Scholarly Communications Project

Life Prediction of Composite Armor in an Unbonded Flexible Pipe


James S. Loverich

Master's Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Science


Engineering Mechanics


Kenneth L. Reifsnider, Chair
Michael W. Hyer
Scott L. Hendricks

April 29, 1997
Blacksburg, Virginia


Composite materials are under consideration for the replacement of steel helical tendons in unbonded flexible pipes utilized by the offshore oil industry. Higher strength to weight ratios and increased corrosion resistance are the primary advantages of a composite material for this application. The current study focuses on the life prediction of a PPS/AS-4 carbon fiber composite proposed for the above employment. In order to accomplish this task, the properties of the material were experimentally characterized at varying temperatures, aging times and loadings. An analytic technique was developed to predict tensile rupture behavior from bend-compression rupture data. In comparison to tensile rupture tests, bend-compression rupture data collection are uncomplicated and efficient; thus, this technique effectively simplifies and accelerates the material characterization process. The service life model for the flexible pipe composite armor was constructed with MRLife, a well established performance simulation code for material systems developed by the Materials Response Group at Virginia Tech. In order to validate MRLife for the current material, experimental data are compared to life prediction results produced by the code. MRLife was then applied to predict the life of the flexible pipe composite armor in an ocean environment. This analysis takes into account the flexible pipe structure and the environmental and mechanical loading history of an ocean service location. Several parameter studies of a flexible pipe in a hypothetical environment were conducted. These analyses highlight certain loadings and conditions which are particularly detrimental to the life of the material.

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