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Modeling and simulation of aerodynamic in a long span suspension bridge
F. Petrini
Structural Engineer, Rome, Italy

F. Giuliano

Department of Structural Mechanics, University of Pavia, Italy

F. Bontempi
Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy

Keywords: bridge design, bridge aerodynamic, CFD, large eddy simulation, turbulence
sented. The analyses have been conducted by Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) codes (ANSYS and ADINA), with Finite Element Method (FEM) and Large Eddy Simulation (LES) based approaches respectively. The calibration of turbulence mathematical models, the robustness of the overall computational model and the behavior changes due to deck geometry or presence of traffic, are investigated by sensitivity analyses.

ABSTRACT: Some aspects pertaining the modeling of the aerodynamic behavior of bridge deck sections are pre-





When a fluid flow impacts on a rigid body, aerodynamic forces (D – drag, L – lift, M – moment) generate themselves on the body (Fig.1). The forces depend from the shape of the body and from the relative angle of attack between the flow and the body. They are identified by non-dimensional coefficients c l , c d , c M which represent, respectively, the non-dimensional forces of lift, drag and moment acting on the body. Furthermore, a diagram which describes the variation of an aerodynamic force with the angle of attack � is called polar.

Figure 1. Aerodynamics forces

Aerodynamics of suspension bridge is usually investigated by wind-tunnel tests. In the last decade computational applications of fluid dynamic (CFD) have became an important resource to complete the experimental tests which are very expensive both in time and money. Especially during the design phases, there is the necessity to explore different and alternative deck configurations: that’s where CFD are more appreciable.

The main causes of errors in the investigation of suspension bridge aerodynamic are connected to the following aspects: a. Model similitude in wind-tunnel tests. In wind-tunnel tests, it is impossible to obtain a total similitude between the real structure and its reduced scale model. Therefore, specially in restricted flow-way (like near-traffic barriers places), the Reynolds number investigated by wind-tunnel tests is not equal to the real one; just because in restricted way there is not a complete formation of the boundary layer, the nonsimilitude effect increases with the reduced scale size of the model. CFD could be able to solve this problem because its results doesn’t depend from the reduced scale size of the model. b. Turbulence of flow. In CFD approaches of the aerodynamic problem, the turbulent character of the flow induces uncertainties and unquantifiable terms in the governing equations. c. Model approximations. The models which are used in CFD approaches solve the problem using some approximation (interpolation of unknown functions, viscosity models, turbulence models, etc.). An important (and usual) approximation has been used in this paper: the incident flow has been considered like laminar; doing so, only the turbulence due to the impact of flow on the structure has been considered while the natural flow turbulence has been neglected. d. Analysis results sensibility. Because of previous points, the results of the CFD analyses are


t ) � b( x. y ) � v x ' (t ) (5) and making an average on the Navier-Stokes equation for opportune periods T (removing fluctuant component of functions). k and � values are obtained by a system of two differential equations. in CFD problems there are four scalar unknown functions in time t: pressure p and velocity components in a Cartesian coordinate system v x . Therefore. 3 OBJECTIVES OF THIS PAPER where b is the mean time value component of the function and b' is the fluctuant value component of the function. with Large Eddy Simulation approaches (results are indicated below with LES legend). with Finite Element Method approaches and Rng turbulent model (results are indicated below with FEM legend).vectorial Navier-Stokes equation � � D � �f � gradp � �� 2 v � � v Dt (10) (2) where � is the fluid viscosity. temporal fluctuations of aerodynamics forces. for the simulation of physical phenomena (vortex shedding. y. and by ADINA code.1 RNG turbulent model With reference to a planar motion problem. b( x. The analyses have been conducted by ANSYS code. Equations (1) and (2) should be solved after fixing adeguate boundary and initial conditions. y. 4 CFD GOVERNING EQUATIONS � b dt � b t . t ) � v x ( x. y. 2002). because of low relative wind velocities (usually less than 80 m/s) one can consider the fluid incompressible. The following objectives are pursued: 1) modeling techniques optimization. y. � is the fluid density and D Dt is the total derivate operator. k is the turbulent kinetic energy and � is its dissipation velocity. z. and long enough that mean value of b' is equal to zero. 1 T t �T In this paper some applications of CFD on a suspension bridge deck section are presented: the reference is the Great Belt East Bridge (GBEB) located in Denmark (Fradsen. one considers temporal means of local-instantaneous functions values. the analyses need an optimization of the parameters.scalar continuity equation � divv � 0 (1) By introducing a new scalar entity � T (turbulent viscosity) such as � � v xi ' v x j ' � �T so that � � �v xi �x j (8) � e � � � �T equation (6) becomes � � �� � � ��v x � �v x �v x � � �v x � �v y �t �x �y � � 2vx � 2vx �p � �e � � �x 2 � �y 2 �x � (9) �f x � .usually very sensible to the analysis parameters. Mean value is calculated in a period T so short that b is constant in T.1. t ) will be a sum of two parts: where C is a constant. The four governing equations are: . v y . the x component of equation (2) becomes � � 2vx � 2vx � � � �p � �� � � �x � vx ' vx ' � �y � vx ' v y ' � � �x 2 � �y 2 � �x (6) � � � � �v x � �v �v � � �v x x � �v y x �t �x �y �f x � � � � � In equation (6) there are turbulent Reynolds stress terms: Txi x j � � R � � v xi ' v x j ' �xi � � (7) In aerodynamic design of suspension bridges.1 Aspect of turbulence In turbulent motion. punctual pressure values around the deck). z ) � b' (t ) (3) 466 ����������������������������������������������� . 1 T t �T � b' dt � 0 t (4) 4. RNG model fixes � T � C� k2 � (11) 4. Several models of turbulent motion are based on � T expression. in order to compare computational results with windtunnel data. z . Also using Newton’s approximation on fluid viscosity. adopting equation (3) for the component of velocity v x : v x ( x. 2) definition of the influence of deck details (traffic barriers) and traffic vehicles on most important aerodynamic design data: the aerodynamics polar. Every function b( x. v z .

