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Anderson, Loren Runar et al "RING DEFORMATION"

Structural Mechanics of Buried Pipes

Boca Raton: CRC Press LLC,2000

Figure 3-1 (top) Vertical compression (strain) in a medium transforms an imaginary circle into an ellipse with
decreases in circumference and area.
(bottom) Now if a flexible ring is inserted in place of the imaginary ellipse and then is allowed to expand such
that its circumference remains the same as the original imaginary circle, the medium in contact with the ring
is compressed as shown by infinitesimal cubes at the spring lines, crown and invert.

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Deformation of the pipe ring occurs under any load.
For most buried pipe analyses, this deformation is
small enough that it can be neglected. For a few
analyses, however, deformation of the ring must be
considered. This is particularly true in the case of
instability of the ring, as, for example, the hydrostatic
collapse of a pipe due to internal vacuum or external
pressure. Collapse may occur even though stress
has not reached yield strength. But collapse can
occur only if the ring deforms. Analysis of failures
requires a knowledge of the shape of the deformed
For small ring deflection of a buried circular pipe, the
basic deflected cross section is an ellipse. Consider
the infinite medium with an imaginary circle shown
in Figure 3-1 (top). If the medium is compressed
(strained) uniformly in one direction, the circle
becomes an ellipse. This is easily demonstrated
mathematic ally. Now suppose the imaginary circle
is a flexible ring. When the medium is compressed,
the ring deflects into an approximate ellipse with
slight deviations. If the circumference of the ring
remains constant, the ellipse must expand out into
the medium, increasing compressive stresses
between ring and medium. See Figure 3-1 (bottom).
The ring becomes a hard spot in the medium. On
the other hand, if circumference of the ring is
reduced, the ring becomes a soft spot and pressure
is relieved between ring and medium. In either case,
the basic deformation of a buried ring is an ellipse
slightly modified by the relative decreases in areas
within the ring and without the ring. The shape is
also affected by non-uniformity of the medium. For
example, if a concentrated reaction develops on the
bottom of the ring, the ellipse is modified by a flat
spot. Nevertheless, for small soil strains, the basic
ring deflection of a flexible buried pipe is an ellipse.
Following are some pertinent approximate
geometrical properties of the ellipse that are
sufficiently accurate for most buried pipe analyses.
Greater accuracy would require solutions of infinite

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Geometry of the Ellipse

The equation of an ellipse in cartesian coordinates,
x and y, is:
a2x2 + b2y2 = a2b2
where (See Figure 3-2):
a = minor semi-diameter (altitude)
b = major semi-diameter (base)
r = radius of a circle of equal circumference
The circumference of an ellipse is p(a+b) which
reduces to 2pr for a circle of equal circumference.
In this text a and b are not used because the pipe
industry is more familiar with ring deflection, d.
Ring deflection can be written in terms of semidiameters a and b as follows:

. . . . . (3.1)

= decrease in vertical diameter of ellipse from
a circle of equal circumference,
= 2r = mean diameter of the circle
diameter to the centroid of wall crosssectional areas,
a = r(1-d) for small ring deflections (<10%),
b = r(1+d) for small ring deflections (<10%).
Assuming that circumferences are the same for
circle and ellipse, and that the vertical ring deflection
is equal to the horizontal ring deflection, area within
the ellipse is Ae = Bab; and
Ae = pr2 (1 - d2)
The ratio of areas within ellipse and circle is:
A r = A e / A o = ratio of areas.
See Figure 3-3.

Figure 3-2 Some approximate properties of an ellipse that are pertinent to ring analyses of pipes where d is
the ring deflection and ry and rx are the maximum and minimum radii of curvature, respectively.

Figure 3-3 Ratio of areas, Ar = Ae /Ao

(Ae within an ellipse and Ao within a
circle of equal circumference) shown
plotted as a function of ring deflection.

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What of the assumption that the horizontal and

vertical ring deflections are equal if the
circumferences are equal for circle and ellipse? For
the circle, circumference is 2pr. For the ellipse,
circumference is (b+a)(64-3R4)/(64-16R2), where R
is approximately R = (b-a)/(b+a). Only the first
terms of an infinite series are included in this
approximate ellipse circumference. See texts on
analytical geometry. Equating circumferences of the
circle and the ellipse, and transforming the values of
a and b into vertical and horizontal values of ring
deflection, dy and dx, a few values of d y and the
corresponding dx are shown below for comparison.

dy (%)

dx (%)

(dy - dx)/dy

For ring deflections of d = dy = 10%, the

corresponding dx is less than 10% by only
4.8%(10%) = 0.48%. This is too small to be
significant in most calculations such as areas within
the ellipse and ratios of radii.

