Heater Thermal Stress Analysis & Heater Creep Rupture Analysis

Analysis Type: thermal stress (FEA) and creep rupture
Objective: to evaluate mechanical integrity against API Standard 560
Sector: Industrial

Client Benefits: A cost-effective design review, with detailed reference to the relevant international standard, and improved insight regarding the impact of a range of operating conditions on the tubesheet structure.

Project Background: With over 200 years combined experience at senior management level, Boustead International Heaters Ltd is at the forefront of delivering fired heater and waste heat recovery solutions to industry worldwide.

Key components in Boustead’s range of fired heaters are the tubesheets, which are used to support banks of process tubes in a very hostile environment. The tubesheets must resist creep damage while exposed to high thermal gradients at temperatures in excess of 1000 ° C.

Boustead routinely design their fired heaters to meet API Standard 560 using well-established in-house procedures. However, they were required to obtain detailed confirmation of the integrity of an existing tubesheet design for a proposed installation.

The most cost-effective way of deriving the necessary detailed stress data for this type of project is to use finite element analysis (FEA). To avoid a substantial capital outlay for an activity that is not a mainstream requirement, Boustead chose to outsource the analysis to TriVista Engineering .

Solution: A 3D model was derived from available 2D data to reflect the true geometry of the structure. Detailed boundary conditions were used to simulate the varying tube temperatures and accurately predict thermally induced stresses. Self-weight and tube weight were also applied as loads.

Once the FE model was established it was possible to rapidly evaluate a number of temperature cases and gain valuable insight into the internal temperature and stress distributions, something which is very difficult to test for in view of the extreme temperatures.

The FEA data was evaluated against API 560 in terms of strength and creep rupture for the load cases of interest. The result quickly confirmed that the design was acceptable for the required application.

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