Inventive Resolution to Prevent Piping Vibration – A Case Study

Locharla, Haribabu (ADNOC Gas Processing) | Narayanan, Sathyanath (ADNOC Gas Processing) | Maskeri, Juma Al (ADNOC Gas Processing) | Rafiq, Shahid (ADNOC Gas Processing) | Ahmad, Alya Al (ADNOC Gas Processing)



Piping systems under multi-phase flow are subjected to unbalanced forces during plant operation and they experience vibration. Usually, the piping vibrations can be minimized by either modifying piping configuration/supports or alteration of operational modes. This paper presents an engineering study of a challenging piping vibration problem, which was resolved by an inventive and cost optimizing solution, as there are limitations in modification of existing pipe support/configuration. The inventive resolution reduced implementation cost to the Company without impacting the operations.

A comprehensive study was conducted to identify the root cause of piping vibration in rich amine piping system (36" pipe) from heat exchanger to amine regenerator, a tall column. The vibration screening and likelihood-of-failure calculations were carried out based on Energy Institute's guidelines and observed that the piping system is in concern/problem zones.

The process study including review of hydraulics, verification of line size and control valve design was performed to identify the root cause of piping vibration. The piping stress analysis (static/dynamic) was carried out with actual operating conditions, which is under multiphase flow with varying density/forces.

The process study revealed that the flow velocity and momentum are within process design requirements. However the flow in the piping system is multi-phase type, which generates unbalanced forces due to slug loads at each elbow of the piping system.

Based on piping stress analysis results, it was identified that the natural frequency of piping systems is variable as the whole weight of the vertical piping system is resting on spring type supports, which in turn, are supported from vertical vessel cleats. These supports are provided to take care of relative displacements between vessel and vertical piping systems. Piping configuration cannot be modified considering large bore piping and requirement of huge structural supports. The existing supports also cannot be modified as they are connected to pressure vessel and will impact its design.

In this scenario of multiple limitations, the indispensable flow induced vibrations of piping can only be minimized by damping the effect of flow-induced excitation with dampers. The dampers have elastic-viscous material in its main restraining body which can absorb the piping vibrations. The damper vendor performed the stress analysis, considering the effect of the damper in the whole piping system, and ensured the integrity of piping system.

The challenge of maintaining existing spring supports and achieving required damping of piping vibration was successfully accomplished. Considering large sized piping and requirement of major structural supports in case of modifications, proposed solutions could be treated as cost effective and innovative. Though it was not possible to eliminate the root cause, this alternate innovative solution helped to not only to minimize vibration, but also optimize implementation/shutdown costs. Vibration damper in piping systems is unique to piping installations.