The basic power piping creep life calculations consider the important variables of time, temperature and stress for the creep rupture properties of the unique material. Some engineering evaluations of remaining life estimate the applied stress as the design stress obtained from a conventional piping stress analysis. Other remaining life evaluations may assume that a conservative estimate of the applied stress is no greater than the hoop stress due to pressure. The creep rupture properties of the unique material are usually obtained from the base material creep rupture properties. The typical methodologies to estimate remaining life do not consider the actual applied stress due to malfunctioning supports, multiaxial stress effects, axial and through-wall creep redistribution, time-dependent material-specific weldment creep rupture properties, residual welding stresses, and actual operating temperatures and pressures.

It has been determined that the initiation and propagation of Grade 91 creep damage is a function of stress to about the power of 9 at higher applied stresses. There have been many examples of malfunctioning piping supports creating unintended high stresses. When the axial stress is nearly as high as the hoop stress, the applicable corresponding uniaxial stress for creep rupture life is increased about 30%. Multiaxial stress effects in circumferential weldments (e.g., when the axial stress is nearly as high as the hoop stress) can reduce the weldment creep life to less than 1/6th of the predicted life assuming a uniaxial stress or hoop stress due to pressure only.

Since 2012, the ASME B31.1 Code has required that significant piping displacement variations from the expected design displacements shall be considered to assess the piping system’s integrity [1]. This paper discusses a strategy for an enhanced creep life evaluation of power piping circumferential weldments. Piping stresses can vary by a factor greater than 2.0. Consequently, the range of circumferential weldment creep rupture lives for a single piping system may vary by a factor as high as 40.

Although there is uncertainty in the operating times at temperatures and pressures, all of the weldments within the piping system have the same time, temperatures, and pressures, so the corresponding uncertainties for these three attributes are normalized within the same piping system. Since the applied stresses are the most important weld-to-weld variable within a piping system, it is necessary to have an accurate evaluation of the applied stresses to properly rank the creep rupture lives of the circumferential weldments. This methodology has been successfully used to select the lead-the-fleet creep damage in circumferential weldments over the past 15 years.

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