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Hazard and Safety Investigations for LNG Tanks

Part 1 : Earthquakes
Josef Rötzer, Hamish Douglas, and Helmut Maurer, DYWIDAG International, Germany

The authors address the external hazards to aboveground full containment LNG storage tanks. Part 1 in this issue
deals with seismic design, and it is concluded that a base isolation system allows a significant reduction
of the earthquake forces on the tank, and provides a reliable safety factor against earthqauake damage.
Part 2 will deal with accidental events, blast and impact.

ur industrialized world is charac- (OBE - Operating Basis Earthquake Sce- considered. ing the vibration behaviour must be
terized by an increasing energy nario). The concrete outer tank shall also Because of the relevance to the overall implemented.
demand. As a result more and resist emergency load cases such as fire, safety and economics of tank design, this In the case of conventional structures
even larger LNG storage tanks are impact, blast wave, seismic load (SSE - article presents more detailed information and buildings, plastic deformation capa-
needed. If these are to be built in locations Safe Shutdown Earthquake Scenario) and concerning earthquake design. In a subse- bilities are utilized to the full in order to
endangered by natural catastrophes or liquid spill due to failure of the inner tank quent issue of the LNG Journal, the acci- reduce the earthquake effects by means
near densely populated areas, engineers (see Figure 1). An economic design of dental events, blast and impact will be of the damping and ductility associated
dealt with. with their deformation properties. In
the case of storage containments, the
Seismic Design requirement of tightness and the contain-
Design Method: Large-scale storage tanks ment function do not allow for inelastic
have a fundamental natural period of design spectra (reduction factors). For
about 2 to 3 Hz, depending on their shape example, according to Eurocode 8, the
and geometry, and are more or less with- analysis has to assume linear elastic
in the range of maximum excitation of behaviour, allowing only for localized
typical severe earthquakes. They will in non-linear phenomena without affecting
fact be subjected to much stronger accel- the global response [4].
erations than the ground beneath them. Structures that have only minimal
According to Eurocode 8 [2], for example, capacity to absorb energy by plastifica-
the peak amplification factor is approxi- tion, such as LNG storage tanks, require
mately 3.5. Earthquakes are thus a deter- to be protected from damage, especially
mining factor with regard to the avail- as they involve a high danger potential.
ability and integrity of LNG tanks in This can be achieved by a base isolation
areas of seismic activity. In this regard, system.
additional measures are necessary in For an earthquake design, all structures
order to avoid damage. have to be treated in the same way. First,
Fundamental to the above has been the failure modes and the corresponding
the assumption that the motions experi- design criteria must be identified. Typical-
enced by the structure are the same as ly for an LNG containment, this is the
the free-field motion at ground level. This uplifting of the inner tank and subsequent
is the case for structures founded buckling of the tank wall and its sliding
on rock or other rigid foundation materi- potential due to horizontal excitation. Sec-
al [3]. For structures on softer soils, ond, a suitable design model has to be cre-
the foundation motion may be signifi- ated for the analysis.
cantly different from the free-field For the investigation of the above
ground motion due to the damping of risks, the idealization of the tank struc-
the soil. This interaction between the ture using a tuning fork model is best
structure, its foundation and the support- suited; see Figures 2 and 3. From a design
Figure 1: Load cases for LNG-tank design ing soil medium is a natural form of ener- philosophy point view, a crucial question
gy dissipation. If the tanks are founded is to what extent the reliability and
on rock or if the tanks are exposed to accuracy of an analysis can be improved
must avoid disasters and limit the conse- the reinforced and prestressed concrete severe earthquake excitations where the by a more discrete idealization. For prac-
quences of every conceivable scenario. structure for these load cases is only pos- natural damping of the foundation is tical design and for the study of the
Nowadays typical LNG terminals have sible if non-linear material behaviour is inadequate, effective means of influenc- relevant parameters it seems more effi-
aboveground storage tanks with capaci-
ties ranging from 160,000 m³ to 180,000 m³; Figure 2: Tuning Fork Model of Non-isolated Tank Figure 3: Tuning Fork Model of Isolated Tank
capacities of 200,000 m³ are under plan-
ning. In the case of a containment failure,
the economic damage would be substan-
tial and the danger to life, property and
environment correspondingly great.
Consequently, storage tanks for liquefied
gases at low temperature require most
advanced design and construction tech-
niques to ensure that the potential risk
involved is reduced to a minimum. The
state of the art calls for a full containment
system with a prestressed concrete outer
tank [1].
The tank design shall consider opera-
tion load cases such as internal pressure
up to 290 mbar, limitation of settlements,
hydro test with a minimum of 125 % of
the filling load as well as seismic loading

