Failure Analysis of Pipe System at a Hydroelectric Power Plant
Abstract:In this study, failure analysis of pipe system at a micro
hydroelectric power plant is investigated. Failure occurred at the pipe
system in the powerhouse during shut down operation of the water
flow by a valve. This locking had caused a sudden shock wave, also
called “Water-hammer effect”, resulting in noise and inside pressure
increase. After visual investigation of the effect of the shock wave on
the system, a circumference crack was observed at the pipe flange
weld region. To establish the reason for crack formation, calculations
of pressure and stress values at pipe, flange and welding seams were
carried out and concluded that safety factor was high (2.2), indicating
that no faulty design existed. By further analysis, pipe system and
hydroelectric power plant was examined. After observations it is
determined that the plant did not include a ventilation nozzle (air
trap), that prevents the system of sudden pressure increase inside the
pipes which is caused by water-hammer effect. Analyses were carried
out to identify the influence of water-hammer effect on inside
pressure increase and it was concluded that, according Jowkowsky’s
equation, shut down time is effective on inside pressure increase. The
valve closing time was uncertain but by a shut down time of even one
minute, inside pressure would increase by 7.6 bar (working pressure
was 34.6 bar). Detailed investigations were also carried out on the
assembly of the pipe-flange system by considering technical
drawings. It was concluded that the pipe-flange system was not
installed according to the instructions. Two of five weld seams were
not applied and one weld was carried out faulty. This incorrect and
inadequate weld seams resulted in; insufficient connection of the pipe
to the flange constituting a strong notch effect at weld seam regions,
increase in stress values and the decrease of strength and safety
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