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**/ J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 398
**

Floating-roof steel tanks under harmonic settlement:

FE parametric study and design criterion

*

ZHAO Yang (赵 阳)

†

, CAO Qing-shuai (曹庆帅), XIE Xin-yu (谢新宇)

(Department of Civil Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China)

†

E-mail: ceyzhao@zju.edu.cn

Received Apr. 2005; revision accepted July 2005

Abstract: Large vertical steel tanks for fluid storage are usually constructed on soft foundations, so it is not surprising that the

tank wall will settle unevenly with the settlement of the foundation, thus inducing deformations and stresses in the tank. This work

investigates the linear static behavior of floating-roof tanks under harmonic settlement through finite element (FE) analyses. The

influences of the radius-to-thickness ratio, the height-to-radius ratio and the wind girder stiffness on the structural behavior are first

analyzed. Comparisons between the circumferential stresses in the wind girder and the vertical stresses in the tank bottom are then

made. The displacement and the stress along the tank height are also discussed, and the concept of tank division along its height is

presented. Finally, a design approximation for the radial displacement at the tank top is developed based on FE results, and a

settlement criterion based on the top radial displacement is proposed which can be used in practical design.

Key words: Steel tanks, Floating-roof, Differential settlement, Harmonic settlement, Finite element analysis, Design criterion

doi:10.1631/jzus.2006.A0398 Document code: A CLC number: TU33

INTRODUCTION

Vertical cylindrical steel tanks widely used for

fluid storage generally consist of a thin bottom plate, a

cylindrical shell, and a fixed or floating roof. Large

tanks constructed on soft foundations are susceptible

to various types of settlement deflections. The set-

tlement components are: uniform settlement, planar

tilt and differential settlement. The uniform settle-

ment and planar tilt cause rigid-body deflection or

rotation of the tank, and so, are of relatively little

importance (Marr et al., 1982; Kamyab and Palmer,

1989; Palmer and Ceng, 1992). The differential set-

tlement is usually minimal but leads to serious con-

sequence for the tank structure (Marr et al., 1982;

Jonaidi and Ansourian, 1996; 1998). Even minimal

differential settlement under the tank wall will induce

large distortion along the tank top and high stresses at

the tank bottom or in the top wind girder. The con-

sequences caused by the differential settlement be-

neath the tank wall are usually as follows: (a) Tank

top ovality which impedes free motion of the floating

roof and may cause the buckling of the top part of the

tank (Malik et al., 1977; Marr et al., 1982; Kamyab

and Palmer, 1989; Palmer and Ceng, 1992); (b) High

vertical local compressive stresses developing at the

tank bottom that induce local compressive buckling

(Godoy and Sosa, 2003); (c) High circumferential

stresses developing in the primary wind girder that

induce buckling (even yielding) of the wind girder; (d)

High stresses developing in the tank bottom that in-

duce rupture of the lap-welded bottom plate (Godoy

and Sosa, 2003); (e) Plasticity which may occur in

parts of the tank wall.

To analyze the effect of differential settlement

on the structural behavior of the tank, the settlement

beneath the tank wall is often expressed as a Fourier

series in harmonics:

Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE A

ISSN 1009-3095

http://www.zju.edu.cn/jzus

E-mail: jzus@zju.edu.cn

*

Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of

China (No. 50208017) and the Scientific Research Foundation for

Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars, Ministry of Education (No.

J20040157), China

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 399

0

1

cos( )

k

n n

n

u u u nϕ φ

=

= + +

∑

(0 2 ) ϕ < < π . (1)

Each harmonic settlement beneath the tank wall is

considered to obtain the displacements and the

stresses of the tank. The displacements and stresses

resulting from each harmonic component can then be

superimposed to obtain the complete solution.

