There is an ever-increasing demand for life extension of existing floating platforms worldwide. To adequately support these life extension projects there is a need to predict fatigue life of floating structures more accurately using a time domain approach. However, structural fatigue damage calculations using time domain response analysis can be very time consuming and challenging. An efficient and effective structural analysis methodology is developed to calculate accumulated fatigue damage for structural connections in a floating offshore platform using a response-based time domain routine. The methodology discussed in this paper can be applied to estimate fatigue life for hull critical connections in floaters such as Spars, TLPs or Semis as well as local structural supports such as mooring foundations and riser foundations. It also provides the option to generate stress histograms that can be utilized for Fracture Mechanics Evaluation (FME) of welds in structural connections.
To calculate the accumulated fatigue damage at desired locations on a floating platform, the time domain analysis employs a Stress Intensification Factor (SIF) which correlates global loads with local stresses. In cases where a crack initiation is observed on a structural connection, fracture mechanics is used to evaluate the structural integrity of the weld. The FME requires fatigue stress range histograms as one of the input parameters. The stress ranges and cycles that are calculated and used to compute the fatigue damage using this methodology can be converted to stress range histograms which can then be used in the FME. The standard method to compute fatigue damage for a structural connection is by using an S-N fatigue approach under the assumption of linear cumulative damage (Palmgren-Miner rule). The methodology discussed in this paper uses a rainflow counting algorithm to effectively calculate the stress range and cycles which are then utilized for computing the fatigue damage.
This methodology can be applied to green field projects involving a new design or for life of field studies of an existing platform requiring life extensions. It is particularly beneficial for brownfield projects where more accurate re-evaluation of fatigue life is needed. It can also provide Clients with reliable Engineering Criticality Assessments (ECA) and enable them to plan in-service inspections and repair work. As an application, a typical truss connection for a Spar platform is used to evaluate structural fatigue damage and generate the stress range histogram for FME. Also, a comparative study is performed for a typical truss connection fatigue damage result between the traditional approach used and the method discussed in this paper.