Structural pipe-in-pipe cross sections have significant potential for application in offshore oil and gas production systems because they combine thermal insulation performance with structural strength and self weight in an integrated way. Such cross sections comprise inner and outer thin-walled pipes with the annulus between them fully filled by a selectable filler material to impart an appropriate combination of properties. Structural pipe-in-pipe cross sections can exhibit several different collapse mechanisms, and the basis of the preferential occurrence of one over the others is of interest. This article presents an exact analysis for predicting the elastic buckling behaviours of a structural pipe-in-pipe cross section when subjected to external hydrostatic pressure. Simplified approximations are also investigated for elastic buckling pressure and mode when the outer pipe and its contact with the filler material is considered as a pipe on an elastic foundation. Results are presented to show the variation of elastic buckling pressure with the relative elastic modulus of the filler and pipe materials, the filler thickness, and the thicknesses of the inner and outer pipes. Case studies based on realistic application scenarios are used to show that the simplified approximations are sufficiently accurate for practical structural design purposes.
Pipe-in-pipe Elastic buckling Stress function Elastic foundation