LNG journal July/August 2005 page 23

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cient in most cases to apply simplified tem can be appreciated, when the acceler-
models which are related to the individ- ations for non-isolated and isolated tanks
ual design tasks rather than increasing are compared, see Figure 4, which shows a
the number of elements in a finite ele- typical spectrum for a loose to medium
ment analysis. Such a procedure allows cohesionless soil, a type frequently
the opportunity to study the essential encountered in locations geographically
engineering questions in a clear and com- and logistically suitable for the location of
prehensive manner. LNG terminals.
Non-isolated Structure: The dynamic The deformations of an inner tank sup-
study of a tank system must comprise all ported by isolators are in the elastic range
relevant parameters. The effect of earth- and the inner tank is stressed far below the
quake excitations on a non-isolated tank buckling limit. Without base isolation the
system can be illustrated by the example deformations of the steel tank increases up
of the inner steel tank of a full containment to the plastic range, causing uplifting and
LNG tank. The effect of the LNG liquid is probably buckling.
described by the impulsive liquid mass
mimp rigidly connected to the inner tank Isolators
and the sloshing mass msl, which, howev- The modern base-isolated structures are
er, has only a minor influence on the supported by horizontally flexible but ver-
dynamic behaviour of the inner tank due tically rigid bearings interposed between
to its low period. the base of the structure and its founda-
If the horizontal inertial force created tion. Typically two types of isolators are
by the accelerated masses mimp and the applied in the LNG tank design in seismic
resulting overturning moment exceeds a hazardous areas: High Damping Rubber
certain value, then the steel tank lifts up Bearings (HDRB) and spheric sliding iso-
resulting in plastic deformation of the bot- lators like Friction Pendulum Bearings Figure 4: Spectrum (EC8, soil type D) with shifting of the period
tom corner [5]. The deformation of a non- (FPB).
anchored tank due to the uplift increases The basic components of the laminated
rapidly and simultaneously the vertical HDRB are thin steel and rubber plates the earthquake. The period and the The fundamental natural period is
stresses on the opposite side. The wall built in alternate layers. These bearings are damping are characteristics of the bear- shifted to about 2 seconds using High
may buckle (elephant footing). The verti- similar to bridge bearings; however, new ings that can be defined independently. Damping Rubber Bearings and up to 5 sec-
cal stress, which may cause buckling, is a rubber compounds were developed in Dynamic periods from 2 to 5 seconds can onds using spheric sliding isolator type
critical design criterion. Due to the uplift- order to increase the damping properties. be achieved. bearings. This shifting of the period
ing earthquake, excitations with a Peak The HDRB system is mainly characterized results in a reliable safety factor against
Ground Acceleration of approximately 0.3 by two parameters: the natural frequency Conclusion uplifting and prevents damage of the
g may cause considerable damage to an and the damping constant. A central lead The relation between acceleration and inner tank due to buckling.
unanchored inner tank. core can be used to provide energy dissi- period is illustrated in Figure 4. The The refinement of dynamic analysis
The uplifting may be avoided by pation. A two second time period is rec- amplification factor, which is the enhance- techniques allows a precise assessment of
anchoring of the inner tank wall into the ommended for this type of bearing. ment of the structural excitation in relation the risk resulting from earthquake load-
bottom slab of the concrete outer tank. The The FPB consist of two high-grade to the earthquake acceleration, is in the ing at any given location. Simplified
anchors, however, penetrate the bottom stainless steel plates with upper and lower range of 3 to 3.5 for a non-isolated full con- analysis methods developed by the
insulation, the secondary tank bottom and concave surfaces. An articulated slider tainment tank. The implementation of a authors allow reliable technical feasibility
the vapour barrier. Furthermore the weld- moves along the concave surface, when base isolation system allows a significant study at an early stage in project devel-
