This paper describes the considerations employed in the finite element analysis of a relatively “short” support skirt on a hydrocarbon reactor vessel. The analysis is accomplished in accordance with ASME B&PV Code, Section VIII, Division 2 alternate rules in conjunction with the guidelines outlined in WRC Bulletin 429. This provides a sound basis for the classification of the calculated stress intensities. The support skirt is capable of sustaining the deadweight load in addition to resisting the effects of thermal displacements, wind loadings, overturning moments from external piping loads on the attached hydrocarbon reactor vessel, and friction between the skirt base plate and concrete foundation. The displacement and thermal boundary conditions are well defined and discussed in detail. The effects of multiple scenarios for the displacement boundary conditions are examined. The skirt design also employs a hot-box arrangement whereby the primary mode of heat transfer is by radiation. A discussion of the two-part analysis is included and details the interaction between the heat transfer analysis and the subsequent structural analysis. The heat transfer finite element analysis is utilized to determine the temperatures throughout the bottom of the vessel shell and head, as well as the integrally attached support skirt. Of prime importance during the analysis is the axial thermal gradient present in the skirt from the base plate up to and slightly beyond the skirt-to-shell junction. While the geometry of the subject vessel and skirt is best described as axisymmetric, the imposed loadings are a mixture of axisymmetric and non-axisymmetric. This combination lends itself to the judicious selection and utilization of the harmonic finite element and properly chosen Fourier series representation of the applied loads. Comparison of the thermally induced axial stress gradient results from the FEA to those obtained by the closed form beam-on-elastic-foundation are also tendered and discussed. Finally, recommendations are included for the design and analysis of critical support skirts for large, heavy-wall vessels.

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