PUR and PPM Insulation Stress Analysis Methods

Related Topics

1 - backfill soil, 2 - expansion cushion, 3 - foundation soil


Fig. 1

Cross-section of pipes with industrial polyurethane foam (PUR) insulation in a polyethylene shell is a three-layered ring, at the center of which is a steel pipe. Since insulation and pipe work as a single structure (peeling is not permitted), longitudinal stretching of the steel pipe, polyurethane layer and polyethylene shell are equal. This allows the deducation of a fairly simple formula for normal stress in PUR insulation along a buried pipeline axis:

where σ and Е - normal stress and elastic modulus of the steel pipe, and Еппу - PUR elastic modulus.

Maximum shear stress along the pipeline axis due to friction of the polyethylene shell against soil occurring on the surface of the PUR layer attached to the external steel pipeline surface equal:

Where qтр - frictional force per pipeline length unit.

To determine stress in the cross-sectional (circumferential) direction of the PUR layer, a 1cm ring cut out of the pipe in a flat deformed state is analyzed  (fig. 2).

1 - foundation soil, 2 - polyethylene casing, 3 - foamed polyurethane, 4 - steel pipe

Fig. 2

Soil pressure is divided into two parts: vertical and horizontal. Vertical load is equal to soil layer pressure for the corresponding depth. This applies only to the top half of the ring, while base elastic properties determined by analysis act on the lower half. Horizontal load is distributed along the trapeze and is equal to vertical pressure multiplied by the lateral pressure factor (fig. 4).

Fig. 4

The following factors are taken into account: soil pressure from the top and side (for radial σr and tangent στ loads at each surface point of insulation casing), soil detachment due to cross-section ovalization, thrust force from internal pressure preventing ovalization. Elastic restraints modeling soil apply only for compression. Soil elastic resistance is calculated through analysis. Detachment zone is determined through iteration analysis. At each step, radial restraints with stretching are disabled.

Stress analysis for PPM insulation is the same as for PUR insulation.

Fig. 5

6 stress tensor components are calculated (fig. 5). Equivalent stress is determined based on the theory of greater sheer stress as a difference between the first and third main stress:

Allowable stress for PUR insulation layer:


allowable stress during stretch-compression,

allowable stress for tangent shift (circumferential),

allowable stress for longitudinal shift (along the pipe axis).

Allowable stress for PPM insulation layer:


allowable stress during stretch-compression,

allowable stress for shift.

During analysis, a non-linear equation system is solved. Non-linearity is due to accounting for detachment of the elastic base modeling soil in the top part of the pipe and the presence of internal pressure (considering geometric stiffness due to pressure). In some cases, iteration may not produce results. There can be two causes:


1. Alexandrov A.V., Magalif V.Y., Matveev A.V., Stress analysis of foamed polyurethane insulation, «Pipelines and ecology», 2003, №3, ZAO «NPO Stroypolimer»

2. GOST 30732-2006, Steel pipes and fittings with foamed polyurethane insulation in polyethylene casing, Gosstroy of Russia, 2006