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Journal of Industria!

Aerodynamics, 1 (1975/1976) 341--347

Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Amsterdam -- Printed in The Netherlands




[_n~itut Far Leichtbau, Technische Hochsehule, Aachen (W. Germany)
(Received July 4, 1975)
The results of measurements on steel chimney stacks are presented -- mainly full-scale
tests carried out after rebuilding a 145-m high and 6-m diameter steel chimney stack which
collapsed owing to wind-induced vibrations. The results of observations of cross-wind
oscillations of steel stacks, together with structural data (natural frequencies and log decrements), are also given.

1. I n t r o d u c t i o n
Cross-wind v i b r a t i o n in response t o v o r t e x - s h e d d i n g is t h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t
f o r m o f w i n d - i n d u c e d oscillation a f f e c t i n g steel c h i m n e y stacks o f circular
T h e response o f t h e c h i m n e y t o wind e x c i t a t i o n is a f u n c t i o n o f a large
n u m b e r o f p a r a m e t e r s which describe the n a t u r e o f t h e wind and t h e structural
properties. Most w i n d - t u n n e l studies have b e e n restricted t o tests in a u n i f o r m
s t r e a m at subcritical R e y n o l d s n u m b e r s . T h e r e f o r e , full-scale tests o n steel
c h i m n e y stacks are v e r y instructive.
2. V o r t e x - e x c i t e d oscillations o f a 1 4 5 - m high steel c h i m n e y stack
2.1 Observations made before the collapse o f the unlined stack
T h r e e years ago in t h e industrial area o f G e r m a n y a welded-steel c h i m n e y
stack o f h e i g h t 1 4 5 m and d i a m e t e r 6 m (H/D = 2 3 . 3 3 ) was e r e c t e d . T h e configuration o f this stack is s h o w n in Fig.1. T h e wall thickness o f the cylindroconical shell was 30 m m at t h e base and 12 m m at t h e top.
T o p r e v e n t v o r t e x - e x c i t e d oscillations, t h r e e helical 'strakes' m a d e f r o m
2 4 - m m d i a m e t e r cables with a p i t c h o f a b o u t 2 X D and a h e i g h t o f 0.1 X D
were f i t t e d t o the surface o f t h e c h i m n e y (at the suggestion o f t h e designer).
Nevertheless considerable cross-wind oscillations were observed f o r wind
speeds o f a b o u t 14 t o 16 m/s with a m p l i t u d e s u p t o 0.2 d i a m e t e r (+ 1.2 m)
p r i o r t o t h e lining being added. T h e natural f r e q u e n c y o f t h e stack was 0 . 4 7 5
Hz, giving an e s t i m a t e d critical wind speed o f 14 m/s (based o n S = 0.2). T h e
R e y n o l d s n u m b e r at this wind speed is 5.6 X 106 .



Completed chimney

3 start


helical s t r o k e s
w i d t h 0,1 D
pitch 5 D

: brickwork
t5 Mp/m




5 J. l~
is ~ 25
25 / 35
35 ~ 4 Z 5
47,5 /52,5
52,5 /57,5
5F,5/ 65
55 / 75
75 -/. 85











Fig.1. Details of the 145-m high steel chimney stack.

Thus it was evident that the helical cables were n o t very useful in reducing
the amplitudes of the oscillations. Before it was possible to devise more effective methods of preventing the oscillations, the chimney stack collapsed.
The combined mass-damping factor, 2 M 6sip D 2 , was very low. The equivalent mass per unit length M for the fundamental bending m o d e calculated
on the assumption o f a parabolic mode of oscillation is M = 143 kp m -2 s:.
Using the logarithmic decrement 5s = 0.03 for the structural damping, the
mass-damping factor is approximately 1.9. This low value is in the range of
instability [1, 2 ] .
The assumed logarithmic decrement is based on experience from our o w n
measurements on free-standing welded-steel chimney stacks, and on the fact
that in this case the foundation provided a substantial contribution to the
total damping. This is evident from the records obtained in the "stump" tests,
carried out after collapse of the stack.
It should be of interest that the cross-wind oscillations of the stack at the
critical wind-speed were approximately constant over a long time. Accordingly the calculation of a fluctuating aerodynamic coefficient is possible within
certain limits. Referring to W. Langer [ 3 ] , the generalized amplitude of the
steady-state oscillations, taking the air density as 0 . 1 2 5 kp s 2 m -2 and the
Strouhal number as 0.2, may be written as
co d2 A




