Finite element thermal analysis of the fusion welding of a P92 steel pipe
Abstract. Fusion welding is common in steel pipeline construction in fossil-fuel power generation plants. Steel pipes in service carry steam at high temperature and pressure, undergoing creep during years of service; their integrity is critical for the safe operation of a plant. The high-grade martensitic P92 steel is suitable for plant pipes for its enhanced creep strength. P92 steel pipes are usually joined together with a similar weld metal. Martensitic pipes are sometimes joined to austenitic steel pipes using nickel based weld consumables. Welding involves severe thermal cycles, inducing residual stresses in the welded structure, which, without post weld heat treatment (PWHT), can be detrimental to the integrity of the pipes. Welding residual stresses can be numerically simulated by applying the finite element (FE) method in Abaqus. The simulation consists of a thermal analysis, determining the temperature history of the FE model, followed by a sequentially-coupled structural analysis, predicting residual stresses from the temperature history.
In this paper, the FE thermal analysis of the arc welding of a typical P92 pipe is presented. The two parts of the P92 steel pipe are joined together using a dissimilar material, made of Inconel weld consumables, producing a multi-pass butt weld from 36 circumferential weld beads. Following the generation of the FE model, the FE mesh is controlled using Model Change in Abaqus to activate the weld elements for each bead at a time corresponding to weld deposition. The thermal analysis is simulated by applying a distributed heat flux to the model, the accuracy of which is judged by considering the fusion zones in both the parent pipe as well as the deposited weld metal. For realistic fusion zones, the heat flux must be prescribed in the deposited weld pass and also the adjacent pipe elements. The FE thermal results are validated by comparing experimental temperatures measured by five thermocouples on the pipe outside surface with the FE temperature history at corresponding nodal points.