ing for fixing the anchor straps on the activated by an earthquake. The sliding reduction of the earthquake forces on the opment when a full dynamic analysis
inner tank shell causes additional stresses surface is coated with a high-strength self- tank by approximately 80%. may not be justified. „
in a heavily loaded area. Because of these lubricating bearing liner. The lateral
potential weak points in the design, par- movements are restricted by a circular
ticularly in the case of earthquake induced retainer.
[1] Douglas H.R., Maurer H.: Outer Pre- Natural Gas (LNG), National Fire Protec-
loads, anchors are frequently not permit- The Friction Pendulum steel seismic
stressed Concrete Tanks. A Vital Compo- tion Association, 2001
ted by plant owners. isolators use geometry and gravity to
Base-isolated Structure: In order achieve the desired seismic isolation nent in the Safety of LNG Terminals. LNG [4] Malhotra P.K., Wenk Th., Wieland M.:
to design the tank structure for high results. The supported structure Journal, Nelton Publications, England, Simple Procedures for Seismic Analysis of
earthquake accelerations, the arrange- responds to earthquake motions with May/June 1998 Liquid-Storage Tanks, Journal of Structural
ment of a base isolation system is the small amplitude pendulum motions. [2] Eurocode 8, Design of Structures for Engineering International, IABSE, 1997.
most efficient way to avoid the risk of The bearings `ìsolate´ the structure Earthquake Resistance. Final Draft 2001. [5] Böhler J., Baumann Th.: Engineering
buckling of the inner tank shell and fulfil by taking advantage of this pendulum BSI London Aspects towards Seismic Base Isolation,
the tightness requirements of the outer effect to lengthen the natural period [3] NFPA 59A, Standard for the Produc- Post-SMIRT Conference Seminar on Seis-
tank. The main concept in base isolation of the structure. The dynamic friction tion, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied mic Isolation, Taormina, Italy, 1997
is to reduce the fundamental frequency of force generated provides the required
structural vibration to a value lower than damping to absorb the energy of
the predominant energy-containing fre-
quencies of the earthquake ground
motion. Hamish Douglas graduat- Helmut Maurer gradu- Josef Rötzer graduated in
The isolation system requires an addi- ed in Civil Engineering from ated in Civil Engineer- Civil Engineering (Dipl.-
tional foundation slab and pedestals on London University in 1968. ing (Dipl.-Ing.) from the Ing.) from the Technical
which the isolators can be located. The Following design office Technical University of University of Munich in
bearings allow large horizontal displace- work and ten years overseas Stuttgart in 1971 and 1988. After design office
ments, which are necessary to increase the working on large-scale
joined DYWIDAG in work with DYWIDAG he
period T, and they are stiff in the vertical hydro projects, he joined DYWIDAG in 1979,
1972. Since 1998 he has concluded research at the
direction. The analysis model of the tank and was responsible for several large proj-
been engaged in the seismic und structural University of the German Armed Forces in
system is extended by the isolators, repre- ects. As a Director of DYWIDAG Interna-
tional, he is responsible for Gas and Petro- design of tank systems for refrigerated lique- Munich with a Ph.D. Back at DYWIDAG, he
sented by an additional horizontal spring,
chemical Projects worldwide, with LNG tank- fied gases and was responsible for the seismic has been engaged since 1995 in the seismic
and is shown in Figure 3.
The earthquake energy is essentially age projects in Brunei, Korea, Abu Dhabi, analysis and engineering of the concrete con- and structural design of Petrochemical Pro-
dissipated by the large deformation of the Oman, Trinidad and Spain. He is a voting tainments for the LNG/LPG tankage in jects, Air Separation Plants and Power Plants
isolators. The displacement of the steel member of the ACI Committee drafting the Inchon / Korea, Ruwais / Abu Dhabi, Al worldwide. He was responsible for the engi-
tank is comparatively small and the over- new Code for Design and Construction of Ghalilah / Oman and Trinidad. neering of the LNG tankage in Sagunto,
turning moment is reduced and does not Concrete Structures for the Containment of Spain.
cause uplifting of the steel tank. Refrigerated Liquefied Gases ACI 376.
The advantages of a base isolation sys-

LNG journal July/August 2005 page 24