where A =Jd(~)r f(~) d~ is the generalized area and M*

(~)d~ the
generalized mass. The assumption t h a t the first bending mode is parabolic in
the case of the above mentioned chimney gives A = d h /3 = 280 m 2 and
from Fig.l, M* = 4,080 kp m -~ s2 . Therefore with Yo = + 1.2 m the fluctuating aerodynamic coefficient is about 0.12 (based on the log decrement of
0.03). This value is in agreement with the results obtained by full-scale measurements on the television tower at Hamburg [4] at small vibration amplitudes.

2.2 Rebuilding and full-scale measurements

For the completed chimney with a mass ratio (lining/without lining) of
about 3 : 1, a natural frequency of 0.27 Hz was predicted. From the " s t u m p "
test it was evident that the movement of the foundation block (3,800 Mp
weight) for the natural frequency is negligible. The effect is less than 4%.
Because of the increase of the mass as well as the log decrement of the
lined chimney, the mass-damping parameter also increases. With M = 429 kp
m-2s 2 and 5s = 0.06 (estimated) the above-mentioned parameter is 11.5. The
increase of the parameter relative to the value for the unlined chimney is
evident. However, because it is n o t possible with present knowledge to set
accurate criteria for instability due to vortex shedding at transcritical Reynolds
numbers, aerodynamic devices to prevent cross-wind oscillations must be
proposed. To optimize the aerodynamic devices for the rebuilding of the
chimney, wind-tunnel tests were carried out. Based on the test results and
the subsequent recommendations of Scruton [ 5], a 3-start helical strake system
with strakes of width 0.1D (600 mm), of pitch 5 D (30 m) and extending from
the 140-m level down to the 79-m level, was fitted to the surface of the completed chimney. The thickness of the strakes (mounted on insulator pins) is
5 mm. The completed chimney stack is shown in Fig.2.

2.2.1 Measurements of the structural properties

After rebuilding of the chimney, the natural frequency and damping were
measured by the cable releasing m e t h o d (44-mm top deflection).
Chimney vibrations were measured using accelerometers m o u n t e d in orthogonal pairs, with one axis oriented along the NS direction and the other along
the EW direction. The natural frequency of the vibration pick-ups was 4.5 Hz at
0.65 critical damping. The signals from the instruments were received at a
c o m m o n ground-level recording panel. Fig. 3 shows sample acceleration and
strain records.
It should be noted t h a t during these tests a g e n t l e breeze of 4 m/s was
blowing. Also the still-air values of 5 s would probably have been smaller than
those actually measured because of the positive aerodynamic damping caused
by the helical strakes.
The measurement of the effective damping gave a log decrement 8 s = 0.1.
The predicted natural frequency agreed well with the experiment, in which
0.288 Hz was measured. Moreover the first harmonic values were measured


Fig. 2. Completed chimney with helical strakes.

as 1.3 Hz and 8 s = 0.08. T h e c o r r e s p o n d i n g bending d e f l e c t i o n was a b o u t
-+ 2 m m . It should be n o t e d t h a t the a c c e l e r o m e t e r o u t p u t (Fig.3) shows a
relatively large c o n t r i b u t i o n f r o m t h e first h a r m o n i c . T h e r e a s o n is t h e diff e r e n t sensitivity o f the a c c e l e r o m e t e r f o r 0 . 2 8 8 Hz and 1.3 Hz oscillations.
2.2. 2 Vibration and wind measurements over a long period
The vibrations o f the c o m p l e t e d c h i m n e y stack were m e a s u r e d b y m e a n s
o f strain gauges installed at the 35-m level. Sample strain records are s h o w n
in Fig.4.
Wind-speed and d i r e c t i o n m e a s u r e m e n t s were t a k e n at the 30-m level s o m e
distance t o the west o f t h e c h i m n e y stack w h e r e t h e prevailing wind directions were clear o f surface o b s t r u c t i o n s . T h e i n s t r u m e n t s installed were a c u p
a n e m o m e t e r and d i r e c t i o n vane f i t t e d with p o t e n t i o m e t e r .