2 Large Eddy Simulation (LES) LES basic concept is the following: making a computational grid with minimum size A. The main problem of LES method is to determine the optimal value of the constant C SGS in equation (16).07 18. Analyses Type of section (paragraph) Nude deck section (5.4. Previous studies (Bruno-Khris 2002) attributed these fluctuations to the relative positions of these vortexes (Fig.93 6. written in indicial form 2 �v i � �vi v j � � � 1 �p � 1 � � vi � �t �x j � �xi � �xi �x j vortexes loose themselves in the wake. C SGS is the Smagorinsky constant. one obtains 2 �� �v i � �vi v j � � � 1 �p � 1 � � vi � ij (13) � �t �x j � �xi � �xi �x j �x j where online elements are filtered. there is a vortex shedding phenomenon. Taking into account equation (6).2) Deck+traffic barriers+vehicles(5. Wind-tunnel tests show that. Flow screenshot (Bruno-Khris 2002) Table 1. when Figure 3. which changes with stream configuration and shape of the invested body. There are many models for these stresses. any function f is divisible in two parts: a calculable part f and a sub grid part f � . The GBEB and its deck section (meters) � SGS � �C SGS � �2 �2S ij � S ji � (16) is the sub grid viscosity. it fixes: 4 6.3) Type of analyses parameters optimization forces analysis forces analysis forces analysis ����������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 467 . Applications of this paper are summarized in Table 1 (12) and applying a spatial filter tothe equation (12). Furthermore. In equation (13) there are terms in the form: � ij � v i v j � v i v j (14) 27 which represent the sub grid Reynolds stresses. � is the grid size (and filter parameter) and Sij is given by: S ij � �v 1� � �v i � j � 2 � �x j �x i � � � � LES method is very suitable for the investigation of the aerodynamic of structures since the fluctuation of the forces is mainly due to big vortexes.1.1) Deck+traffic barriers(5. that are related to energy dissipations due to sub grid vortexes. when wind impacts on the bridge. there are aerodynamics force oscillations and some vortexes structures are generated around the deck. The most used is the Smagorinsky model. 2. LES computes fluids vortexes which have a size bigger than A and models vortexes which have a size smaller than A (sub grid vortexes). 3).07 � ij � �2� SGS S ij where (15) Figure 2. being the central suspension span of the bridge 1624 m long. In LES approaches. 5 CFD APPLICATION The GBEB and its deck section are shown in Fig.

