Coke drums undergo cyclic operations typically in the temperature range from ambient temperature to about 500 °C (930 °F). During quenching, the coke drum is inevitably subjected to a rapid drop in temperature because cooling water is injected directly into the coke drum through the bottom inlet nozzle. The temperature profile on the shell surface is no more uneven in quenching, and can vary in each cycle of quenching operation. Such complicate thermal profile induces large strains in the shell portion of the coke drum, and eventually causes damage like bulging or cracking. This study makes investigations into the bulging behavior of the coke drum by the thermal elastic-plastic FE-analysis. In this work, a feasible study is conducted on potential causes of bulging. As factors inducing a heterogeneous plasticity in the shell structure of the coke drum, the strength overmatch of welds and the uneven temperature field in quenching as well as quenching conditions are focused. The analytical result shows that strength overmatch in girth seam welds can be one of the causes of plastic distortion under one operating cycle. The lower rising rate of cooling source can induce plastic straining over the whole shell wall, which tends to induce more remarkable plastic distortion.

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