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Design of Foundations for Large Dynamic Equipment in a High Seismic Region

Zhong (John) Liu, Ph.D., P.E., S.E.


1


1
Kiewit Power Engineers Corp., 9401 Renner Blvd., Lenexa, KS, 66219; PH (913)-928-7467;
email: john.liu@kiewit.com

ABSTRACT

Generally, foundations for large dynamic equipment are made of considerable amounts
concrete, thus they contribute to a significant percentage of a projects total concrete quantity.
Designing these dynamic foundations requires a series of static and dynamic analyses to meet the
vibration requirement of the equipment and any seismic requirements of the local building codes.
This article researches and compares different modeling methods, and then proposes an efficient
approach for their design in high seismic regions.
For design optimization, two different types of foundations should be considered for
these areas: mats and piles. Liquefaction, downdrag on piles, bearing pressure, spring constants,
soil stratification, water table, soil types, bearing depth, and settlement, can all affect a
foundation. Reviewing the geotech report and performing a cost/risk analysis with the contractor
should make it clear which type of foundation should be considered at a given locale. Engineers
should design these foundations using a finite element modeling software that can handle
dynamic loading. Modal analysis can be used to provide frequencies and displacement
amplitudes to verify vibration performance criteria based on ACI 351 and the manufactures
requirements. Modal analysis can also be used to analyze seismic response spectrum per SAP
time history analysis. In addition, a model based on static and quasi-static loads as required by
the applicable building code should be analyzed. The ability to combine these models into one
can help to solve these problems more quickly and efficiently.
A case study for a foundation of steam turbine generator is presented, in which, the
analysis features and design procedures used are described in detail. This may help design
engineers understand the different advantages and results of finite element models, to pick the
best modeling option for any given situation.

Keywords: Dynamic Analysis, Seismic Analysis, Turbine Foundation, Pile Cap, Dynamic
Equipment, Gas Power Plant

INTRODUCTION

Due to economic, environmental and technological changes, natural gas power plants
have become more popular. In which, the foundation of large dynamic equipment such as a CTG
(Combustion Turbine Generator) or STG (Steam Turbine Generator) take major role among the
structures because of the amount of concrete required to support them. Traditionally, design
methods of turbine foundations have developed gradually from rule-of-thumb to scientific
engineering methods. Currently, ACI 351.3R-4 (Foundations for Dynamic Equipment) [1] and
manufactures requirements offer a design basis for dynamic analysis. Local building codes [2]
offer seismic and other structural requirements that also need to be met. The following provides
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some basic knowledge, touches on what is required when designing large dynamic equipment in
seismic regions, as well as giving modeling tips.

FOUNDATIONS OF LARGE DYNAMIC EQUIPMENT

A gas power plant the dynamic equipment of a CTG or STG generally includes the
following: compressor, turbine, and generator. Per ACI 351.3R-4 two types of foundations are
acceptable for use; block-type and tabletop-type. The above mentioned code also lists
requirements for both. For gas turbines, block foundations are used; for steam turbines, the
condenser arrangement in the low pressure turbine area leads to a tabletop-type foundations
being required. Both block and tabletop foundations may be directly supported by underling soil
or by piles to reach deeper soil layers for sufficient load bearing capacity. These foundations may
be expanded to include nearby structures and equipment, isolated from surrounding structures by
a joint filled with elastic material, by vibration isolators, or springs from supporting structures.
The various options of foundations, manufacture requirements, and building code requirements,
can lead to multiple complicated structural models all of which have both pros and cons.
Depending on the project a traditional procedure may be the best design methodology, as they
are proven and are typically simpler.
The dimensions of foundations generally start from rule-of thumb based on mass, shape,
and thickness. For example, the foundation weight in the case of rotating machines should be at
least 3 times the total machine weight. For block foundations using piles or springs, this ratio can
be reduced to 2.5 times [1]. The pile cap mass should be 1.5 to 2.5 times and 2.5 to 4 times the
mass of the machine for centrifugal and reciprocating machines, respectively [3]. The basic
principle behind these values is that the foundation behaves as a rigid body that reduces the
vibrations of machine can impart into the soil below. Other factors such a soil properties, pile
size and spacing, anchorage requirements, and equipment layout also affect the sizing of the
foundation. Most importantly, the foundation needs to be designed per code and manufactures
requirements. Being able to account for all these factors in the modeling phase is necessary.
Design optimization plays a very important role to reach an efficient economical structure, as the
dynamic and seismic behavior of structures may change significantly from its original rough
preliminary sizing.
The information presented below is based on data from three gas power plants located in
California and designed by Kiewit Power Engineers Co. All three sites contained liquefiable soil
layers which required pile cap structures for the CTG and the other large dynamic equipment.