.0 16. medium ( �y B � 2.0 10.0 6.4 �10 �3 ). 4) described below: 1. 3. the domain has been discretized by different size grids (Fig.10 -0.. 9) 0.. Deck section contour has been defined with a wall inside the domain.0 Figure 7.1 Nude section For the computational analysis. since they have a relative motion which generates a wake fluctuations that causes aerodynamic forces fluctuations.medium ( �y B � 1. one can see that FEM doesn’t simulate the lower deck boundary layer separation bubble..0 14.02 -0.005 0 10 -0. Because of the mentioned sensibility to C SGS (kd in ADINA code) constant values. a fluid domain with opportune boundary and initial conditions has been defined.1 kd=0.00 2.7 kd=0..5 kd=0. fine ( �y B � 8 � 10 �4 ). the LES approach needs a calibration/optimization process. tn Fine grid: (a) t=t0 Fine grid: t=t1 Figure 6.0 -0. Comparing Fig. also the Cl temporal value changes (Fig. 6.coarse ( �y B � 3 �10 �2 ). 2. the same vortexes are generated.5). Optimized parameters had been chosen according to these points: 1..0 8. medium LES (b) Analysis results show that FEM computes an aerodynamic force oscillation only by fine grid (Fig.2 kd=0. 7). while using the fine grid.01 -0. LES: Cl(t) functions (zero angle of attack) Cl 468 ����������������������������������������������� .4 kd=0.2 �10 �3 ). where �y is the orthogonal grid size from deck contour and B is the geometric reference size of the deck (31m).02 0.9 t'=t*U/B 4. good physical phenomena simulation (one can compare the computed flow with the experimental flow) (Fig. 0. FEM . furthermore FEM does not simulates the vortex shedding phenomenon: in fact the vortexes dissolve themselves before loosing in the wake. but they aren’t static. FEM: lift coefficient function Cl(t) for zero angle of attack Coarse grid: t=t0. the Cl(t) function regularity (one wants to obtain a function with only one dominant frequency value) (Fig.30 0. t1. When kd changes its value (always smaller than 1). . 8). mean Cl(t) value. 3 with Fig..015 0.0 12. Grid size: fine FEM (a).40 0.30 kd=0.. 2.20 0. two static vortexes are generated behind the deck.10 0. LES .5.015 -0. 6) clarify the reasons: using the coarse grid.20 -0.025 15 20 25 30 35 t (sec) 40 Cl fine medium coarse Figure 5. FEM: flow screenshots for zero angle of attack (b) Figure 4.01 0.005 -0. The flow screenshots (when Cl(t) is stationary) (Fig.3 kd=0.

11).1 0. the function Cl(t) appears regular.04 0.09 0.5 -1 -1. On the deck. LES: flow screenshots (zero angle of attack).06 0. 0. both FEM and LES values have good agreement with experimental data while on the lower surface both methods led to underestimate the depression for 0. so they are overestimated when kd =0.25 1 0.8 1 FEM (Ansys) LES (Adina) Sperimental (d) Figure 9.5 1 1. About the Cp values (Fig. Compared to LES. 0. aerodynamic actions output values have been compared to: 1.25 0.2 0.1 0. Strouhal number (b) 1. the distribution of the mean pressure coefficient values Cp on deck surfaces (upper and lower) (Fig. the physical phenomena importance decreases when the kd value increases. FEM-LES: mean pressure coefficients (Cp) on the deck ����������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 469 . FEM always overestimates pressure values on deck angles.5 1 1. kd=0.25 0 0 0. the lift Polar (Fig.12 0.75 0.5 -2 0.5.4 0.5 0. 9) the physical phenomena like vortex shedding.2 0.5 2 0. Cl(t) Fourier transform: kd=0.3 (b).5 0. FEM-LES: Cl(t) (a). 11).06 freq 0.5 1 0. kd = 0.5 0 0 -0. the lower deck boundary layer separation bubble is computed with its size.15 0.05 0 St Ansys (FEM) Adina (LES) Lecterature min FEM (Ansys) LES (Adina) Lecterature Max Sperim (b) (a) (b) Figure 10.5 1 0. In fact. both FEM and LES Strouhal numbers are within the literature computed values range (Fig.8 1 Cp Lower S urface X/B FEM (Ansys) LES (Adina) Sperimental Figure 11.02 0 25 27 29 31 33 t (sec) 35 Cl 0.5 -2 -2.5 F 0.5 (d) Upper Following these parameters. 2.5 1.5.3 (a).3 results the optimum value for the constant kd. with mean value inside the range of literature values.4 (c). 0.15 0.5 -1 -1.6 0. One can see from the flow screenshot (Fig.03 0 0 0.2< x B <0. anyway. while for the Strouhal number one has an opposite situation: the FEM Strouhal Lower 1. 10).6 0.5 Cp Uppe r Surface (c) X/B 0 0 -0. 12).3 F (a) 0. one sees that the mean value of Cl(t) and his oscillation amplitude computed by LES are bigger than the correspondent ones computed by FEM. on the upper surface. the value 0.2 and they are underestimated when kd =0.4 0.2 0. Comparing LES and FEM.08 0. 0. Adopting this value.5 (b) number is bigger than the LES one.2 (a).18 freq 2 (a) (b) Figure 8.1.

