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Basics for Fatigue Analysis of Piping System using

Caesar II
want2learn December 23, 2016 No Comment


Fatigue is the progressive and localized structural damage that occurs when a material is
subjected to cyclic loading. Continued cycling of high stress concentrations may eventually
cause a crack which propagates and results in leakages. This failure mechanism is called
fatigue. Damage once done during the fatigue process is cumulative and normally
Fatigue can be grouped in two classes; High cycle fatigue and low cycle fatigue.
High cycle fatigue involves little or no plastic action. Therefore, it is stress-governed.
Normally, a fatigue curve (also called the SN curve) is generated for every material by
experimental tests which correlates applied stress with the number of cycles to cause
failure. For high-cycle fatigue, the analysis is performed to determine the endurance limit,
which is actually a stress level that can be applied for an infinite number of times without
showing any failure. As a general rule no of cycles 10^5 is considered as demarcation point
for high and low cycle fatigue.

The loading cycles applied in piping design are normally very few in the order of a few
thousands. This type of fatigue is identified as low-cycle fatigue. For low-cycle fatigue, the
applied stress normally exceeds the yield strength of the material, which causes plastic
instability in the specimen under test. But when strain is used as the controlled variable, the
results in low-cycle region are reliable as well as reproducible.
Sources of Fatigue:
For Piping system, Cyclic loadings are primarily due to:

Thermal Expansion & Contraction

Vibration due to Occasional loading

Pressure variation within Piping system

Motion wave.
Due to Flow induced Vibration

The fatigue process is divided into three stages: crack initiation from the continued cycling
of high stress concentrations, crack propagation to critical size, and unstable rupture of the
Factors Affecting the Fatigue Behavior:
The factors which affect the fatigue behaviour are listed below:

Type and Nature of Loading.

Size of Component and stress or strain Distribution.

Surface finish and Directional Properties.

Stress or Strain Concentration.

Mean stress or Strain.

Environmental Effects.

Metallurgical Factors and Material Properties.

Strain Rate and Frequency Effects.

Characteristics of Low Cycle Fatigue:

Characterized by high loads and a small no. of cycles before failure.

Here failure occurs only with stress levels in the plastic range, i.e. significant plastic
strain occurs during each cycle.

The stresses which cause fatigue failure in the piping are the peak stresses.

In piping design, most of the loading cycles encountered would be of the low cycle

Characteristics of High Cycle Fatigue:

Characterized by high no. of cycles (Preferable N>10^4) with relatively low stress
levels and the deformation is in elastic range.

This type of fatigue failure used in the design of rotating machinery.

This type of fatigue results from strain cycles in the elastic range.

A stress level, endurance limit, may be applied an infinite times without failure, is
Failure Criteria:
While preparing fatigue curves, the strains obtained in the tests are multiplied by one-half of
the elastic modulus to obtain pseudo stress amplitude. This pseudo stress is directly
compared with the stresses calculated on the assumption of elastic behavior of piping.
During piping stress analysis, a stress called the alternating stress (Salt) is used which is
defined as one-half of the calculated peak stress. Fatigue failure can be prevented by
ensuring that the number of load cycles (N) associated with a specific alternating stress is
less than the number allowed in the SN curve or endurance curve. But in practical service
conditions a piping system is subjected to alternating stresses of different magnitudes.
These changes in magnitudes make the direct use of the fatigue curves inapplicable since
the curves are based on constant-stress amplitude.
Fatigue tests of metallic materials and structures have provided the following main clues to
the basic nature of fatigue:

Fatigue failure, or cracking under repeated stress much lower than the ultimate
tensile strength, is shown in most metals and alloys that exhibit some ductility in
static tests. The magnitude of the applied alternating stress range is the controlling
fatigue life parameter.

Failure depends upon the number of repetitions of a given range of stress rather than
the total time under load. The speed of loading is a factor of secondary importance,
except at elevated temperatures.

Some metals, including ferrous alloys, have a safe range of stress. Below this stress,
called the endurance limit or fatigue limit, failure does not occur irrespective of the
number of stress cycles.

Notches, grooves, or other discontinuities of section greatly decrease the stress

amplitude that can be sustained for a given number of cycles.

The range of stress necessary to produce failure in a fixed number of cycles usually
decrease as the mean tension stress of the loading cycle is increased.

Examination of fatigue fracture shows evidence of microscopic deformation, ever in

the apparently brittle region of origin and propagates of the crack. The plastic
deformation that accompanies a spreading fatigue crack is usually limited in extent
to regions very near the crack.

Therefore, to make fatigue curves applicable for piping, some alternate approach is
One hypothesis asserts that the damage fraction of any stress level S, is linearly proportional
to the Ratio of the number of cycles of operation at the stress level to the total number of
cycles that would
produce failure at that stress level. This means that failure is predicted to occur if
U1.0 where U= Usage factor = (ni/Ni) for all stress levels
Where, ni= number of cycles operating at stress level i
Ni= number of cycles to failure at stress level i as per material fatigue curve.
Analysis Requirement:
If there are two or more types of stress cycles which produce significant stresses, their
cumulative effect shall be evaluated as stipulated in Steps 1 through 6 below:

1. Designate the specified number of times each type of stress cycle of types 1,2,3,,n,
will be Repeated during the life of the component as n1, n2, n3,., nn, respectively.
In determining n1, n2, n3,., nn, consideration shall be given to the superposition
of cycles of various origins which produce the greatest total alternating stress range.
For example , if one type of stress cycle produce 1000 cycles of a stress variation
from zero to +60,000 psi and another type of stress cycle produces 10,000 cycles of
a stress variation from zero to -50,000 psi, the two cycles to be considered are shown

cycle type 1: n1=1000 and Salt1= (60000+50000)/2

cycle type 2: n2=9000 and Salt2= (0+50000)/2

For each type of stress cycle, determine the alternating stress intensity Salt, which
for our application is one half of the range between the expansion stress cycles (as
shown above). These alternating stress intensities are designated as Salt1, Salt2,

On the applicable design fatigue curve find the permissible number of cycles for each
Salt computed. These are designated as N1, N2, .Nn.

