Even with improvements to remove excessive conservatisms, current fatigue assessment approaches can result in high Cumulative Usage Factors (CUFs) for some analyses. In order to improve plant availability from these assessments and mitigate future changes to design codes, an improvement in understanding in this area is desirable. Hence the proposal for a Life Assessment Methodology (LAM) was created.

The LAM is a concept for an approach based on modelling each stage of fatigue life to predict total fatigue life, as a means of minimising conservatism in an assessment, where necessary. It should also be capable of incorporating statistical methods to assign reliability figures to calculated plant lives.

This paper describes the proposed definition of the LAM and how a proof of concept version of the LAM was developed to assess the Bettis Bechtel Stepped Pipe (BBSP) test. The results were presented with two seeded cases (fixed inputs) and a range of lives corresponding to associated Target Reliabilities (TRs). The Best Estimate (BE) and TR associated lives produced were based on using the latest methods available for calculating Fatigue Initiation (FI) and Fatigue Crack Growth (FCG), whereas the seeded Effective Strain Range (ESR) comparison case used current deterministic assessment methods.

The results for the case study concluded that there is a benefit to pursuing the development of the LAM when compared to traditional assessment methods. It highlighted and quantified the conservatism present in traditional assessment methods for these cases as well as the need to understand the required TR for a specific component as this can have a large effect on the predicted life.

With further refinements to the method, a more realistic and robust output of the total fatigue life distribution (for specific cases) would be obtained, which in turn would allow us to better quantify the conservatism associated with a TR.

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