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# 436-354-1 Mechanics-3 Stress Analysis

Topic 1:
Membrane Theory of axisymmetric (thin walled) shells
The membrane theory of axisymmetric shells applies to the design of engineering
devices such as pressure vessels and tanks that have thin walls.
The usual rule of thumb is that a vessels walls are thin if its thickness is less than
10% of the radius a guideline, only.
The theory ignores bending stresses in the shell. The validity of this assumption
It will be assumed that the shell has the form of a surface of revolution (i.e. is
axisymmetric). The stresses to be found are usually described either as a
longitudinal stress and a hoop stress or as meridional and circumferential stress
(depending on the book being referenced). These notes will use the terms
longitudinal and hoop and the symbols ! l and ! h (figure 1).

Axis of axisymmetry

!h

!l

## Figure 1. An axisymmetric pressure vessel in the shape of an ellipsoid of

revolution (football), showing the directions of the principal stresses.
The symmetry associated with this work suggests that longitudinal and hoop
stresses are principal stresses.
The third principal stress would be perpendicular to the surface of the pressure
vessel, equal to the internal pressure on the inside of the vessel and to the external
pressure on the outside. If the pressure vessel is thin then both of these are usually
negligible compared with the yield stress of the material and is regarded as zero.
The internal pressure p need not be constant but, to maintain the symmetry of the
overall theory, it must be symmetrically distributed about the axis of axisymmetry.
For example, the vessel may be spinning about its axis of axisymmetry.
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At any point on the shell there are two principal curvatures. The corresponding

## hoop (or circumferential) rh .

To find the hoop radius, draw two normal lines (normals) to the shell, both on the
same circumference (hoop) as the point under consideration. The two normals
intersect at the axisymmetry axis. The distance from this intersection to the shell is
the hoop radius. Because the shell is axisymmetric the distance between the two
normals is unimportant (figure 2).
Axis of axisymmetry

## Figure 2. Two normals to the shell defining the hoop radius rh .

Alternatively, figure 3 shows a longitudinal section of the shell. The hoop radius
at the point under consideration can be found by drawing the normal to the shell
from the axis of axisymmetry.
The hoop radius is different from the local radius r because it is perpendicular to
the shell, not the axis of axisymmetry.

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Axis of axisymmetry

rh

## Figure 3. The difference between hoop radius, rh and local radius, r .

The longitudinal radius is found by drawing two normals to the shell, an
infinitesimal distance apart, with both normals on the same meridian line.
Both normal lines will intersect the axis of axisymmetry but will not in general
intersect with each other on the axis of axisymmetry (Figure 4).

l
Axis of axisymmetry

rl

## Figure 4. The longitudinal radius, rl . Angle ! l is also defined.

On a waisted shell (for example, a classic coke bottle) it is possible for the

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## Rather than using stresses in the derivation of the defining equations, it is

convenient to introduce the force per unit length of shell:
N l = ! l t is the force per unit length in the longitudinal direction, where t is

## the thickness of the shell.

N h = ! h t is the force per unit length in the hoop direction.

If the shell is spinning then the associated centrifugal load must be considered.
This is expressed as a force per unit area of the shell:

R = # t! 2 r = " t! 2 r / g
where ! is the density, ! is the angular velocity and ! is the specific weight of
the shell.
Consider the equilibrium of an infinitesimal element cut from the shell by two
meridians and two circumferences.
The element will have a wedge shape with:

## the top edge will have dimension (r + dr )d! h ).

The forces on this element are shown in figure 5 and are:
A = N l r d' h
&
#
dN l
B = \$\$ N l +
ds l !!(r + dr )d' h
ds l
%
"
dr #
&
C = R ds l \$ r + !d' h
2"
%
D = N h ds l

Summing the forces in the direction n, perpendicular to the shell results in:
N l r d( h

#
d( l &
dN l
d(
d(
+ \$\$ N l +
ds l !!(r + dr )d( h l + 2 N h ds l h cos( l ' pr d( h ds l
2
ds l
2
2
%
"
dr #
&
' R ds l \$ r + ! d( h cos( l = 0
2"
%

## Substituting ds l = rl d! l and dividing throughout by d! h d! l results in:

# (r + dr )
Nlr &
dN l
dr #
&
+ \$\$ N l +
ds l !!
+ N h rl cos ( l ' prrl ' Rrl \$ r + ! cos ( l = 0
2
ds l
2"
%
%
" 2
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## Expanding and deleting small terms such as N l

dr
results in:
2

N l N h cos ! l
+
= p + R cos ! l
rl
r

Then since r = rh cos ! l and substituting for the forces per unit length:

\$ l \$ h p "# 2 r cos ! l
+
= +
rl
rh
t
g

(1)

