction between multiple layers within the pipe system that introduces significant difficulties and constraints into the engineering analysis. As future developments look to extend the use of this technology to greater water depths and harsher operating conditions there is a need to develop advanced numerical tools that can evaluate the mechanical integrity of these complex hybrid pipe systems. Availability of increasingly advanced computational packages has enabled substantial improvements to be made in the complexity of simulation tools for combined loading, external pressure collapse and fretting.

This study establishes a foundation for the development of advanced numerical modeling procedures to assess the collapse failure of composite flexible pipe systems for deepwater applications. Here, a continuum finite element model is constructed using the software package ABAQUS/Standard, and studied using non-linear (arc length) methods. The carcass, pressure armor and corresponding polymer layers are represented in detail and modeled with three dimensional solid brick elements in order to examine the interlayer relationships influencing collapse initiation. In many recent studies, an initial geometric imperfection in the form of general ovality is explored as the predominant bifurcation mode. A similar approach is adopted here, coupled with case studies chosen such as to facilitate validation against existing analytical and numerical data. The importance of element selection, contact mechanics, interface properties and initial imperfections on the system mechanical response and performance is presented and compared to the available literature.

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