Dents containing crack fields (colonies) were often observed in liquid pipelines. A recent PRCI research “Study of the Mechanism for Cracking in Dents in a Crude Oil Pipeline” showed evidence of corrosion fatigue cracking mechanism in dents and estimated the crack growth rate as a function of stress intensity factor using the measured spacings of fatigue striations from fracture surfaces based on the assumption that the formation of fatigue striations on a cycle-by-cycle basis. However, due to the lack of full-scale fatigue crack growth data, the success was limited in this study. This gap prompted PRCI to launch a full-scale experimental investigation of cracks-indents under cyclic pressure load in the simulated groundwater (NS4 solution) environment. The objective of the study is to determine the crack growth rate in dent as a function of stress intensity factor, the number of cycles to failure, and the failure modes of crack-in-dent. The investigation is aimed at establishing a framework for the remaining fatigue life prediction of cracks-in-dents in liquid pipelines. This framework would benefit liquid pipeline operators to manage the integrity of dents associated with corrosion fatigue cracking exposed to groundwater in a timely manner.

A total of six pipe samples containing cracks in shallow dents excavated from a 24-inch diameter liquid transmission pipeline were selected for full-scale fatigue tests. The test system developed under the project consisted of (1) a computer-controlled hydraulic pressure cycling system, (2) an environment chamber containing NS4 solution mounted on the dent region to provide a simulated field environment condition, (3) real-time crack growth monitoring systems including direct current potential drop (DCPD) system, Clip gage, and Strain gage, and (4) a data acquisition system. The cyclic pressure range used in the fatigue test was between 78 psig (7.2%SMYS, minimum) and 780 psig (72%SMYS, maximum) with R = 0.1, which was based on historical operational pressure fluctuation data. A constant frequency of 0.0526 Hz was selected for the testing to ensure the frequency requirement for corrosion fatigue was met.

In this paper, the objective, along with the background of this research, is discussed first. Then, the pipe sample preparation, experimental setup, and test results are presented. The fatigue crack growth rate as a function of the stress intensity factor is then discussed. Following this, the fatigue crack growth coefficients were estimated using the full-scale test data and FEA. Finally, the fatigue test results are summarized and presented the framework for the life prediction of corrosion fatigue cracks in shallow dents.

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