In order to establish the expression for dis-

placements and stresses (mainly radial displacements

at the top and vertical stresses at the bottom) of the

floating-roof tank under harmonic settlement, three

shell theories ranging from inextensional theory,

membrane theory to modified Donnell theory were

applied. Kamyab and Palmer (1989) derived three

analytical solutions based on these theories and dis-

cussed the validity of each solution. They presented

three critical wavenumbers n

1

, n

2

, n

3

(n

1

=[36(1–ν

2

)]

1/8

×(r/h)

1/2

(r/t)

1/4

(1/I

ratio

)

1/8

, n

2

=[48(1–ν

2

)]

1/8

(r/h)

1/2

(r/t)

1/4

,

1/ 8

3 ratio 1

1.59 n I n = ), and all three solutions are only ap-

plicable to a certain range of harmonic wavenumbers.

Palmer (1994) carried out a simple parametric analy-

sis based on the membrane solution. Jonaidi and

Ansourian (1996; 1998) made comparisons between

the analytical solutions and the FE solutions for uni-

form and tapered wall thickness. They concluded that

the circumferential stresses at the top wind girder

govern the tank design.

It has long been recognized that the differential

settlement beneath the tank wall is harmful to the tank

structure and is the main cause for the collapse of

practical tanks. The many criteria proposed for the

differential settlement of large steel tanks were

summarized by Marr et al.(1982) as follows:

∆S<(r/2h)[w]

allow

suggested by Lambe and Penman;

∆S≤L/450 by Debeer; S

i

≤(L

2

/10hr)[w]

allow

by

Langeveld; ∆S≤(L

2

/2hr)[w]

allow

by Malik et al.;

S

i

≤11f

y

L

2

/Eh by Marr et al. In the above expressions,

S

i

is the out of plane settlement of the datum point i;

∆S

i

=S

i

–0.5(S

i+1

+S

i–1

); L=4πr/k is the arc distance

between successive data points i–1, i, and i+1. All

these settlement criteria for the maximum acceptable

settlement of steel tanks were proposed by geotech-

nical engineers by empirical or semi-empirical

methods, or were derived from analogy with other

structural criteria. Most of the criteria are independent

of the tank geometry and therefore seemed unsatis-

factory from the viewpoint of the structural engi-

neering. A reasonable criterion should be the one that

incorporates the tank geometry and based on the

structural response.

This work investigates the linear static behavior

of floating-roof tanks under harmonic settlement

through finite element analyses. The influences of the

harmonic wavenumber and various geometric pa-

rameters (including radius-to-thickness ratio, height-

to-radius ratio and the bending rigidity of the wind

girder) were analyzed. A design equation for esti-

mating the radial displacement at the tank top was

developed by regression based on the FE results, and

a simple criterion based on harmonic settlement

analyses was proposed.

FINITE ELEMENT MODEL

All analyses in this study were carried out using

the general purpose finite element package ANSYS.

For a tank under harmonic settlement, both the com-

plete model retaining the whole tank shell and the

half-wave sector model retaining only a circumfer-

ential central angle π/n of the shell (Fig.1, n is the

harmonic wavenumber) may be adopted. Both mod-

els lead to identical results for linear elastic analysis,

and the half wave model was used in this study due to

its high efficiency.

n π

v

,

R

o

t

x

,

R

o

t

z

=

0

v,w=0

n

u

n

u

in Cylindrical CS

u

w

v

v

,

R

o

t

x

,

R

o

t

z

=

0

Fig.1 Half-wave FE model of cylindrical tanks

A wind girder is often provided at the ta0nk top

to strengthen the open top. A wind girder in the form

of an annular plate with width h

g

and height t

g

is

considered in this study. The circumferential bending

rigidity of the wind girder is then expressed as

3

g g g

/12. I h t = A dimensionless parameter I

ratio

may be

π/n

In cylindrical CS

v

,

r

o

t

x

,

r

o

t

z

=

0

v

,

r

o

t

x

,

r

o

t

z

=

0

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 400

defined as the ratio of I

g

to the bending stiffness of the

shell D(=ht

3

/[12(1–ν

2

)]).