6 0.6 -0.2 0 -15 -10 -5 -0. the outputs of methods about the barriers effect on the polar values have an opposite sign. Viewing the near barriers stream flow (zero angle of attack) (Fig.4 0.8 0 Cl a (deg) 5 10 15 (a)-1 (b)-1 -1 LES (Adina) w ithout barriers LES (Adina) w ith barriers (b) 470 ����������������������������������������������� . at low angle of attack ( � � �5� ) both methods had computed a lowering of the lift line due to the barriers. 15).8 0.2 Aerodynamic influence of traffic barriers To evaluate the influence of particulars in bridge deck aerodynamic (traffic barriers) they have been modeled (Fig.2 -0.4 -0.8 0.4 -0.2 -0.8 -1 0 5 10 15 Cl a (deg) (a)-2 (b)-2 FEM (Ansys) LES (Adina) Sperimental Figure 12. the Fig.1 0. Near barriers flow (zero angle of attack). while at high angle of attack ( � � �10� ) the used methods are not in agreement.8 -1 FEM (Ansys) w ithout barriers Cl a (deg) 0 5 10 15 FEM (Ansys) w ith barriers (a) 1. 5. 14).6 0. FEM (a). both methods have a good agreement with experimental data.2 1 0. 12).4 0. central barrier (2). At negative angles.6 0. right front (3). left front (1). Deck section modeling 1 0. 11 are obtained by medium grid. 10 and the Fig. 1.6 -0.2 -0. 12).6 -0.8 0. (a)-3 (b)-3 Figure 14. one can see that the flow deviations due to the barriers in LES are bigger than in FEM.2 0 -15 -10 -5 -0. FEM-LES: lift polar lines About the polar line (Fig. due to the large computational time required by fine grid computations. One wants to highlight that.4 0. About the polar line (Fig.2 Figure 13. the most important design output.4 -0.2 0 -15 -10 -5 -0. LES (b). following the singular particle flow way.

especially for negatives angle of attack.2 -0.1): it has an high dependence on the shape of the invested body.2) (or the equivalent ADINA constant kd). 7. Vehicles modeling. The vortex shedding is computed by LES (in Fig. FEM (a). (b) Figure 16. 9). 17. such as in the nude section analyses. also. one can see that the traffic barriers introduction increases the disagreement of methods. Traffic barrier influence on polar line.1.2 1 0. too. one can see that the boundary layer size computed by LES is bigger than the one by FEM. Some big vortexes are generated around the body (deck plus vehicles): these vortexes are static in FEM output (medium grid had been used).4 -0. the methods have an evident disagreement: the previous considerations (Par. 19). 5. By a view of stream flow screenshots (zero angle of attack) (Fig.3 Vehicles aerodynamic influence Because of the not negligible aerodynamics influence of the traffic barriers.8 0. due to the high sensibility of LES method to this constant values (Fig. 5. The vehicles have been modeled like shown in Fig. About the polar line (Fig.4 0. the actual value could not be still the best with the barriers presence. one can see that in both methods the flow has been perturbed by the vehicles presence. 8. the optimum value of this constant was sought by the nude section configuration (Par. In fact.8 -1 0 5 10 Cl a (deg) 15 (a) FEM (Ansys) without barriers LES (Adina) without barriers FEM (Ansys) with barriers LES (Adina) with barriers (c) Figure 15. 18).2 0 -15 -10 -5 -0. Authors’ opinion is that the reliability of FEM results is better than the one of LES results: this is due to the Smagorinsky constant value (Par.6 -0. but they aren’t static in LES output. 16.2) about reliability of methods are valid here.18 the vortexes have varying position by time) and it is not computed by FEM.1. particular screenshot (b) t=t0 t=t1 Figure 17. LES (b). FEM-LES (c) In Fig. FEM: flow screenshot with vehicles (zero angle of attack) t=t0 t=t1 Figure 18. Also. also the aerodynamic influence of big object presence (like vehicles) has been investigated. 15(c) one can see that both methods are in agreement only for 0 � � � �5� . 4. LES: flow screenshot with vehicles (zero angle of attack) ����������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 471 . 5. Global screenshot (a).6 0.

