New design pattern promises improved safety and lower construction costs for LNG storage
In collaboration with Arup research partners, the UTS team, led by Associate Professor Behzad Fatahi, Head of Geotechnical Engineering and Transportation, together with PhD student Ms. Noor Sharari, developed a rigorous computer simulation technique taking into account complex loading conditions, such as earthquakes and ground structure. and liquid-structure interactions.
“The UTS high-performance interactive computing facility allowed our team to simulate the entire system, including nearly half a million nonlinearly behaving elements,” said Associate Professor Fatahi.
“We can now optimize the design of these energy storage reservoirs against large earthquakes, improving their safety and security and mitigating the significant environmental and economic consequences of failure.”
There are currently around ten major LNG production facilities in Australia serving local demand, with nearly 100 million tonnes of LNG exported overseas each year.
LNG is usually contained in a vertical circular steel container made of high ductility materials such as 9% nickel steel, while a second container, often of reinforced concrete, is required for external protection and weather sealing. steam or confinement.
Associate Professor Fatahi said the most common locations for LNG tanks are coastal regions, which often have poor ground conditions, requiring deep pile foundations. Thus, building LNG plants can cost billions of dollars and there is a strong demand to minimize construction costs while ensuring safety and security.
“Our model can increase the reliability of LNG tank designs to avoid catastrophic failures similar to the damage caused to LNG tanks in Japan after the 7.5 magnitude Niigata earthquake, which resulted in fires and explosions uncontrolled with severe environmental pollution,” he said.
“We have developed an analysis and design method encompassing LNG, inner and outer tanks, foundations and the interaction between them, using a single computer model capable of modeling the entire tank system in a single stage.
“In addition, our findings, recently published in the Earthquake Engineering Bulletin and Performance log of built facilitieshave shown that optimizing the design of LNG tanks can lead to a reduction in the construction costs of these megaprojects.
“This will provide an opportunity to build more of these large energy storage facilities, contributing to better global energy security and a growing economy.
“The war in Ukraine, recent flooding on the east coast affecting mine workings and power plant supply, seasonally low levels of renewable energy production and plant outages have all contributed to the current challenge of the energy supply and the sharp rise in prices in Australia.
“Building more LNG storage facilities can allow Australia to store more energy at the right time and use it when demand is high without affecting our international export commitments.
“These storage facilities could also be used in the future for storing other types of energy such as hydrogen or ammonia as a hydrogen carrier,” said Associate Professor Fatahi.
The research team is now investigating the use of polymeric materials for seismic protection of large storage reservoirs for these emerging energy resources.
The team included Associate Professor Fatahi, supported by PhD student Ms. Noor Sharari from UTS’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with Dr. Aslan Hokmabadi and Dr. Ruoshi Xu from industry partner Arup.