For the tank with a floating roof, a flexible seal is

usually provided in the space between the tank shell

and the edge of the roof, so that the roof provides little

restraint on the tank shell, and the influence of the

roof on the tank wall can be ignored. The nth har-

monic settlement u=u

n

cos(nφ) (0≤φ≤π/n) is imposed

beneath the tank wall. The bottom edge is simply

supported, and symmetric boundary conditions are

applied on the cut edge.

Thin shell element SHELL63 which has three

displacement and three rotational degrees-of-freedom

(DOF) is used in the shell and the wind girder mesh-

ing. The material of the tank is assumed to have

properties typical of steel: an elastic modulus E of 210

GPa and a Poisson’s ratio ν of 0.3.

PARAMETRIC ANALYSES

This section presents the results of a large FE

parametric study on the linear static response of

floating-roof tanks under harmonic settlement. Har-

monic vertical translations in range n=2~24 were

imposed. The parametric analyses covered a wide

range of tank geometry: radius-to-thickness ratio

r/t=500~2000, height-to-radius ratio h/r=0.5~2, and

wind girder stiffness I

ratio

=5~60.

Radius-to-thickness (r/t) ratios

the maximum value at n

3

, with the two values dif-

fering much. For a typical geometry of r/t=1000,

h/r=1 and I

ratio

=20,

3

,max n

w of the tank shell is about

1.5 times

1

n

w at the tank top. With increasing n,

transfer of the axial translations beneath the tank wall

to the tank top will become more and more difficult.

On the other hand, due to the radial restraints from the

bottom plate, induction of a large radial displacement

in the low region of the tank is unlikely, and the

maximum radial displacement of the whole tank shell

will not always increase with the increasing n. When

n>n

3

, the maximum radial displacement occurring in

the region near the tank bottom begins to decrease

(Fig.2b).

0

4

8

12

16

0 5 10 15 20 25

Wavenumber n

=1000

=1500

=2000

n

n

w

u

r/t

r/t

r/t

(a)

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

0 5 10 15 20 25

Wavenumber n

=1000

=1500

=2000

max

n

w

u

r/t

r/t

r/t

(b)

Fig.2 Radial displacement for tanks with various r/t ratios

(h/r=1, I

ratio

=20). (a) At the tank top; (b) On the tank wall

Fig.3 shows the variations of the axial stress with

n for tanks with various r/t ratios (h/r=1, I

ratio

=20).

The axial stress at the tank bottom increases with the

increasing n, but is usually very low for n<n

1

. The

axial stress reaches the maximum value in the region

near the tank top for n<n

1

. For harmonic numbers n

1

to n

2

, the maximum axial stress usually occurs in the

middle region of the tank shell. When n>n

3

, the axial

w

n

/

u

n

Wavenumber n

w

m

a

x

/

u

n

Wavenumber n

Fig.2 shows the variations of the radial dis-

placement with the harmonic number n for tanks of

h/r=1, I

ratio

=20 and various r/t ratios. Three critical

wavenumbers were n

1

=6, n

2

=9 and n

3

=14 for

r/t=1000, and are n

1

=7, n

2

=11 and n

3

=16 for

r/t=2000. The radial displacement at the tank top

increased with increasing n and reached the maxi-

mum value at the first critical wavenumber n

1

, then

fell rapidly when n>n

1

, and tended to vanish when

n>n

3

(Fig.2a). It was observed that the maximum

radial displacement did not always occur at the tank

top. For n<n

1

, the maximum radial displacement of

the tank shell usually occurred in the region near the

tank top, but usually occurred in the middle or lower

region when n>n

1

. For all wavenumbers, the radial

displacement of the tank top reached the maximum

value at n

1

while that of the whole tank shell reached

r/t=1000

r/t=1500

r/t=2000

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 401

0

3

6

9

12

0 5 10 15 20 25

Wavenumber n

=1000

=1500

=2000

3

10

n

n

N

Eu

×

r/t

r/t

r/t

(a)

0

3

6

9

12

0 5 10 15 20 25

Wavenumber n

=1000

=1500

=2000

3

,max

10

x

n

N

Eu

×

r/t

r/t

r/t

(b)

Fig.3 Axial stress for tanks with various r/t ratios (h/r=1,

I

ratio

=20). (a) At the tank bottom; (b) On the tank wall

stress reaches the maximum value at the tank bottom.