DYNAMIC REQUIREMENT FOR TURBINE FOUNDATION

Turbine vendors generally provide following dynamic loads during operation:
(1) Normal Torques Loads (NTL) The magnitude of the normal torque depends
upon the rotational speed and power output of the rotating components of
equipment. Fluid loads on the turbine impose a net torque on the casing that is
opposite to the rotation of the rotor. This load is given as an equivalent moment
couple.
(2) Normal Machine Unbalance Loads (NUB) - Which is a result from imbalance in
the equipment during cyclic movement as a result of defects due to material
imperfection, design tolerances etc. This force is applied radially outward at
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infinite points off the centerline of the shaft. The unbalanced force amplitude
may be estimated as followings:

F
0
= me
2


Where m = rotor mass, = machine operating speed (radian/sec), and e = rotor eccentricity. This
result should be multiplied by a service factor, generally greater than or equal to 2 [1]. For
industry criteria, such as ISO 1940 and ASA/ANSI S2.19, define balance quality in terms of a
constant e = Q. Q can be found in Table 3.1 of ACI 351 [1] based on balance quality guide.
There are also dynamic emergency loads such as:
(1) Loss of Rotor Blade (RBL) - Which is an emergency load associated with a breakage
of one or more blades of the turbine rotor. If this is not provided by the manufacturer, it
may be assumed to be 6 times Normal Machine Unbalance Loads (NUB).
(2) Generator Accidental Torque (SCT) - This load occurs when there is a short circuit at
the generator terminals thereby inducing a severe loading condition.
As both of the above emergency loads have such a small likelihood of occurrence, the
design load factors for ultimate strength is taken as unity or 1.0.
For a dynamic analysis of foundation, the unbalanced forcing function may be applied as
a harmonic load as:

F(t) = F
0
sin(t +[)

Where F(t) = Value of the forcing function at any instant of time t; F
0
= Peak value of forcing
function; =machine operating speed; and =Phase angle.
When a turbine has more than one rotor, each rotor may have a different phase angle. The
foundation should be designed for the most unfavorable combination of these phase angles. The
severity of the resulting foundation vibration can then be estimated based on the human
sensitivity to vibration. The recommended requirements may contain a peak vibration velocity at
any point of foundation and the peak acceleration at the attached points for the turbine generator
sections. ACI 351[1] provides the limiting or permissible amplitudes as Fig. 3.9 and Fig.3.11 of
[1] based on operation speeds.
Due to the difficulty of dynamic analysis for harmonic load, the manufacturer may
provide a simplified method of dynamic requirements, for example, a combined requirement of
natural frequency and overall stiffness of the foundation. The natural frequency of foundation
needs to avoid resonance with the operating equipment. The manufacture provided the following
requirements for the CTGs at the Marsh Landing Power Plant. (1) The frequencies of entire
foundation system and individual components must not occur within a range from 70% up to 130%
of operating seed 3600 RPM. (2) The minimum exclusion criteria must be satisfied for all
modes where mass participation of at least 90%. (3) At least the first five modes must be
checked. (4) The stiffness of the foundation must be capable of maintaining negligible
misalignments between the driven and driving equipment components. The criteria above may
be stated as static deflections on supports and bearings of foundation for critical dynamic loads,
such as NUB and NTL.

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SEISMIC SITE CONDITIONS

Three power plants have different seismic design parameters in Table 1.

Table 1. Seismic Parameters of Three Gas Power Plants in California

Criteria Haynes Walnut
Creek
Marsh
Landing
Site Class F (D*) D D
Occupancy Category III III III
Seismic Design Category F (D*) D D
Seismic Importance Factor, I 1.5 1.25 1.25
Site Coefficients F
a
= NA
F
v
= NA
F
a
= 1.00
F
v
= 1.50
F
a
= 1.00
F
v
= 1.50
Mapped Spectral Response
Accelerations
S
s
= NA
S
1
= NA
S
s
= 1.94
S
1
= 0.73
S
s
= 1.5
S
1
= 0.516
Maximum Spectral Response
Accelerations
S
MS
=1.32
S
M1
=1.09
S
MS
=1.94
S
M1
=1.10
S
MS
=1.5
S
M1
= 0.774
Design Spectral Response
Accelerations
S
DS
= 0.88
S
D1
= 0.73
S
DS
=1.3
S
D1
= 0.73
S
DS
= 1.0
S
D1
= 0.516
Design Peak Ground Acceleration NA 0.52g 0.4g
Long-Period Transition Period (TL) NA 8 Sec 8 Sec

Note: * Use Site Class D for structure with natural period of vibration < 0.5 seconds per ASCE
Chapter 20.3.1.