An important property of the ellipse is the ratio of

radii rr = ry/rx, which is:
rr = (1 + d)3 / (1 - d)3

. . . . . (3.2)

rr = ratio of the maximum to minimum radii of
curvature of the ellipse. See graph of Figure 3-4.

Measurement of Radius of Curvature

In practice it is often necessary to measure the
radius of curvature of a deformed pipe. This can be
done from either inside or outside of the pipe. See
Figure 3-5. Inside, a straightedge of known length L
is laid as a cord. The offset e is measured to the
curved wall at the center of the cord. Outside, e can
be found by laying a tangent of known length L and
by measuring the offsets e to the pipe wall at each
end of the tangent. The average of these two
offsets is the value for e. Knowing the length of the
cord, L, and the offset, e, the radius of curvature of
the pipe wall can be calculated from the following
r = (4e2 + L2)/8e

. . . . . (3.3)

Radii of curvature of the sides (spring lines) and the

top and bottom (crown and invert) of the ellipse are:

It is assumed that radius of curvature is constant

within cord length L. The calculated radius is to the
surface from which e measurements are made.

rx = r (1 - 3d + 4d2 - 4d3 + 4d4 - .....)


ry = r (1 + 3d + 4d2 + 4d3 + 4d4 + .....)

An inspection reveals that a 72-inch corrugated

metal pipe culvert appears to be flattened somewhat
on top. From inside the pipe, a straightedge (cord)
12 inches long is placed against the top, and the midordinate offset is measured and found to be 11/32
inch. What is the radius of curvature of the pipe ring
at the top?

For ring deflection less than d = 10%, and neglecting

higher orders of d,
rx = r (1 - 3d), and ry = r (1 + 3d).
However, more precise, and almost as easy to use,
are the approximate values:
rx = a2 / b = r (1 - d)2 / (1 + d)
ry = b2 / a = r (1 + d)2 / (1 - d)
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From Equation 3.3, r = (4e2 + L2)/8e. Substituting in

values and solving, ry = 52.5 inches which is the
average radius within the 12-inch cord on the inside
of the corrugated pipe. On the outside, the radius is
greater by the depth of the corrugations.

d (%)




Figure 3-4 Ratio of radii,

rr = ry/rx = (1+d)3/(1-d)3,
(ry and rx are maximum and
minimum radii, respectively,
for ellipse) shown plotted
as a function of ring deflection d.

Figure 3-5 Procedure for calculating the radius of curvature of a ring from measurements of a cord of length
L and the middle ordinate e.

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Ring Deflection Due to Internal Pressure

Ring Deformation Due to External Loading

When subjected to uniform internal pressure, the

pipe expands. The radius increases. Ring deflection
is equal to percent increase in radius;

Computer software is available for evaluating the

deformation of a pipe ring due to any external
loading. Analysis is based on the energy method of
virtual work according to Castigliano. Analysis
provides a component of deflection of some point B
on a structure with respect to a fixed point A. It is
convenient to select point A as the origin of fixed
coordinate axes the axes are neither translated
nor rotated. See Appendix A.

d = Dr/r = DD/D = 2pre /2pr = e

d = ring deflection (percent),
Dr and DD are increases due to internal pressure,
r = mean radius,
D = mean diameter,
e = circumferential strain,
E = modulus of elasticity = s/e.
s = circumferential stress = Ee = Ed.
But s = P'(ID)/2A, from Equation 2.1,
P' = uniform internal pressure,
ID = inside diameter,
A = cross sectional area of wall per unit length.
Equating the two values for s , and solving for d,
d = P'(ID)/2AE

. . . . . (3.4)

Figure 3-6 Quadrant of a circular cylinder fixed at

the crown A-A-A with Q-load at the spring line, BB-B, showing a slice isolated for analysis.

