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Harmonic analysis looks at dynamic problems where the forces or displacements acting
on the piping system take sinusoidal forms. The dynamic motion equation could be
solved directly thus obviating the need for response spectrum.


Loads with harmonic force/time profiles are best solved using the harmonic
method. Major types of loads with harmonic time profiles are:

• Equipment vibration: If rotating equipment attached to a pipe is slightly out of

tolerance, it may impose a small cyclic displacement onto the pipe at the point of
attachment, where the displacement cycle would most likely correspond to the
equipment’s operating cycle. The displacement at the pipe connection may be so
small as to not even be noticeable, but dynamically it could cause significant
problems. The loading vs. time can be easily predicted once the equipment’s
operating cycle and variation from tolerance is known.

• Acoustic vibration: If fluid flow characteristics are changed within a pipe (for
example if flow conditions change from laminar to turbulent as the fluid goes
through an orifice), slight lateral vibrations may be set up within the pipe. Often
these vibrations fit harmonic patterns, with predominant frequencies somewhat
predictable based upon the flow conditions. For example, Strouhal’s equation
predicts that the developed frequency (Hz) of vibration caused by flow through an
orifice will be somewhere between 0.2 V/D and 0.3 V/D, where V is the fluid
velocity and D is the diameter of the orifice. Wind flow around a pipe sets up
lateral displacements as well (a phenomenon known as vortex shedding), with an
exciting frequency in the area of 0.18 V/D, where V is the wind velocity and D is
the outer diameter of the pipe.

• Pulsation: During the operation of a reciprocating pump or a compressor, the

fluid is compressed by pistons driven by a rotating shaft. This causes a cyclic
change (vs. time) in the fluid pressure at any specified location in the system. If
the fluid pressures at opposing elbow pairs or closures are unequal, this creates an
unbalanced pressure load in the system. Since the pressure balance changes with
the cycle of the compressor, the unbalanced force changes as well. (Note that the
frequency of the force cycle will most likely be some multiple of that of the
equipment operating cycle, since multiple pistons will cause a corresponding
number of force variations during each shaft rotation.) The pressure variations
will continue to move along through the fluid, so in a steady state flow condition,
unbalanced forces may be present simultaneously at all elbow pairs in the system.
The load magnitudes may vary, and the load cycles may or may not be in phase
with each other, depending upon the pulse velocity, the distance of each elbow

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pair from the compressor, and the length of the piping legs between the elbow


The biggest use by far of the harmonic solver is in analyzing low frequency field
vibrations. The approach typically taken towards solving this type of problem (especially
if the problem investigated is for an actual existing pipeline where large vibrations are
noticed in operation) is described briefly below:

1. A potential dynamic problem is first identified in the field either in terms of large
cycle vibrations or high stresses (fatigue failure) being present in an existing
piping system, raising questions of whether this represents a dangerous situation.
As many symptoms of the problem (quantifiable displacements, overstress points,
etc.) are identified as possible, for future use in refining the dynamic model.

2. A model of the piping system is built using CAESAR II. This should be done as
accurately as possible, since the system as well as load characteristics affect the
magnitude of the developed response.

3. Postulate the cause of the load and from that, estimate the frequency, magnitude,
point, and direction of the load. This is somewhat difficult because the dynamic
loads can come from many sources. Dynamic loads may be due to internal
pressure pulses, external vibration, flow shedding at intersections, two phase flow,
etc., but in almost all cases, there is some frequency content of the excitation that
corresponds to (and therefore excites) a system mechanical natural frequency. If
the load is caused by equipment, then the forcing frequency is probably some
multiple of the operating frequency; if the load is due to acoustic flow problems,
then the forcing frequency can be estimated through the use of fluid dynamics
equations. Using the best assumptions available, the user should estimate the
magnitudes and points of application of the dynamic load. Note that the point of
application is not necessarily a point of high system response.

4. The loading is then modeled using harmonic forces or displacements (normally

depending upon whether the cause is assumed to be pulsation or vibration) and
several harmonic analyses are done sweeping the frequencies through a range
centered about the target frequency (in order to account for uncertainty). The
results of each of the analyses are examined for signs of large displacements,
indicating harmonic resonance. If the resonance is present, the results of the
analyses are compared to known symptoms from the field. If they are not similar,
this indicates that the dynamic model must be improved, either in terms of a more
accurate system (static) model, a better estimate of the load, or a finer sweep
through the frequency range. Once the model has been refined, this step is
repeated until the mathematical model behaves just like the actual piping system
in the field.

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5. If the situation is deemed to be a problem, its cause must be identified, where the
cause is normally the excitation of a single mode of vibration. A model extraction
of the system is done; one (or more) of these modes should have a natural
frequency close to the forcing frequency of the applied load. The guilty mode can
be further identified as the one having a shape very similar to the shape of the
total system vibration, since this mode shape has been dynamically magnified far
beyond the other modes and thus predominates in the final vibrated shape.

6. Once the guilty mode has been identified, it must be eliminated. This is done most
easily by adding a restraint at a high point of the mode shape. If this cannot be
done, the mode may also be altered by changing the mass distribution of the
system (for example, by adding operators to valves). If no modification of the
system is possible, it may be possible to alter the forcing frequency of the load. If
the dynamic load was postulated to be due to internal acoustics, it is
recommended that the pipe not be rerouted at this point, as rerouting the pipe will
change the internal flow conditions. After modifying the system, the harmonic
problem (using the single forcing frequency determined as a good model) is then
re-run, and the stresses, displacements, etc. are re-evaluated.

7. If the dynamic problem has been adequately solved, the system is now reanalyzed
statically to determine the effects of any modifications on the static loading cases.
(Remember that adding restraint normally increases expansion stresses, while
adding mass increases sustained stresses).


