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Fatigue Behaviour of Coke Drum Materials and Its Application to Extend the Service Lives of Coke Drums Open Access


Other title
Fatigue testing
Thermal mechanical fatigue
Coke Drums
Fatigue life prediction
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chen, Jie
Supervisor and department
Xia, Zihui (Mechanical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Xia, Zihui (Mechanical Engineering)
Hui, David (University of New Orleans)
Chen, Weixing (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Mertiny, Pierre (Mechanical Engineering)
Ma, Yongsheng (Mechanical Engineering)
Wang, Xiaodong (Mechanical Engineering)
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Coke drums are vertical pressure vessels used in the delayed coking process in petroleum refineries. They are normally constructed of carbon or low carbon alloy steels internally clad with stainless steel to protect the coke drums from corrosion during operations. Significant temperature variation during the delayed coking process causes damage in coke drums in the form of bulging and cracking. Hundred thousands of dollars are spent to repair the units and the loss from the disruption of the production could be even much higher. There are studies on the fatigue life estimation for coke drums, but these are based on uniaxial strain-fatigue life curves at various constant temperatures, which do not consider cyclic temperature conditions. There are relatively few investigations involving experiments to simulate and predict the damage and fatigue life of coke drums. To more accurately analyze the fatigue damage mechanism of coke drums, a systemic-experimental investigation on fatigue behaviours of coke drum materials has been carried out in this study. A thermal-mechanical fatigue (TMF) testing system has been successfully designed and developed to perform the complex TMF tests. The developed system can successfully simulate cyclic thermal-mechanical loading conditions experienced by coke drums. In addition, an alternative strain control and measurement technique is developed for strain-controlled fatigue tests at elevated temperature. The fatigue lives of the candidate materials are first investigated under isothermal condition. More complex TMF tests are then performed on these candidate materials. Two coke drum base materials (C-½Mo and 2¼Cr-1Mo) are investigated and compared under isothermal and thermal-mechanical cyclic loadings. Based on the current experimental study and, in combination with the API survey data, it is concluded that C-½Mo is a better base material than 2¼Cr-Mo from the standpoints of fatigue resistance. Since the coke drums are constructed by welding a number of shell plates, the fatigue behaviours of weld and heat affected zone (HAZ) material are also studied. A modified four-point correlation (FPC) method has been developed to predict the fatigue lives of weld and HAZ material based on their tensile properties. Finally, based on the TMF data of the coke drum materials obtained through this study, along with a new statistical fatigue life prediction method developed in our group, the fatigue lives of coke drums can be more reasonably predicted. This study leads to better understanding of damage mechanisms occurring in coke drums. The comprehensive coke drum material data obtained through this study are valuable for designers and operators of coke drums. More important, a number of useful guidelines including optimal selection of materials, more accurate analysis method and reliable life prediction method for coke drums are summarized. Application of these guidelines will be beneficial for designing and manufacturing of more robust new coke drums, as well as for extending service lives of the existing coke drums from the operational and maintenance point of view.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
J. Chen and Z. Xia, "Fatigue behaviour of coke drum materials under thermal mechanical cyclic loading," Theoretical Applied Mechanical Letters 2014, 4(4):6-041006J. Chen and Z. Xia, "A fatigue life prediction method for coke drum base, weld, and HAZ materials from tensile properties," Materials & Design Vol. 63, 575-583, 2014J. Chen, T. Yamamoto, Z. Xia and K. Esaki, "Experimental Evaluation of Fatigue Life of Coke Drum Materials with Weld Sections," in the proceeding of ASME 2013 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference, Vol. 3: Design and Analysis, Paris, France, July 14-18, 2013

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