## Summing forces in the longitudinal plane results in:

'
\$
dN l
d(
dr \$
'
%% N l +
ds l ""(r + dr )d( h + R ds l % r + "d( h sin ( l ! N l r d( h ! 2 N h ds l h sin ( l = 0
ds l
2#
2
&
&
#

Expanding and neglecting small terms, then substituting as before results in:

*
d
"# 2 r 2 '
%% sin ! l
(\$ l r ) = ((\$ h +
ds l
g
)
&

(2)

If the vessel is closed at an end, a third equation can be found by considering the
equilibrium of a portion of the vessel (figure 6).
Figure 6 shows the closed end of a vessel filled with liquid. The vessel has been
sectioned by a horizontal plane and only that part of the vessel below the
horizontal plane section plane is considered (static equilibrium).
At the section plane:

## the pressure in the fluid is p , and

the weight of the fluid (and shell) below the section plane is W .
For vertical equilibrium:
2! rN l cos " l = ! r 2 p + W

Substituting:

#l =

pr
W
+
2t cos! l 2" rt cos! l

(3)

There are now three equations to solve and only two unknown stresses
(longitudinal " l and hoop " h ) to be found. Equations (2) and (3) do not conflict.
Only use one choose the one that best suits the specific problem.
!
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!
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Axis of
axisymmetry

B
dl/2
r + dr

dsl

Longitudinal
section

dl/2
A

dh
p
dsh

Hoop section
D

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Nl

Nl

r
p

## Figure 6. Forces on a closed end of a vessel.

Examples
1. Simple cylinders
Consider a cylindrical pressure vessel of radius R with internal pressure p , where:

Let:

## angular velocity, ! = 0 and

total weight, W = 0 .
Substituting into equations (1) through (3):
!h =

pR
t

d
(! l R ) = 0
ds l

!l =

pR
2t

The first and the last of these should be familiar from earlier studies.
Since R ! 0 , the second equation solves for ! l = constant, which is in agreement
with the last equation but is not as useful. However the last equation only applies
if the pressure vessel has a closed end. If this were not so, for example if the
vessel were a hydraulic cylinder, then the last equation would not apply. For a
hydraulic cylinder it is clear that ! l = 0 at the free end, so the second equation
would then solve for ! l = 0 for the entire length.
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2. Simple spheres

For a sphere:
rl = rh = R

r = R cos ! l

## Again, let ! = 0 and W = 0 .

Equation (3) gives ! l =
Substituting ! l =
Equation (2) gives

pR
.
2t

pR
pR
into equation (1) gives ! h =
, as expected.
2t
2t
d
(" l R cos ! l ) = PR which is not particularly useful because
ds l
2t

there is no obvious way of finding the constant of integration after this result is
integrated.
3. Ellipsoid of Revolution
y
rl
b
x
a

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2
3 b
rl = rh 4

rh

(a
=

y2 + b4 x2
b2

## Again, let ! = 0 and W = 0 .

Recognizing that r = rh cos ! l equation (3) gives:
pr
!l = h
2t
Substitute this into equation (1):
pr &
r
( h = h \$\$1 ' h
t % 2rl

#
!!
"

## if rh = rl = R these equations reduce to those for a sphere.

a2
pa 2
on the axis of axisymmetry ( x = 0, y = a ): rl = rh =
and ! l = ! h =
.
b
2bt
b2
at the equator ( x = a, y = 0 ), radii are: rl = , rh = a
a
pa
&
a2 #
\$
!
=
(
=
pa
1
'
with associated stresses: l
, h
\$ 2b 2 !!
2t
%
"

## ! l is always positive, but ! h is negative if a 2 > 2b 2 .

Negative stress (compression) potentially leads to buckling of the shell and should
be avoided.

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4. Torus
b

## Figure 9: Toroidal vessel

Radii associated with a toroidal vessel:
rl = a ,

r = b + a cos ! l , and

rh =

r
b
=a+
.
cos ! l
cos ! l

## Again let ! = 0 and W = 0 .

At least two different solutions arise in the literature for the torus.
If you compare the solution below with one from some other source, check that it
is, in fact, the same problem being solved:

One solution is for the complete torus (e.g. the inner tube of a car tire).

The second, and most useful, solution for pressure vessels is for a portion of
the torus closed in the middle to form a dish (figure 10).