The major seismic hazards are those hazards associated with earthquakes such as ground
shaking, ground rupture, liquefaction, differential compaction or seismic settlement, and other
phenomena. Liquefaction is a phenomenon whereby saturated, granular soils lose their inherent
shear strength due to excess pore water pressure build-up which normally occurs during the
repeated cyclic loading an earthquake produces. Liquefaction hazards includes loads manifested
in the form of buoyancy force during liquefaction, increases in lateral earth pressures due to
liquefaction, horizontal and vertical movements resulting from lateral spreading, and post-
earthquake settlement of the liquefied materials.
To avoid liquefaction hazards, deep foundations were required for the dynamic equipment on
these three power plants. Precast prestressed concrete piles were used for Marsh Landing project,
while auger pressure grouted (APG) piles are used for Haynes and Walnut Creek projects. All
piles are required to penetrate through any soil layers that liquefaction can occur before the pile
is counted on to take any axial loading. The effects of liquefaction will impose additional
downdrag loads on piles in a seismic event. This downdrag force is a result of settling of soil
layer(s) which is caused by the dissipating of built-up of pore water pressure in the liquefiable
soils during ground shaking. Downdrag is a negative skin friction between soil and pile, which
is an additional load on the pile that reduces the axial capacity of the pile. For example, the
maximum downdrag load is about 40 kips to 80 kips based on the anticipated range of
thicknesses of the potentially liquefiable soils at Haynes project site.

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Figure 1. Haynes Repowering Project

According to California Building Code, the foundation may be designed per equivalent
lateral force (ELF) procedure or response spectrum analysis. Per ELF, the base shear is:
I = C
s
W

In which, W is weight of equipment, and coefficient

C
s
= S
S
IR

Where, I and S
DS
can be found in Table (1) and R = modification factor =3 per Table
15.4-2 of ASCE 7-05.

FINITE ELEMENT MODELING

Concrete foundations of large equipment generally are designed per linear elastic analysis,
since amplitudes and static deformations are normally small (the stiffness change due to cracks
may be ignored). For finite element design types, beam, shell (plate), and solid elements may all
be used. Beam elements are generally used for table foundations and piles; shell and solid
elements may be used to model pile caps, massive block foundations, and pedestals.
Using solid elements has an advantage to the other types as its possible to more
accurately model variable section changes of foundation compared to shell elements. However,
as they have more degrees of freedom and typically more elements, the calculation time required
is increased. The results from solid elements are also more difficult (compared to shell elements)
to convert accurately into moment, shear, and axial forces which are necessary in design a
concrete section based on ACI 318.

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Figure 2. Marsh Landing CTG Model