For floating-roof tanks under harmonic settle-

ment, the radial displacement at the top and the ver-

tical stress at the bottom are two important structural

responses. Variations of these two responses with the

r/t ratio are plotted in Figs.4 and 5 respectively for

two selected harmonic numbers (Fig.4 for a small

number n=4 and Fig.5 for a relatively large number

n=8). Four sets of wind girder stiffness I

ratio

are in-

cluded to cover a wide range of tank geometry. With

the increase of the r/t ratio, the radial displacement at

the top increases and the vertical stress at the bottom

decrease at both harmonic numbers. For a tank ge-

ometry of h/r=1 and I

ratio

=5, the top radial displace-

ment for r/t=2000 is about 1.2 times that for r/t=1000

when n=4, and this value becomes as much as 6 when

n=8. The bottom vertical stress for r/t=500 is about

7.5 times that for r/t=2000 when n=4, and 1.6 times

when n=8. This indicates that the tank behavior is

quite sensitive to the r/t ratio.

6

8

10

12

14

16

400 800 1200 1600 2000

r/t

=5

=10

=20

=40

n

n

w

u

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(a)

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

400 800 1200 1600 2000

r/t

=5

=10

=20

=40

3

10

n

n

N

Eu

×

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(b)

Fig.4 Variations of displacement and stress with r/t ratios

for n=4. (a) Radial displacement at the top; (b) Vertical

stress at the bottom

0

5

10

15

20

25

400 800 1200 1600 2000

r/t

=5

=10

=20

=40

n

n

w

u

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(a)

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

400 800 1200 1600 2000

r/t

=5

=10

=20

=40

3

10

n

n

N

Eu

×

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(b)

Fig.5 Variations of displacement and stress with r/t ratios

for n=8. (a) Radial displacement at the top; (b) Vertical

stress at the bottom

N

n

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

Wavenumber n

N

x

,

m

a

x

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

Wavenumber n

w

n

/

u

n

r/t

N

n

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

r/t

w

n

/

u

n

r/t

N

n

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

r/t

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 402

Height-to-radius (h/r) ratios

The influence of the height-to-radius (h/r) ratio

is more complicated. Generally, for two different

height tanks, the taller tank induces larger top radial

displacement and larger bottom vertical stress for n

below n

1

of the taller tank, while inducing smaller

displacement and smaller stress for n above n

1

of the

shallower tank. For n larger than n

3

, both the dis-

placement and the stress are almost independent of

the tank height.

Variations of the top radial displacement and the

bottom vertical stress with the h/r ratio are plotted in

Figs.6 and 7 respectively for n=4 and n=8 (r/t=1000).

For n=4 (Fig.6), both the displacement and the stress

increase obviously as the h/r ratio increases. For n=8

(Fig.7), the displacement decreases significantly as

the h/r ratio increases, while the stress increases with

the increasing h/r ratio and soon reaches its maximum

value, then falls significantly, because stresses or

deformations are governed by not only the h/r ratio

but also the harmonic number and r/t ratio. For tank

geometry of r/t=1000 and I

ratio

=10, the top radial

displacement for h/r=2 is about 2.6 times that for

h/r=0.5 when n=4, and this value becomes as small as

0.07 when n=8. The vertical stress at the bottom for

h/r=2 is about 25 times that for h/r=0.5 when n=4.

This indicates that the tank behavior is also sensi-

tively affected by the h/r ratio.

