Improve evaluation of brittle-fracture resistance for vessels
This article discusses a new approach and spreadsheet tool for engineers that can be used to provide operating pressure limits as a function of vessel-metal temperatures.
Process vessels such as towers, drums and heat exchangers
can be exposed to low temperatures as part of normal operating
conditions or due to a process upset. Carbon and low-alloy
steels typically used in process vessels undergo a transition
from ductile to brittle behavior as temperature is reduced and
are at increased risk of brittle fracture at low temperature.
To reduce this risk, the American Society of Mechanical
Engineers (ASME) Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code
contains requirements for vessels and vessel components with
respect to low-temperature operation.1 While these
rules are applicable to new construction, API 579-1/ASME
FFS-1 Fitness-For-Service uses the rules as the basis to
evaluate brittle fracture resistance for existing
vessels.2 This article discusses an approach and
spreadsheet tool that can be used to provide operating pressure
limits as a function of vessel-metal temperatures. These limits
can be used as part of a process hazard analysis (PHA) to set
operating pressure guidelines for process vessels identified
with the potential for low-temperature excursions from
auto-refrigeration of light, low-temperature boiling point,
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