Investigating peak stresses in fitting and repair patches of buried polyethylene gas pipes
Nowadays, polyethylene composes a large number of natural gas distribution pipelines installed under the ground. The focus of the present contribution is two fold. One of the objectives is to investigate the applicability of polyethylene fittings in joining polyethylene gas pipes which are electrofused onto the pipe ends and buried under the ground, by estimating stress distribution using finite element method. The second objective is to study the effectiveness of polyethylene repair patches which are used to mend the defected pipelines by performing a finite element analysis to calculate peak stress values. Buried polyethylene pipelines in the natural gas industry, can be imposed by sever loadings including the soil-structure interaction, traffic load, soil’s column weight, internal pressure, and thermal loads resulting from daily and/or seasonal temperature changes. Additionally, due to the application of pipe joints, and repair patches local stresses superimposed on the aforementioned loading effects. The pipe is assumed to be made of PE80 resin and its jointing socket, and the repair patch is PE100 material. The computational analysis of stresses and the computer simulations are performed using ANSYS commercial software. According to the results, the peak stress values take place in the middle of the fitting and at its internal surface. The maximum stress values in fitting and pipe are below the allowable stresses which shows the proper use of introduced fitting is applicable even in hot climate areas of Ahvaz, Iran. Although the buried pipe is imposed to the maximum values of stresses, the PE100 socket is more sensitive to a temperature drop. Furthermore, all four studied patch arrangements show significant reinforcing effects on the defected section of the buried PE gas pipe to transfer applied loads. Meanwhile, the defected buried medium density polyethylene gas pipe and its saddle fused patch can resist the imposed mechanical and thermal loads of 22°C temperature increase. Moreover, increasing the saddle fusion patch length to 12 inches reduces the maximum stress values in the pipe, significantly.
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