Bending rigidity of the wind girder (I

ratio

)

In general, for wavenumbers n<n

3

, the smaller

circumferential stiffness of the wind girder induces

larger top radial displacement and smaller bottom

vertical stress; while for n>n

3

, both the displacement

and the stress are almost independent of the stiffness

of the wind girder.

Variations of the top radial displacement and the

bottom vertical stress with the wind girder stiffness

I

ratio

are plotted in Figs.8 and 9 respectively for n=4

and n=8 (h/r=1). Four sets of r/t ratios are included to

cover a wide range of tank geometry. At both har-

monic numbers, the radial displacement at the top

decreases and the vertical stress at the bottom in-

creases as the I

ratio

increases, but both the displace-

ment and the stress tend to a constant for the I

ratio

larger than a certain value, particularly when n=8.

This indicates that, for a relatively small I

ratio

, the

variation of the wind girder stiffness leads to signify-

4

8

12

16

20

0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2.0

h/r

=10

=20

=40

n

n

w

u

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(a)

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2

h/r

=10

=20

=40

3

10

n

n

N

Eu

×

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(b)

Fig.6 Variations of displacement and stress with h/r ratios

for n=4. (a) Radial displacement at the top; (b) Vertical

stress at the bottom

0

3

6

9

12

15

0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2.0

h/r

=10

=20

=40

n

n

w

u

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(a)

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2.0

h/r

=10

=20

=40

3

10

n

n

N

Eu

×

I ratio

I ratio

I ratio

(b)

Fig.7 Variations of displacement and stress with h/r ratios

for n=8. (a) Radial displacement at the top; (b) Vertical

stress at the bottom

w

n

/

u

n

h/r

N

n

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

h/r

w

n

/

u

n

h/r

N

n

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

h/r

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 403

4

8

12

16

0 20 40 60

I ratio

=500

=1000

=1500

=2000

n

n

w

u

r/t

r/t

r/t

r/t

(a)

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

0 20 40 60

I ratio

=500

=1000

=1500

=2000

3

10

n

n

N

Eu

×

r/t

r/t

r/t

r/t

(b)

Fig.8 Variations of displacement and stress with I

ratio

for

n=4. (a) Radial displacement at the top; (b) Vertical stress

at the bottom

0

6

12

18

24

0 20 40 60

I ratio

=500

=1000

=1500

=2000

n

n

w

u

r/t

r/t

r/t

r/t

(a)

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

0 20 40 60

I ratio

=500

=1000

=1500

=2000

3

10

n

n

N

Eu

×

r/t

r/t

r/t

r/t

(b)

Fig.9 Variations of displacement and stress with I

ratio

for

n=8. (a) Radial displacement at the top; (b) Vertical

stresses at the bottom

cant change in the structural behavior; while for a

quite large I

ratio

, which means that a rigid wind girder

is provided, the displacement and the stress are almost

independent of the wind girder stiffness.

CIRCUMFERENTIAL STRESS IN WIND GIRDER

The analytical solution of the maximum

circumferential stress in the primary wind girder

given by Palmer and Ceng (1992) is

2

2

( 1)

y n

E n d

w

r

σ

−

= , (2)

where, d is the distance of the outer edge from the

centroid of the annular wind girder (d=0.5h

g

here).

For a typical geometry of r/t=1000, h/r=1 and I

ratio

=20,

if the thickness of the annular plate t

g

=t, then its width

h

g

=28.01t. Fig.10 shows the comparison between the

FE solution and the analytical solution. The analytical

solution agrees well with the FE solution excluding

n=12~16.

