Whenever undesirable dynamic events occur within power plant, refinery, or process piping systems, specialty supports and restraints have the task of protecting the mechanical equipment and connecting piping from damaging loads and displacements. The array of components that may be affected include, but are not limited to, piping systems, pumps, valve assemblies, pressure vessels, steam generators, boilers, and heat exchangers. In particular, the dynamic events can be classified into two distinct types that originate from either internal events or external events. The internal dynamic load generating events include plant system start-up and shut-down, pressure surges or impacts from rapid valve closures such as steam and water hammer, boiler detonations, pipe rupture, and operating vibratory displacements that may be either low frequency or high frequency vibrations. The external dynamic load generating events include wind loads, earthquake, airplane impact to supporting structures and buildings, and explosions. Most of the aforementioned dynamic load generating events can be defined quite simply as impact loads, i.e., forces and moments that are applied over very short periods of time, for example, less than one second. While earthquake loads may be applied over a total time period of an hour or so, the peak loads and resulting displacements occur on a more sinusoidal basis of peak-to-peak amplitudes. One of the most common specialty restraint components utilized in the piping industry to absorb and transfer the dynamic load resulting from impact events is the hydraulic shock suppressor, otherwise known as the snubber. The snubber is a formidable solution to protecting plant piping systems and equipment from impact loading while not restricting the thermal displacements during routine operations. In the dynamic events that may be characterized by an impact type loading, snubbers provide an instantaneous, practically rigid, axial connection between the piping or other component to be secured and the surrounding structure whether it be concrete or steel (for example). In this way, the kinetic energy can be transmitted and harmlessly dissipated. In the vibratory environment, however, neither the impact load scenario nor the rapid translations are imposed upon snubbers, thereby presenting the competing intended application of the snubber to protect against impact loads versus, in many cases, the improper selection of the snubber to dampen vibratory (other than seismic) loads. The details of the hydraulic shock suppressor design are reviewed and discussed to exemplify why a case can and should be made against the use of snubbers in piping systems within an operating vibratory environment.

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