For Marsh Landing project, solid elements were used for modeling the CTG foundation.
Haynes and Walnut Creek projects, however used shell elements to model their dynamic
foundations. The equipment was modeled as masses that are connected to the plate/foundation
element nodes by rigid rods. By contrast if shell or solid elements are used, the rigid rods may
be linked to any point in the element, not just the surface as in when using plates. Be aware that
when a rigid rod is used for this purpose it stiffens the foundation, which may or may not have an
effect on the design depending on the differences in stiffness between the foundation and the
equipment.
Boundary conditions also play an important role in the modeling of foundation. For
example, in a static model of mat foundation, damping properties and subgrade of soil may be
sufficient to analyze loads including quasi-static dynamic and seismic loads. However, to
achieve a more accurate interaction model between subsoil and foundation, a special boundary
element may be required. The ability to do this can be difficult to find in commercial software.
Using a pile-soil interaction model is more realistic when designing a pile cap, but doing this
requires additional geotechnical parameters and specialized software. In the design of pile cap,
we did not consider pile-soil interaction, because some traditional pipe analysis software such as
Lpile is independent from finite element software such SAP, RISA, and STAAD. Traditionally,
there are several options for pile modeling as followings.
(1) Model the piles as short beams with length of fixed point based on interpreted from
pile analysis. This method may be used for both static and dynamic analysis [6],
however this type of analysis has difficulty in accurately modeling the stiffness of the
pile. This is because the interaction between the stiffness of pile and soil may not be
reasonably simplified as just a single fixed end beam.
(2) Model the piles as fixed support points. This method is generally used for a
traditional static analysis. The reactions calculated are based on free or fixed
conditions by finite elements and can be used for pile analysis by assuming the pile
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top is either a free head or a fixed headed pile condition. If the foundation was
supported on bedrock, this could be an acceptable methodology. If not, basing the
design on this method could generate errors and be unsafe as it will not distribute the
loads to the piles correctly due to the foundations stiffness being inaccurate.
(3) Model the piles as elastic spring supports. This method may be used for both static
and dynamic analysis. The spring constants include vertical, horizontal, rocking,
cross-stiffness, and torsion. For this type of analysis, cross-stiffness coefficients play
an important role because the piles behave like the columns in a moment frame, as the
lateral deflection of frame is related to the moments of columns. Before using this
method verify that the software being used will support modeling a cross-stiffness
spring coefficient. For example RISA and STAAD do cannot, while both SAP 2000
and GTStrudl offer an advanced option to input a matrix of spring constants. For
SAP 2000, in a fixed coordinate system, the spring forces and moments F
x
, F
y
, F
z
, M
x
,
M
y
, and M
z
at a joint are given by:

(
(
(
(
(
(
(
(

z
y
x
z
y
x
z
y
x
z
y
x
r
r
r
u
u
u
rz
ryrz ry sym
rxrz rxry rx
uzrz uzry uzrx uz
uyrz uyry uyrx uyuz uy
uxrz uxry uxrx uxuz uxuy ux
M
M
M
F
F
F
.


Where u
x
, u
y
, u
z
, r
x
, r
y
, and r
z
are the joint displacements and rotations, and the terms ux,
uxuy, uy, are specified spring stiffness coefficients. For dynamic analysis of equipment in
operation, Novak and Howell [4] provided equations of spring constants. Pile analysis software,
such as Lpile can also provide spring constants for us to fill out this matrix.


Figure 3. The global axial system in SAP

For a fixed head condition in the global axial system of SAP, the spring constants of a circular
pile are defined as follows:
ux = uy = lateral stiffness (kip/in) = an applied lateral force on the top of pile divided by
induced deflection.
uz = Axial stiffness (kip/in) = EA/L*
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rx = ry = Lateral bending stiffness (kip-in/rad) = an applied moment force on the top of
pile divided by induced rotation on same direction.
rz = Torsional stiffness (kip-in/rad) = GJ/L
uxry = -uxry = Cross-couple term (kip-in/in) = The induced shear divided by an applied
rotation on the top of pile.
All other constants in the matrix are zeros.
Where: A = Cross-sectional area (in
2
); E = Youngs modulus (ksi); G = 0.4E; J = Torsional
moment of inertia; L = Length of pile (in); L* = L for a bearing pile, L/2 for a pile with a
constant skin friction, and L/3 for a pile with a linearly varying skin friction.