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

0 4 8 12 16 20

Wavenumber n

FE Solut ion

Equat ion

3

10

y

E

σ

×

Fig.10 Comparison of circumferential stress in wind

girder between FE and analytical solutions

Comparisons between the vertical stress at the

tank bottom and the circumferential stress in the wind

girder were also made for the above typical geometry

(Fig.11). It was found that the circumferential stresses

in the wind girder are much higher than the vertical

stresses at the tank bottom for small wavenumbers. So

the circumferential stresses in the wind girder will

govern the tank design. When n become larger, the

circumferential stresses in the wind girder tend to

vanish, but the vertical stresses at the tank bottom

increase rapidly, in which case the vertical stresses at

the tank bottom govern the design. The vertical

w

n

/

u

n

I

ratio

N

n

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

I

ratio

w

n

/

u

n

I

ratio

N

n

/

E

u

n

(

×

1

0

3

)

I

ratio

σ

y

/

E

(

×

1

0

3

)

Wavenumber n

FE solution

Equation

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 404

compressive stresses at the tank bottom may be high

enough to cause local buckling of the tank.

0

3

6

9

12

0 5 10 15 20 25

Wavenumber n

3

10

E

σ

×

x

σ

y

σ

Fig.11 Comparison between vertical stress at tank bottom

and circumferential stress in wind girder

TANK EFFECTS ALONG THE HEIGHT

As mentioned above, the maximum radial dis-

placement of the tank shell does not always occur at

the top, and the maximum vertical stress does not

always occur at the bottom. The maximum dis-

placement for each harmonic number occurs in a

certain location for a given tank geometry. For a

typical tank geometry of r/t=1000, h/r=1 and I

ratio

=20,

three critical wavenumbers are n

1

=6, n

2

=9 and n

3

=14.

Figs.12a and 12b show the radial displacement and

the vertical stress along the tank height at the three

critical harmonic numbers.

For the three critical harmonic numbers, the

maximum radial displacements occur in three critical

heights of the tank, which are the first critical height

1

n

h , the second critical height

2

n

h and the third critical

height

3

n

h . Four areas along the tank height according

to these critical heights can then be defined, which are

the upper area between the top and

1

,

n

h the mid-

dle-upper area between

1

n

h and

2

n

h , the middle-lower

area between

2

n

h and

3

,

n

h and the lower area between

3

n

h and the bottom (Fig.13). For the tank of r/t=1000,

h/r=1 and I

ratio

=20, three critical heights obtained

from FE analysis are

1

0.94 ,

n

h h =

2

0.47 ,

n

h h =

3

0.33 .

n

h h =

The maximum radial displacement occurs in the

upper area when n<n

1

, in the middle-upper area when

n

1

<n<n

2

, in the middle-lower area when n

2

<n<n

3

, and

0

200

400

600

800

1000

0 4 8 12 16 20 24

Maximum radial displacement

H

e

i

g

h

t

o

f

t

h

e

t

a

n

k

=6

=9

=14

n

n

n

(a)

0

200

400

600

800

1000

-3 0 3 6 9

Vert ical st ress ( )

H

e

i

g

h

t

o

f

t

h

e

t

a

n

k

=6

=9

=14

8

10 ×

n

n

n

(b)

Fig.12 Radial displacement (w/t) (a) and vertical stress (b)

along tank height

occurs in the lower area when n>n

3

. As mentioned

above, the radial displacement reaches the maximum

value in the tank shell when n=n

3

, that is, the maxi-

mum displacement occurs at

3

.

n

h A second wind

girder can thus be applied at the height

3

n

h to

strengthen the tank. For example, for tank geometry

of r/t=1000, h/r=1 and I

ratio

=20, when a secondary

wind girder of I

ratio

=20 is applied at

3

,

n

h the maximum

radial displacement reduces to only 38.66% of that

without a secondary wind girder.

When n<n

1

, the axial stress at the tank bottom is

usually very small, and the maximum vertical stress

occurs at the local region near the tank top which may

Upper area

Middle-upper area

Middle-lower area

Lower area

1

n

h

2

n

h

3

n

h

Fig.13 Divisions of the tank shell

σ

/

E

(

×

1

0

3

)

Wavenumber n

H

e

i

g

h

t

o

f

t

h

e

t

a

n

k

Vertical stress (×10

8

MPa)

H

e

i

g

h

t

o

f

t

h

e

t

a

n

k

Maximum radial displacement

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 405

lead to buckling of this region. When n

1

<n<n

3

, the

maximum axial stress usually occurs in the middle

region of the tank shell. When n>n

3

, the maximum

axial stress occurs at the tank bottom, and rapidly

increases with increasing n. The stress for large n is

usually high enough to lead to local compressive

buckling or yielding of the lower area of the tank.