1998. Paneer Selvam R. 1997. the lift polar values moved down.1 -0. it denotes a low robustness with regards to problem configuration and analysis parameters. About the structural and aerodynamics aspects. Volume 12.P. the barriers influence on the polar numerical values is better than at positive angles. ISEC-02.. 2002. 2004.. FEM has a very good computing of the mean numerical design values (polar lines and pressure coefficients). . Simultaneous pressures and accelerations measured full-scale on the Great Belt East suspension bridge. Facoltà di Ingegneria.1 0 -15 -10 -5 -0. Mcrogie A.. Journal of wind engineering and industrial aerodynamics..0. REFERENCES 6 CONCLUSIONS In this paper two kinds of aspects about aerodynamic of suspension bridge deck section have been investigated: 1. Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering. n°54/55. the authors think it will be important to study the relative vehicles position influence in future applications. B. 2004. Metodi computazionali per la valutazione delle caratteristiche aerodinamiche delle sezioni di ponti sospesi.6 0 5 10 15 � Cy a (deg) The vehicles presence on the deck changes the flow configuration around the body. Journal of wind engineering and industrial aerodynamics. 1995. University of Rome “La Sapienza”.2 0.. and LES (Large Eddy Simulation) using ADINA code. n°67/68. n°89. LES need optimization (which is difficult without having experimental data). Traffic vehicles presence About the computational aspects. FEM-LES: lift polar lines with vehicles The financial contribution of University of Rome La Sapienza. Importance of Deck details in Bridge Aerodynamics. Because of this great aerodynamic influence. Khris S. however.2 -0. Numerical simulation of flow around a box girder of a long span suspension bridge. Journal of wind engineering and industrial aerodynamics... Structural Engineering International.4 0. n°37.4 -0. Structural aspects.. the author’s conclusions are: � FEM has not a good computing of physical phenomena like vortex shedding and (by coarse grids) aerodynamics forces temporal fluctuations. Computational procedures in grid based computational bridge aerodynamics.. 1998. Mathematical and Computer Modeling. � LES has a good computing of both physical phenomena and mean numerical design values. COFIN 2004 and the support of professors G.. Numerical models for bridge deck aerodynamics and their validation. Morgenthal G. Sarkar P. 2.. Jones N. Mancini G. Aerodynamic characteristic of the edge-girder for cabled-stayed bridges. Bruno L. Ciampoli is acknowledged.. Fradsen J. Singh L. Deck particulars like traffic barriers b. Graduate Thesis. Jang S. Proceedings of the international symposium on aerodynamics/ Copenhagen/ Denmark/ 10-13. n°37. Proceedings of the international symposium on aerodynamics/ Copenhagen/ Denmark/ 1013 May 1998. With a computational fluid dynamic application on an existing bridge section. especially behind the vehicles. J. the traffic barriers downed the polar numerical values and the polar slope. Aerodynamic influence of: a. the authors’ conclusions are: � Especially at positive angles of attack. 2002. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS LES (Adina) with vehicles FEM (Ansys) with vehicles Figure 19. Politecnico di Milano/ Milano/ Italy.. 2003. Matsumoto M.H. This method denotes a high robustness with regards to problem configuration and analysis parameters. The effect of section model details on aeroelastic parameters. it generates a complex flow.3 -0.. Augusti and M.5 -0. At positive angles of attack. Flutter optimization of bridge decks: experimental and analytical procedure.3 0. 472 ����������������������������������������������� . Kuroda S.. Righi M.. 2002. Scanlan R. n° 4. two of the more used solver methods have been compared: FEM (Finite Element Method with classic model of turbulence) using ANSYS code.. I ponti a campata extralunga. IABSE conference.. On the other side. Effects of fluctuating wind directions on cross natural ventilation in buildings from large eddy simulation.. Petrini F. Quingyan Chen. 2001. An application of Navier-Stokes simulation in bridge aerodynamics. 1998. Jang Y. Computational aspects.. Takeuchi T. Kuroda S. At negative angles of attack. The validity of 2D numerical simulations of vortical structures around bridge deck. Buildings and environment. So. Bartoli G.P. Bruno L.