Several studies recognized that cracks in delayed coke drums resulted from low cycle fatigue induced by cyclic thermal stress [1], [2], [3]. According to a coke drum survey coordinated by API in 1996 [1], there are two different areas where cracks are produced. The first zone is located at the shell to skirt weld, and the second at the bulged areas found in the cylindrical section. In the second case, from 145 coke drums 57% reported that had shell bulging problems. Of the drums that bulged, 87 % also showed cracks.

Recently, it has been reported the use of a novel weld repair procedure on bulged sections of a drum. In this repair, the bulge is overlaid with weld metal on the inside or outside on the bulge depending on the bulge shape. It has been reported that this repair procedure can stop further bulging on the shell, but detailed information about its influence has not yet been published.

Finite element analysis of several bulged patterns that were identified from some laser mappings are used to compare the level of the stress after a weld overlay repair is made. The study was carried out running a sequentially-coupled thermo-mechanical analysis. The assessment shows the influence of the thickness and the extent of the weld overlay on the level of stress on bulged coke drums. The results indicated that depending on the initial bulged shape this repair method either reduces or increases the level of the stress. When an inward deformation pattern is observed, an external reinforcement is recommended; however, when an outward deformation pattern is developed in a coke drum, an external weld overlay repair is not recommended.

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