Therefore, both the radial deformation and the

vertical stress at the tank top are mainly affected by

the low harmonic settlement, and the vertical stress

and the displacement in the region near the tank bot-

tom are mainly affected by the high harmonic set-

tlement, although large radial displacements are

unlikely to exist in the region near the tank bottom

due to the radial restraint from the bottom plate.

The concept of the tank division along its height

is of much significance for practical tanks. Harmonic

settlements from Fourier decomposition of the

measured settlement for the tank can be obtained for

predicting the displacement and the stress in the tank

wall. One can then pre-estimate the most serious

location in the tank shell, and some measures can be

taken for local strengthening of the tank.

SETTLEMENT CRITERION

Design equation based on the FE analyses

The analytical solutions in (Kamyab and Palmer,

1989) seem lengthy and inconvenient for use. A rela-

tively simple design approximation for estimating the

radial displacement at the tank top is developed by the

regression analysis on the FE results. The fitted curve

is given by:

2

0.5 0.15

2 0.075 0.76

ratio

1

9(1 )e .

1 0.02

n n n

n

w h t

u r r I

ν

− +

= −

+

(3)

The above equation contains the important ge-

ometry parameters including r/t, h/r and I

ratio

. Fig.14

compares the fitted curve and the FE results for

various typical tank geometries. The FE results are

close to and generally below the design curve, indi-

cating that the design approximation is appropriate

and conservative and can be used for determining the

top radial displacement for floating-roof tanks under

harmonic settlement.

0

5

10

15

0 5 10 15 20

Wavenumber n

FE

Equat ion

n

n

w

u

(a)

0

4

8

12

16

0 4 8 12 16 20

Wavenumber n

FE

Equat ion

n

n

w

u

(b)

0

3

6

9

12

0 4 8 12 16 20

Wavenumber n

FE

Equat ion

n

n

w

u

(c)

0

3

6

9

12

0 4 8 12 16 20

Wavenumber n

FE

Equation

n

n

w

u

(d)

Fig.14 Comparison between the fitted curve and the FE

results for various tank geometries

(a) r/t=1000, h/r=1, I

ratio

=20; (b) r/t=2000, h/r=1, I

ratio

=20;

(c) r/t=1000, h/r=0.5, I

ratio

=20; (d) r/t=1000, h/r=1, I

ratio

=60

Settlement criterion based on top radial dis-

placement

For a floating-roof tank, the radial displacement

w

n

/

u

n

Wavenumber n

FE solution

Equation

w

n

/

u

n

Wavenumber n

FE solution

Equation

w

n

/

u

n

Wavenumber n

FE solution

Equation

w

n

/

u

n

Wavenumber n

FE solution

Equation

Zhao et al. / J Zhejiang Univ SCIENCE A 2006 7(3):398-406 406

at the tank top should satisfy:

λ[w]<[w]

allow

, (4)

where, λ is a safety factor >1; [w] is the equivalent

radial displacement on the tank top; [w]

allow

is the

allowable space between the edge of the roof and the

tank shell for a floating-roof tank, which is specified

as ±100 mm in the Chinese code (GB 50341, 2003).

