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3 x API 560 Nozzle Load Limits

API Standard 560 Fired Heaters for General Refinery Service is referenced as the industry practice document to limit terminal loads at tubes and manifolds. However, these loads are considered by some analysts to be impractical for actual installations and, thus, a '3 x API 560' load limit practice has developed in the industry.

The rote use of this practice should not be followed since it may pose a safety and reliability risk for the facility if used without full comprehension. The API 560 document is published as a standard; hence, this indicates that there is broad industry consensus in its application. Arbitrary non-compliance should not be undertaken without fully examining the requirements of the standard and the potential impact of non-conformance.

API Standard 560 Terminal Loads

The terminal loads are provided in Tables 6 and 8 of the Standard where tube and manifold terminals, both welded and flanged, are recognized. The basis for these loads is not revealed; however, the Standard does present the criteria for limiting the stress of tube supports. These are similar in construct to the stress limits in the design of piping and pressure vessels given in the ASME Codes such as ASME VIII Division 2 and B31.3. It would be reasonable to consider these documents in formulating a rational assessment of terminal loads using a stress based approach.


Compare API 560 to ASME B31.3


Table 1, above, listing the stress limits for fired heater structural parts use higher stress allowables in the creep range compared to ASME Code pressure components which are listed in Table 2.

The piping analyst needs to be aware of this and consider the industry practice when evaluating nozzle overloads and considering the arbitrary use of the '3 x API 560' load limits.

The stress calculation for welded fired heater terminals can be readily completed and evaluated against the temperature independent and creep dependent B31.3 Code limits. A number of methods in the industry are available to evaluate flange loadings such as the pressure equivalent, 'Peq' method.

A combination of stress and load rating approaches should be used and a follow on risk assessment needs to be completed for thoroughness.