Abstract

During a gas pipeline rupture event, the crack propagation velocity can exceed 300 m/s and the crack can run for several hundreds of metres before arresting. The current model to predict arrest pressure is the Battelle Two Curve Method (BTCM) using the Charpy V-notch energy to characterize propagation toughness. It has been shown that this model can give non-conservative predictions for high-strength pipe steels. Hence, the Crack Tip Opening Angle (CTOA) has been introduced as a promising parameter to describe crack propagation. The objective of the current work was to study the crack propagation process in pipe by Finite Element Analysis (FEA) techniques to gain a better understanding of crack driving force and factors influencing CTOA. Implicit FEM simulations of dynamic crack propagation in pipes with diameters ranging from 355 mm to 1219 mm with a wall thickness of about 19 mm were performed using material properties representative of either X65 or X80 pipeline steel. The specification of a critical CTOA and the nodal release algorithm in the software WARP3D were employed to propagate the crack up to about two metres in the simulations. For a given critical CTOA, pipe diameter, and pipe thickness a set of simulations was performed where the initial applied gas pressure varied from as low as 4 MPa up to 60 MPa (which corresponds to about 80% of the yield strength of the material). The CTOA values used in the simulations ranged from 5° to 20° and corresponded to CTOA measurements obtained in concurrent work from Drop Weight Tear Tests performed on pipe steels. To accurately predict crack velocity, it was important to apply a flap loading profile near the crack front representative of the gas pressure response during pipe rupture. Comparison of the crack propagation response was carried out between a constant pressure profile just behind the crack front and a pressure profile that varied with circumference a round the pipe. The influence of soil pressure on the flap loading response was also considered in the models. The predicted pressure versus crack velocity profiles and the arrest pressure can then be subsequently used to predict the arrest length for a given CTOA.

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