The top radial displacement under each har-

monic settlement can be superimposed at the phase

angle φ=φ

k

, in which k is the harmonic number cor-

responding to the largest amplitude of the harmonic

settlement, so [w] is given by

2

[ ] cos( ) ,

n

k i k i

i

w w i w i k φ φ

=

= + − ≠

∑

. (5)

After substituting Eqs.(3) and (5) into Eq.(4), the

settlement criterion may be expressed by the ampli-

tude and the corresponding phase angle of each har-

monic settlement:

0.5 0.15

allow

2

2

ratio

[ ] ( / ) ( / )

(1 0.02 ) 9(1 ).

n

k k i i

i

u u w r h r t

I

λ η η

ν

=

+ <

× + −

∑

(6)

where, η

i

is the combined coefficient for settlement

effects, η

i

=e

–0.075i

2

+0.76i

cos(φ

i

–iφ

k

), i=2,3,…,n.

Another settlement criterion may be developed

from the superimposed critical condition of the von

Mises equivalent stresses at the tank bottom, which is

much more complicated and is not given here.

CONCLUSION

This work investigated the linear static behavior

of floating-roof steel tanks under harmonic settlement.

The following conclusions can be drawn from this

study:

1. The deformation and the stress of the tank

vary with the tank geometries including the radius-to-

thickness ratio, the height-to-radius ratio and the wind

girder stiffness.

2. For harmonic settlement with small

wavenumbers, the circumferential stress in the wind

girder governs the tank design; while for high

wavenumbers, the vertical stress at the tank bottom

governs the design.

3. The maximum radial displacement usually

occurs in the region near the tank top for small

wavenumbers. With the increase of n, to transfer the

settlements beneath the tank wall to the top of the tank

is difficult. So the radial displacement reaches the

maximum in the region near the bottom for high

wavenumbers.

4. The concept of the tank division along its

height is of much significance for practical design of

tanks. One can pre-estimate the most serious location

in the tank shell, so that some measures can be taken

for local strengthening of the tank.

5. A design approximation for the radial dis-

placement at the tank top is developed based on FE

results, and a simple settlement criterion based on the

top radial displacement is proposed.

6. Further study should be carried out on the

buckling behavior of steel tanks under differential

settlement. The effects of nonlinearity and initial

imperfections should be taken into account.

References

GB 50341, 2003. Code for Design of Vertical Cylindrical

Welded Steel Oil Tanks. Chinese Planning Press, Beijing

(in Chinese).

Godoy, L.A., Sosa, E.M., 2003. Localized support settlements

of thin-walled storage tanks. Thin-Walled Structures,

41(10): 941-955. [doi:10.1016/S0263-8231(03)00043-0]

Jonaidi, M., Ansourian, P., 1996. Effects of Differential Set-

tlement on Storage Tank Shells. Advances in Steel

Structures. Proceedings of First International Conference

on Advances in Steel Structures, Elsevier, p.821-826.

Jonaidi, M., Ansourian, P., 1998. Harmonic settlement effects

on uniform and tapered tank shells. Thin-Walled Struc-

tures, 31(1-3):237-255. [doi:10.1016/S0263-8231(98)

00007-X]

Kamyab, H., Palmer, S.C., 1989. Analysis of displacements

and stresses in oil storage tanks caused by differential

settlement. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical

Engineers, Part C. Journal of Mechanical Engineering

Science, 203(C1):61-70.

Malik, Z., Morton, J., Ruiz, C., 1977. Ovalization of cylindri-

cal tanks as a result of foundation settlement. Journal of

Strain Analysis, 12(4):339-348.

Marr, W.A., Ramos, J.A.J., Lambe, T.W., 1982. Criteria for

settlement of tanks. Journal of the Geotechnical Engi-

neering Division, ASCE, 108(GT8):1017-1039.

Palmer, S.C., 1994. Stresses in storage tanks caused by dif-

ferential settlement. Proceedings of the Institute of Me-

chanical Engineering, Part E. Journal of Process Me-

chanical Engineering, 208(E1):5-16.

Palmer, S.C., Ceng, M.A., 1992. Structural effects of founda-

tion tilt on storage tanks. Proceedings of the Institute of

Mechanical Engineering, Part E. Journal of Process

Mechanical Engineering, 206(E2):83-92.

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