The assessment of design loads acting on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pump tower are widely based on Morison equation. However, the Morison equation lacks consideration of transverse flow, impact loads and the interaction between fluid and structure. Studies dealing with a direct simulation of LNG pump tower loads by means of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which can cover the aforementioned effects, are currently not available.
A comparative numerical study on LNG pump tower loads is presented in this paper focusing on the following two questions: Are impact loads relevant for the structural design of LNG pump towers? In which way does the fluid-structure interaction influence the loads?
Numerical simulations of the multiphase problem were conducted using field methods. Firstly, Unsteady Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) equations, extended by the Volume of Fluid (VoF) approach were used to simulate the flow inside a three-dimensional LNG tank in model scale without tower structure. The results were used to validate the numerical model against model tests. Motion periods and amplitudes were systematically varied. Velocities and accelerations along the positions of the main structural members of the pump tower were extracted and used as input data for load approximations with the Morison equation.
Morison equation, URANS and Delayed Detached Eddy Simulation (DDES) computed tower loads were compared. Time histories as well as statistically processed data were used. Global loads acting on the full (with tower structure) and simplified structure (no tower structure, but using Morison equation) are in the same order of magnitude. However, their time evolution is different, especially at peaks, which is considered significant for the structural design.