Stroin gouges output


Stroin gouges output





5 sec


Fig. 3. Sample acceleration and strain records (cable releasing test).



30 sec



Fig.4. Sample strain records (wind-induced vibrations).

The investigations of the behaviour of the completed chimney stack revealed that the addition of strakes suppressed the vibrations significantly. At
the critical wind speed of about 8 m/s (based on fundamental frequency of
0.288 Hz) the maximum amplitude at the chimney top was + 3 to 4 cm approximately. The corresponding alternating stresses were negligible.
At higher wind speeds, chimney vibrations were observed both across the
mean wind direction (nearly westerly) and in wind. Both types of vibrations
appeared to be fairly random in character, with peak amplitudes increasing
with wind speed and with intensity of gustiness. The fundamental vibration
mode predominated in the response of the chimney stack.


In the case of extreme wind conditions (at the 140-m level: e x p o n e n t for
the wind profile 0.182, 10-min mean wind speed 23.3 m/s to 24.8 m/s, gust
exponent 0.0835 and max. gusts 30.1 m/s to 32.5 m/s) the m a x i m u m deflection at the top was about + 13.4 cm (+ 0.0223 X D).
Based on the experimental data obtained from the full-scale measurements,
maximum amplitudes at the chimney top of about 20 to 30 cm must be expected at the m a x i m u m wind speed of 44 m/s (wind speed for design). That
is 0.16 to 0.14 times the static deflection (1.24 m) calculated with the dragforce coefficients Cw = 0.7 for the unstraked parts of the chimney and Cw =
1.3 for the straked parts of width 0.1 D. The dynamic pressure is 123.5 kp/m 2,
3. Dynamic characteristics of some other steel chimney stacks
Six different welded-steel chimney stacks were tested for structural damping. Details of the chimneys investigated are given in Table 1.
D y n a m i c c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f steel c h i m n e y stacks.




F l u e No.



a( m m )













The thickness of the gunite lining outside chimney 1 is 100 mm. In the
case of chimney 2 there are four diameters (1.3 m from 0 to 7.3-m level, 0.8
m from 7.3 to 12 m, 0.7 m from 12 m to 21 m and 0.6 m from 21 to 40 m).
To prevent vortex-induced oscillations, three hydraulic automotive shockabsorbers (KONI type 90--1090) were installed between the stack and a
separate structure at the 18-m level. In plan, the dampers are located 120
apart. The log decrement of this system is 0.365.
Chimney 6 is framework-supported (from 0 to 13.4 m) and the log decrement is noticeably higher than the values for the other unlined chimneys.
Stack 4 was fitted on the roof of a reactor-house at the 57.15-m level. At
the predicted critical wind speed of about 9 to 10 m/s, cross-wind oscillations
with m a x i m u m deflections of + 0.46 D (+ 1.4 m) at the top of the chimney
were observed.

1 C. S c r u t o n a n d A.R. Flint, Wind-excited oscillations o f s t r u c t u r e s , Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng.,
27 (April 1 9 6 4 ) 6 7 3 - - 7 0 2 .


2 L.R. Wootton, The oscillations of large circular stacks in wind. Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng., 43
(August 1969) 573--598.
3 W. Langer, Querschwingungen hoher schlanker Bauwerke mit kreisf~rmigem Querschnitt,
394. Mitteilung aus dem Institut fur Leichtbau, Dresden, DDR, S. 184/197, 1969.
4 H. Ruscheweyh, Beitrag zur Windbelastung hoher kreiszylinderlihnlicher schlanker
Bauwerke im natttrlichen Wind bei Reynoldszahlen bis Re = 1.4 107 , Dissertation TH
Aachen, 1974.
5 C. Scruton, Report on the vortex-excited oscillations of the proposed Thyssen chimney
for Cowperanlage HOI-Sehwelgern, 28th February 1972, unpublished paper.