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Consider the quadrant of a circular cylinder shown
in Figure 3-6. It is fixed along edge A-A-A, and is
loaded with vertical line load Q along free edge B-BB. What is the horizontal deflection of free edge B
with respect to fixed edge A? This is a twodimensional problem for which a slice of unit width
can be isolated for analysis. Because A is fixed,
the horizontal deflection of B with respect to A is xB
for which, according to Castigliano:
xB = f (M/EI)(dM/dp)ds

. . . . . (3.5)

xB = displacement of point B in the x-direction,
EI = wall stiffness,
E = modulus of elasticity,
I = centroidal moment of inertia of the cross
section of the wall per unit length of cylinder,
M = moment of force about the neutral axis at C,
p = differential load (dummy load) applied at
point B in the direction assumed for deflection,
ds = differential length along the slice, = rdq
r = mean radius of the circular cylinder.
It is assumed that deflection is so small that radius r
remains constant. It is also assumed that the
deflection is due to moment M, flexure not to
shear or axial loads. In Figure 3-6, consider arc CB
as a free-body-diagram. Apply the dummy load p at
B acting to the right assuming that deflection xB will
be in the x-direction. If the solution turns out to be
negative, then the deflection is reversed. From the
free-body-diagram CB,
M = Qr(1-cosq) + pr(sinq)
M/ p = r(sinq)

3-1 A plain polyethylene pipe of 16-inch outside
diameter and DR = 15 is subjected to internal
pressure of 50 psi. The surfaces are smooth and
cylindrical (not ribbed or corrugated).
(dimension ratio) = (OD)/t where t = wall thickness.
Modulus of elasticity is 115 ksi. What is the ring
deflection? DR is dimension ratio = (OD)/t.
(d = 0.28%)

3-2 At ring deflection of 15%, and assuming the

pipe cross section is an ellipse, what is the percent
error in finding the ratio of maximum to minimum
radii of curvature by means of approximate
Equation 3.2,
rr = (1+d)3 / (1-d)3?

3-3 A 36 OD PVC buried pipeline is uncovered at

one location. The top of the pipe appears to be
flattened. A straight edge 200 mm long is laid
horizontally across the top and the vertical distances
down to the pipe surface at each end of the straight
edge are measured and found to be 9.2 and 9.4 mm.
What is the radius of curvature of the outside
surface of the pipe at the crown?
Ry = 542 mm = 21.35 inches)

But because p approaches zero (differential),

M = Qr(1-cosq)
ds = rdq

3-4 Assuming that the ring of problem 3-3 is

deflected into an ellipse, approximately what is the
ring deflection? Maximum ring deflection is usually
limited to 5% according to specifications.
(d = 5.74%)

Substituting into Equation 3.5,

xB = (Qr/EI) (1-cosq) r(sinq) rdq
Integrating and substituting in limits of q from 0 to

3-5 What is the percent decrease in cross-sectional

area inside the deflected pipe of problem 3-4 if the
ring deflection is d = 5.74%?

xB = Qr3/2EI
This is one of a number of the most useful
deflections of rings recorded in Table A-1.

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3-6 What is the approximate ratio of maximum to

minimum radii, rr, for an ellipse?
(rr = 1.8)

3-7 A horizontal, rectangular plate is a cantilever

beam loaded by a uniform vertical pressure, P, and
supported (fixed) along one edge. What is the
vertical deflection of the opposite edge? The
thickness of the plate is t, the length measured from
the fixed edge is L, and the modulus of elasticity is
E. Elastic limit is not exceeded. Use the Castigliano
(y = 3PL4 / 2Et 3)
3-8 A half of a circular ring is loaded at the crown
by an F-load (load per unit length of the cylinder).
The reactions are rollers at the spring lines B, as
shown. If the wall stiffness is EI, what is the
vertical deflection of point A?
(yA = 0.1781 Fr3/EI)

3-9 What is the vertical ring deflection of the hinged

arch of problem 3-8 if it is loaded with a uniform
vertical pressure P instead of the F-load?

3-10 The top and bottom halves of the circular

cylinder of problem 3-8 are symmetrical. If the
spring lines of the two halves are hinged together,
what is the ring deflection due to the F-load and an
equal and opposite reaction at the bottom?
(d = 0.1781 Fr2/EI)

3-11 Sections of pipe are tested by applying an Fload. For flexible rings, the F-load test is called a
parallel plate test. What is the ring deflection if
elastic limit is not exceeded?
[d = 0.0186F/(EI/D3)D]

3-12 Find EI = f(Q/x) at point B for the ring cut at A

and loaded by force, Q.
(EI = 3p Qr/x)

3.13 A pipe in a casing floats when liquid grout is

introduced between pipe and casing. Find the
moment, thrust and shear at crown and invert.
(See Table A-1)

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