CASE STUDY

A simplified foundation based on GEs GEK-63383 steam turbine generator is used for
this analysis. GEs dynamic criteria include two types of analysis: Method A (evaluation of
natural frequencies) and Method B (forced vibration). In the case study, several models are
included to help engineers to decide the proper model for their analysis. Following conclusions
are reached through the case study.
(1) Different element models: Beam elements can create a very simple STG foundation
model which be analyzed by hand calculations. Rigid links are used to model the
connection joints of beams. Shell (plate) and solid elements were also be used to
represent the table top, columns, and footing (Figures 4 to 8). Based on SAP analysis,
all finite element design methods provided very close first natural periods (Table 2). In
other words, engineer may choose the type of element without having a significant
impact on the accuracy of the calculation. This is only true as long as the foundation
behaves as a rigid mat.
(2) Soil springs: Soil spring constant may be calculated per 4.2 of ACI 351.3. Soil springs
can be modeled as typical link elements for shell elements or nonlinear links.
Nonlinear links can be modified per different spring conditions, such as a compression-
only spring vertically.
(3) How to model rotors of turbine: Per GE manual, rigid links should be used per Figures
13 to 17 of [7]. A rigid link is a specification between two joints such that the
displacements at the slave joint will be the same displacements as the master plus rigid
rotation. In SAP 2000, rigid links consist of a link element with all directions of
movement and rotations fixed. The GE manual doesnt suggest modeling the rotor
axial as a rigid link as the displacement check of misalignment tolerance matrix verifies
whether the axial line of rotor is straight. If a rigid link is used to replace axial line,
there wont be any misalignment result, which is erroneous. To give a better visional
view of model, a very weak link element may be used to replace rotor axes, which
wont change the result.
(4) Forced vibration analysis: Foundation vibrates under harmonic dynamic loads from
machine. For each bearing, unbalanced forces are based on weight of rotors and
operating speeds (Table 3). To model direction change of harmonic dynamic loads, sine
and cosine functions are added in two perpendicular axes. By using time history
analysis, foundation structure should be verified per followings: (a) At rated speed, the
peak vibration velocity in the direction of each principal axis of the foundation at the
turbine-generator machine baseline interfaces should be less than 0.06 inches/second.
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(b) At any speed up to 120% of rated turbine speed (with the unbalance force adjusted
for speed), the peak vibration velocity in the direction of each of the principal axis of
the foundation at the turbine-generator machine baseline interfaces should be less than
0.15 inches/second.
(5) Response spectra analysis: Similar to harmonic dynamic load, seismic response
analysis may be analyzed by using the time history of design option in SAP. Based on
Section 12.9 of ASCE 7-05, code specified design spectra or site spectra (Figure 9) may
be used.



Figure 4. Beam Element Model w/o Footing

Figure 5. Shell Element Model w/o Footing

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Figure 6. Solid Element Model w/o Footing


Figure 7. Solid Element Model w/ Footing &SoilSprings


Figure 8. Shell Element Model w/ Footing & Soil Links
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TABLE 2. First Natural Periods of Models

Model Period (Sec)
Beam Element Model w/o Footing 0.24817
Shell Element Model w/o Footing 0.25680
Solid Element Model w/o Footing 0.27943
Solid Element Model w/ Footing & Soil Springs 0.46847
Shell Element Model w/ Footing & Soil Links 0.37771

TABLE 3. Unbalance Forces (kips) per Turbine Speed Following GE Manual [7]

Turbine
Speed
(RPM)
Generator Rotor
(weight 142 kips)
for bearings #5 & #6
HP/IP Rotor
(weight 38 kips)
for bearings #3 & #4
LP Rotor
(weight 127 kips)
for bearings #1 & #2
1500 4.53 1.21 4.05
1800 6.53 1.75 5.84
3000 18.13 4.85 16.22
3600 26.11 6.99 23.36
4320 37.60 10.06 33.63

Notes: Unbalance Force Equation F = 1.419e-8*W*N2, W = the rotor weight (lbf); N= the
machine design operating speed in rpm; F = total unbalance force (lbf).



Figure 9. Design Response Spectra in Geo-Report

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CONCLUSIONS

Designing large dynamic equipment foundations located in high seismic regions is based
on a multitude of factors. The dynamic requirements and seismic requirements based on site
conditions both play a very important role. For seismic regions where liquefaction of soil layers
is possible, using deep pile foundations is likely going to be the best approach. For finite
element analysis, SAP 2000 may be used to create a model for static and dynamic analysis. The
option to input a matrix of spring stiffness coefficients, calculated from an Lpile analysis, is very
convenient for modeling piles and can give the best results. A forced vibration analysis can
verify foundation how behave during operation. While, a spectrum analysis can be used to verify
the equivalent lateral force procedure required per California Building Code.


REFERENCES

1. ACI 351.3R-04, Foundations for Dynamic Equipment, Reported by ACI Committee 351, 2004.
2. California Building Code, 2010.
3. Suresh C. Arya, Michael ONeil, George Pincus, Design of Structures and Foundations for
Vibrating Machines, Gulf Publishing Company, 1979.
4. Joseph E. Bowles, Foundation Analysis and Design, Mcgraw-Hill, 1997.
5. Peter Nawrotzki, Gunter Huffmann, Timur Uzunoglu, Static and Dynamic Analysis of
Concrete Turbine Foundations, Structural Engineering International, Mar, 2008.
6. Arkady Livshits, Dynamic Analysis and Structural Design of Turbine Generator
Foundations, European Built Environment CAE Conference, July, 2008.
7. GE Energy, Turbine Generator Foundations, Feb, 2012.
8. GE Energy, Turbine Generator Foundations, Feb, 1998.
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