This paper presents a structural integrity evaluation of a duplex stainless steel pressure vessel containing several flaws detected in a longitudinal weld. The evaluation had the objective of determining whether the pressure vessel was suitable to continue in operation or whether it should be immediately repaired or even replaced. Due to timely issues, a first analysis was conducted in accordance with the 2007 edition of the API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 Standard [1]. A second analysis was later repeated based on the 2016 edition [1]. Results obtained from both analyses were compared and presented relevant differences caused by the other calculation procedures used to determine residual stresses generated in the longitudinal welding.

The assessment was based on the Failure Assessment Diagram (FAD). The existing indications were detected by ultrasonic examination and were located in one longitudinal weld. The assessment evaluations used stress intensity factors for the opening mode I, KI, obtained for two cases: 1) the combination of the several supposedly interacting cracks into an equivalent crack using the interaction criteria presented in [1]; 2) the allocation of the multiple cracks into a finite element model that took into consideration, more realistically, the interaction among the individual cracks. The total loads and stresses considered in the analysis resulted from a superposition of the design pressure stress and the residual stresses induced by the welding process.

Due to lack of information on the material fracture toughness for the duplex stainless steel used in the vessel, the material toughness was estimated using a lower bound value suggested in [1] for common welded stainless austenitic steels, although higher values can be predicted for duplex steels by extending the use of a transition master curve as presented and discussed elsewhere [2–7] and by employing specific Charpy test results for the vessel material.

One of the key aspects of the problem was the calculation of the residual stress distribution imposed by the welding process. Two procedures were adopted: one available in the API/ASME Standard issued in 2007, and the other in the 2016 release. The results presented in this paper have demonstrated that the limits of the Standard 2007 are conservatively satisfied when the Level 3 assessment is applied. The re-analysis of the vessel when subjected to the residual stress distribution presented in the newest 2016 edition leads to consider the vessel safe under an assessment Level 2. The overall conclusion was that the damaged pressure vessel could continue in service under restrictions of the development of an inspection plan to verify the absence of future crack growth.

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