For each stress cycle calculate the usage factor U1, U2, .Un where U1= n1/N1,
U2= n2/N2,..Un=nn/Nn.

Calculate the cumulative usage factor U as U=U1+U2+.+Un.

The cumulative usage factor shall not exceed 1.0

Step by Step Method of Fatigue Analysis of a Piping

System Using Caesar II
want2learn October 19, 2016 2 Comments

In my last article on Fatigue Analysis I had explained the basics required for performing
fatigue analysis of piping systems. Click here to refresh yourself once again before
proceeding further. This article will explain the step by step methodology of actual
analysis steps which need to be followed during fatigue analysis using Caesar II. Before I
start the analysis steps, a short description of typical fatigue curves are required from where
we have to take the allowable limit for fatigue analysis.
Fatigue Curve:
Plot of Cyclic Stress capacity of a material is called fatigue curve, also known as S-N curve.
ASME Section VIII Div 2 Provide fatigue curve for various material.

Fatigue design curves are generated from test data by applying large safety margins to the
average property curve.
While considering material fatigue in design, an additional safety margin is often applied
against the cycles-to-failure at a given stress amplitude. As an example, if a component is
cycled continuously over the same stress range (Any constant stress range), a design limit
on allowable (permitted) cycles may correspond to the cycle life multiplied by a factor
(safety margin) such as 0.8. This is the common safety margin employed in vessel and
piping design.
For every material, a fatigue curve is normally generated by experimental analysis which
correlates peak stress range with the number of cycles to failure.
The alternating stress Sa is defined as one-half of the calculated peak stress.
As already mentioned in my last article that fatigue failure may be prevented by ensuring
that the number of load cycles N that the system experiences are fewer (lower) than the
number permitted for the alternating stress developed.
The cumulative effect shall be evaluated in case if there are two or more types of stress
cycles which produce significant stresses. The material fatigue resistance at a given applied
stress or strain range is a function of a number of factors, including material strength and
When to perform Fatigue Analysis:

Normally the fatigue analysis is performed for existing plants to evaluate actual cause for
any failure. For new plants the analysis can be performed only if the project specification
permits to do so. Refer project guidelines on the application requirement for fatigue analysis.
Before starting the analysis be ready with following data which will be required during

Fatigue Curve of the piping material

Enough process data for finding the total number of cycles throughout the design life
of the piping system.

Steps for Fatigue Analysis using Caesar II:

Assigning the fatigue curve data to the Piping Material in use: This is done
on the Allowable auxiliary screen. Fatigue data may be entered directly, or can be
read from a text file by clicking the Fatigue Curves Button. Seven commonly used
curves are available in \Caesar\System\*.Fat. (For Caesar version 2012, 2013 &2014
you may not find it in few computers, But these are available in earlier versions)
Fatigue curves provide series of S-N data which define the allowable stress with given
anticipated cycle and vise versa.

Defining the fatigue load cases: For this purposes, a new stress type, FAT, has
been already defined in Caesar II database. For every fatigue case, the number of
cycles anticipated must also be entered in appropriate space.

Calculation of the fatigue stresses: Caesar II automatically does this calculation

for us. The fatigue stresses, unless explicitly defined by the applicable code are same
as Caesar II calculated stress intensity (Max Stress Intensity), in order to conform to
the requirement of ASME section VIII, Division 2 Appendix 5.

Determination of the Fatigue stress allowable: The allowable stresses for

fatigue analysis are required to be interpolated logarithmically from the fatigue curve
based upon the number of cycles (throughout its life) designated in the fatigue load
cases. The calculated stress is assumed to be a peak-to-peak cycle value (i.e.,
thermal expansion, settlement, pressure, etc) for static load cases, so the allowable
stress can be extracted directly from fatigue curve. On the other hand for harmonic
and dynamic load cases, the calculated stress is assumed to be a zeroto-peak cycle
value (i.e., vibration, earthquake, etc), so the extracted allowable need to be divided
by 2 prior to use in the comparison.

Determination of the allowable number of cycles: The flip side of calculating

the allowable fatigue stress for the designated number of cycles is the calculation of
the allowable number of cycles for the calculated stress level. This is done be
logarithmically interpolating the Cycles axis of the fatigue curve based upon the
calculated stress value. Since static stresses are assumed to be peak-to-peak cycle
values, the allowable number of cycles is interpolated directly from the fatigue curve.
Since harmonic and dynamic stresses are assumed to be zero-to-peak cyclic values,
the allowable number of cycles is interpolated using twice the calculated stress

Reporting the analysis results: Caesar II provides two reports for viewing the
results of load cases of stress type FAT; standard stress report and cumulative usage
report. The first of these is the standard stress report for displaying the calculated
fatigue stress and the fatigue allowable at each node. Stress reports could be
generated individually for each load case and show whether any of the individual
load cases in isolation would fail the system or not.

However, in situations where there is more than one cyclic load case potentially contributing
to fatigue failure, the cumulative usage report is more appropriate. In order to generate this
report, the user should select all of the FAT load cases which contributes to the overall
system degradation (possible failure). The cumulative usage report lists for each node point
the usage ratio (actual cycles divided by allowable cycles), and then sums (combines) these
up for total cumulative Usage. A total value greater than 1.0 indicates a potential fatigue