In the design of buried piping, resistance of the pipe-soil system to the applied vertical load is a significant design consideration. Application of a resultant vertical load perpendicular to the longitudinal pipe axis results in ovalization of the pipe, with resulting vertical pressures in the soil bedding and horizontal pressures in the soil backfill adjacent to the pipe, as well as internal forces and moments in the pipe wall. For pipes that are relatively rigid compared to the soil backfill, the developed internal forces in the pipe hoop and resulting internal moments in the wall tend to be higher than a more flexible pipe with a stiffer soil backfill. For many buried pipes, design to consider through-wall bending stress is not included and consideration of a buckling allowable is considered adequate. However, for safety-related pipes, investigation to include the through-wall bending stress is considered important.

Although estimation of the internal hoop stresses in a buried pipe is relatively straight forward, several different methodologies are presented in various industry documents for calculating the through-wall bending stress due to the resulting internal moments. Recommended approaches for calculating the through-wall bending stress vary depending on the pipe material, wall thickness, wall type, deflection, burial condition and other factors. A sensitivity study comparing various theories estimating the through-wall bending stress in a buried pipe subject to external loads with a vertical resultant force is performed. The range of variables is assessed to determine the applicability of the results to typical safety-related piping. This study presents the results of the sensitivity study and provides recommendations for the calculation and incorporation of through-wall bending stress in the design of buried safety related piping.

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