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"l =

pr
2t cos ! l

## Substituting this into equation (1):

pa &\$ & b #
)h =
1' \$
!
2t \$% % a cos ( "

#
!
!
"

Torispherical ends
Pressure vessels used in the chemical industry are commonly made from a cylinder
with dished ends (figure 10).
The obvious shape for the ends is perhaps hemispherical, but the hemispherical
shape is too deep for easy manufacture and requires significant additional floor
space for the volume contained.
The formulae derived in the above examples indicate that the stress in a
hemispherical end would only be one half of the stress in the cylindrical section,
which indicates a poor use of material (i.e. an uneven design factor of safety).
An alternative is the use of an ellipsoidal end, which is sometimes used, but
generating an ellipsoidal shape is difficult, (and therefore expensive) so the
ellipsoid is usually approximated by a torispherical end where the ellipse is
approximated using two circular arcs (figure 11).

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## Local Bending of Thin Shells

It would be easy to think that shells of different shape can be readily cut up and
connected together, and the equations derived for the separate geometric shapes
still apply.
There is an error in this logic.
Take, for example, a hemispherical end attached to a cylindrical pressure vessel.
Substituting the stresses found above into Hookes law, the hoop strain in the
cylinder is:
pR & ( #
)h =
\$1 ' !
Et % 2 "
so the cylinders radius uc increases by:
pR 2 & ( #
uc =
\$1 ' ! .
Et % 2 "
!

## The spheres radius us increases by:

pR 2
(1 " ! ).
us =
2 Et
!

For typical metallic materials with Poissons ratio, = 0.3, the cylinder expands
more than one and on half times as much as the spherical end.
This, of course, is impossible.
Figure 12 indicates that the edges of the two parts can be pulled together by
applying equal and opposite edge loads to both the cylinder and the sphere.
The slopes of the two would then not be the same unless equal and opposite edge
moments are applied.

M
F

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## The associated problem is to find:

1. the stress distribution in a cylindrical tube with these edge loads, and
2. the corresponding stress distribution in a hemisphere.
The overall stress distribution with both pressure and edge loads could then be
found by superposition.
The solution of this problem is beyond the scope of these notes but can be found in
the literature.
For both the sphere and the cylinder, the radial displacement is found to be in the
form of a damped oscillation. The cylinder displacement is a damped sinusoid and
appears as shown in figure 13. This involves bending stresses, which have been
ignored in the preceding analysis.
The question then becomes: how should this influence the design of thin shells
used as pressure vessels.

Cylinder displacement

Axis of axisymmetry

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## The rationale for ignoring local bending stresses

Bending stresses add to the stress on one surface of the shell and subtract from the
stress on the other surface.
Even if they are relatively large compared with the membrane stresses, the centre
of the shell thickness will have the stress level predicted by thin shell theory.
A shell correctly designed according to thin shell theory will, therefore, not exceed
the design stress at the centre of its thickness.
On the other hand, even the yield point may be exceeded on one or other of the
surfaces due to local bending stress.
Does this matter?
The shell will not leak or explode due to this local yielding.
Suppose a portion of the shell yields in tension under the applied pressure. When
the pressure is released that part of the shell will be compressed. If it does not
yield in compression before the pressure is reduced to zero, then it will behave
elastically when the pressure is reapplied and the vessel is safe, although there is a
question of failure due to low cycle fatigue.
If the bending stresses are so large that, when the pressure is released, the material
yields in compression, then it will yield again in tension on the second loading.
hardening, but again, the main issue is that of low cycle fatigue.
Fortunately, most industrial pressure vessels execute few load cycles during a life
cycle.
The practical approach to the design and use of thin pressure vessels is as follows:

The vessel is designed according to thin shell theory and the local bending
stresses are ignored.
A test pressure is calculated. This is usually based on the maximum pressure
likely to occur in service (usually associated with the safety valve opening
pressure), with a safety allowance and an allowance for the difference in
material properties at room temperature and at the working temperature and
environmental conditions of the shell.
The vessel is then filled with water and the pressure increased to that test
pressure. This may cause local yielding due to the local bending stresses.
Vessel welds may be struck with a hammer to check weld soundness.
In service, the vessel is inspected inside and out on a regular basis,
particularly inspecting for cracks in the locations where local bending stresses
would be found.

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Stiffening Rings
Structures such as grain silos are often built with cylindrical sides and conical
bottoms so that the contents can be drained from the bottom.
The conical portion of the shell is likely to have a longitudinal stress that has a
That radial component is applied to the bottom of the cylinder and will introduce
hoop compression into both components.
The shell is likely to buckle at the joint between the two sections.
This risk of buckling can be overcome through the inclusion of a stiffening ring
(figure 14).

lcylinder

lcone
Stiffening ring

## Figure 14: Silo with conical base and stiffening ring.

Consider one half of the stiffening ring (figure 15).
The radial load per unit length on the ring will be the radial component of " lcone t .
Let:
Q = " lcone t ,

!

QR
A

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