Background. The authors conducted a study to analyse the impact of autofrettage practice on the fatigue crack growth in the vicinity of the catalyst entry nozzle in a MK.15 ICI LDPE autoclave reactor.

Methods. The authors created 3-D finite element models of the quadrant of the opening. Elastic-plastic analysis was carried out to evaluate the residual stresses from the autofrettage which were then used as an input to the fracture mechanics analysis. Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics (LEFM) methodology was then deployed associating a Radial Direction, Quarter-Circular Corner Crack pattern as per API 579/ASME VIII Div.3 for the purpose of calculating the crack tip stress intensity. A number of hypothetical pressure cycles were considered in order to calculate the crack growth rate as per ASME Div.3 (Paris’ Law) both with and without residual stresses from autofrettage analysis.

Results. The study results showed the change in the crack behaviour as a result of adding the autofrettage residual stresses onto the model and discussed the implications of such a practice on the design life for autoclave reactors.

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