With this type of profile, the load/displacement changes direction and/or

magnitude following a harmonic profile, ranging from its minimum to its maximum over
a fixed time period. Generally, the load may be described by a function of the form:
F (t) = A cos (ω t - Q)
F (t) = force magnitude as a function of time.
A = Magnitude of the force.
ω = angular frequency (radian/sec).
Q = phase angle (radians).
t = time (sec).
For the pulsating equipment, the magnitude of the pressure load (Fh) at each elbow is:
Fh = 0.5 (Pressure variation) (C.S.Area)


The harmonic loading can start with its maximum load at time equal to zero, or
the harmonic load can start with its maximum at any time between zero and t = 2π / ω

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seconds. The phase angle is the method used to specify this time shift in the dynamic load
waveform. The phase angle can be calculated from the time shift using the equation:
Phase (degrees) = 180 t ω / π
Where, t is given in seconds and ω is given in radians per second. Most frequently the
phase angle is entered as either zero or 90. The phase specification is most useful when
defining eccentric loads on rotating equipment.

Phasing can be important if more than one force or displacement is included. The
phase angle relates the timing of one load to another. For example, if two harmonic loads
are acting along the same line but at different nodes, the loads can be directed towards
each other, which would produce no net dynamic imbalance on the system, or the loads
could be directed in the same direction, which would produce a net dynamic imbalance in
the system equal to the sum of the two forces. It is the phase angle which primarily
determines this relationship. For example, the harmonic load data (1500, X, 0, 10), and
(1500, X, 0, 105) produces an “in phase,” or same direction dynamic load in the system
(1500 in the X direction and zero phase at nodes 10 and 105), while (1500, X, 0, 10), and
(1500, X, 180, 105) produces an “out of phase,” or opposite direction dynamic load on
the system which will tend to pull the system apart.

The two most common phased loadings are those due to rotating equipment and
reciprocating pumps.

1.4.1. Rotating Equipment

Rotating equipment may have an eccentricity, a speed, and a mass. These items
must be converted into a harmonic load that acts on the rotor at the theoretical mass
centerline. The magnitude of the harmonic load (Fh) is computed from:
Fh = (mass) (speed)2(eccentricity)
Speed: is the angular velocity of the shaft in cycles per second.
This load is applied along both axes perpendicular to the shaft axis and at a 90º phase

1.4.2. Reciprocating Equipment

In the case of a reciprocating pump, the pump introduces a pressure wave into the
line at some regular interval that is related to the valving inside the pump and the pump
speed. This pressure wave moves away from the pump at the speed of sound in the fluid.
These pressure waves will cause loads at each bend in the piping system. The load on
each subsequent elbow in the system starting from the first elbow will be phase shifted by
an amount that is a function of the distance between the elbows, from the first elbow to
the current elbow. It is the amount of phase shift between elbow-elbow pairs that
produces the net unbalanced dynamic load in the piping. The phase shift, in degrees from
the first elbow, is calculated from:
Phase = [(frequency)(length) / (speed of sound)]360º

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Frequency: is the frequency of wave introduction at the pump.
Length: is the distance from the first elbow to the current elbow under study.


For harmonic analysis, CAESAR II models the excitation frequency dynamically.

The steps for modeling harmonic analysis using CAESAR II dynamic processor are
as follows:
1. Run the static analysis for the different load cases specified for the problem.

2. Open the dynamic input processor and select the type of analysis to be

3. The first tab in the harmonic module is the Excitation Frequencies tab. In
this tab, the starting frequency (Hz.) is entered. Any number of individual
frequencies, or frequency ranges (indicated by a starting, ending, and
incremental frequency) may be specified, one to a line. CAESAR II performs
a separate analysis for each frequency requested. If the ending frequency is
not specified, it defaults to the starting frequency. If the frequency increment
is not specified then it defaults to 1 Hz. The number of anticipated load cycles
may be entered for each frequency range. If the number is entered, the load
cases are calculated with a fatigue stress type. Otherwise, the load cases are
calculated with an occasional stress type.

4. Either harmonic forces or the displacements must be entered in addition to the

excitation frequency data.

5. Forces are described in Harmonic Force tab. Amplitude is specified in the

force cell. The direction of the force is specified to be either X, Y, Z from the
pull down menu. Direction could be entered as direction cosines (cs, cy, cz),
or direction vectors (vx, vy, vz) as well. Phase angle is defined in degrees,
however, when there is no phase angle, it should be specified as zero. The
start node is also specified in the cell. If a range of nodes are specified, then a
stop node with node increment is specified.

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6. In case of describing displacement instead of forces, Harmonic
Displacement tab is used where same parameters described for forces are
applied for displacement.

7. Several simultaneous forces or displacements at different directions or phases

could be applied by adding a new row to the force/displacement table.

8. Control Parameters tab provides inputs controlling the dynamic solution.

For the harmonic analysis, there are three parameter discussed as follows:

a. Static Load Case for Nonlinear Restraint Status: is defined as per

the static case that transient loading will probably occur and it is left
for the analyst decision (preferably, the operating case).

b. Stiffness Factor for Friction:

c. Damping: Typical values for system damping are 0.01 – 0.05, a

default value of 0.03 is usually used in time history analysis. However,
reducing this value yields more conservative results but with lower
accuracy. Changing this value affects the results directly, thus it should
be dealt with carefully.

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- CAESAR II - technical reference manual, chapter five:

controlling the dynamic solution.
- CAESAR II - applications guide.
- COADE discussion forums.
- CAESAR II - user guide
- Various internet sources.

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