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Tuned-Mass Damper Design

A Case Study

Dr. James (Jay) Lamb Structural Engenuity, Inc.

(972) 247-9250 x212


What is a Tuned-Mass Damper?

Case Study: TETRA Technologies Project

Initial Site SurveyWill a Tuned-Mass Damper Work? Tuned-Mass Damper Design and Analysis Prototype Testing Installation and Performance Verification

Summary and Conclusions

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Tuned-Mass Dampers
A tuned-mass damper is a mass-spring-damper system that is attached to a structure to reduce the amplitude of undesirable motion The mass, spring stiffness, and damping factor must be tuned relative to the existing structures dominant mode (frequency fMode fTMD) responsible for the motion The location on the structure where the TMD(s) is/are attached is critical

TMDs can have many different forms depending upon the application:
Mass and Coil Spring Mass and Flexure



1 2


Ideal for low-frequency applications like tall buildings or flexible walkways

A very compact form of TMD; ideal for space-limited applications or when concealment is critical


1 2

48 EI L3 m


1 2

g L

Probably the least expensive form of TMD; can be tailored for almost any application
Tuned-Mass Damper DesignCase Study, 3

TETRA Technologies CaCl2 Plant

Site Overview
Control room swayed sideto-side immediately when plant opened
Control Room

Motion persists throughout the day and night Staff irritated by level of motion and complained to management

Original engineers tried and failed to solve the problem

SEI Asked to Perform a Site Vibration Survey, Identify the Cause of the Problem, and Provide Recommendations for Possible Solutions
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Site SurveyProblem Diagnosis (1/2)

Control Room and Structural Frame

Power Spectrum

Measured vibration data at foundation, along a column, and in the control room

SEI Measured and Identified all Significant Sources of Vibration; The 3.5-Hz Motion is the Primary Source of the Staffs Discomfort
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Site SurveyProblem Diagnosis (2/2)

Human Perception Criteria Measured Control Room Vibration (3.5 Hz)
Data filtered around 3.5 Hz

Front-to-Back Criteria

Limit = 0.005 g

0.005-g Limit

Vibration Near 3.5 Hz is 3 Times Higher than the Human-Comfort Limit; Ground-Borne Vibration Excites the Sway Mode of Structural Frame Need to Reduce Vibration by 70%Tuned-Mass Damper is Practical Solution
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Structural Dynamics Model of Existing Building

Finite Element Model
28 ft 24 ft Control Room Mass (both sides)

Structural member properties taken from existing-structure drawings Mass of cables and pipes (not shown) at each level estimated from photographs

18 ft

12 ft

Mass of prefabricated control room (not shown) obtained from manufacturer; additional mass of fit-out estimated

Structural Model has Same Stiffness and Mass Properties as Existing Structure; Only 3 Bays Modeled Because They Act Independently in East/West Direction
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Model Validation via Frequency Response

Frame Sway Mode (3.5 Hz)

Frequency Response
Motion at top (control room) is magnified by factor of 85 relative to motion of foundation

Ratio of control room motion 3.5 Hz to foundation motion

Model Parameters Adjusted so Models Sway Mode Matches the Measured Motion of 3.5 HzModel can now be Used to Design/Assess TMDs
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TMD Conceptual Design

Flexure-type (cantilever) TMD is appropriate for this structure Constrained-layer damping is incorporated into joint
Attach to Existing Bldg Damping in joint Flexure Bars

Flexure bars must be stiffer to compensate for joint flexibility East/West flexural mode (fTMD) required to be 3.4 Hz ( 3.5 Hz) Place 3 TMDs on the columns supporting the control room


Idealized Model

Simple Design of Flexure-Based TMD Minimizes Cost and Performance can be Verified During Prototype Testing Before Final Installation
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Optimum TMD Performance

Reduction in Vibration
(Increases With TMD Mass)

TMD and Bldg 90 Out of Phase


TMD and Bldg Move in Phase

TMD Opposes Bldg Motion


In-Phase Mode

TMD Has No Effect at Frequencies Below or Above the Tuning Frequency Original Bldg Bldg with TMD
TMD Mass

Out-of-Phase Mode

TMD Mass

Analysis Indicates TMDs Reduce Vibration by 90% of Initial Level Near 3.5 HzReal Performance will not be this Good
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TMD Internal Damping Optimization

Frequency Response: Effect of TMD Damping
Maximum Reduction Original Bldg In-phase mode Out-of-phase mode


If TMD damping is too low, both peaks for the in-phase and outof-phase modes will be present Optimal damping produces a nearly flat curve If damping is too high, the two modes merge into a single peak TMDs made of steel or aluminum usually require additional damping be incorporated

There is an Optimal Level of Internal Damping, but 8% to 16% Critical Damping Usually Yields a Robust Range for Very Good Performance
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Vibration Mitigation Effectiveness = TMD Mass

Frequency Response: Effect of TMD Mass
Determine vibration reduction over band for broadband excitation

R 1


f High

f Low f High f Low

H m ( f ) 2 df H 0 ( f ) 2 df

Results for optimized damping for each TMD mass

Results (1-Hz Bandwidth):

190 lbm 47% reduction 375 lbm 55% reduction 750 lbm 63% reduction 1500 lbm 71% reduction 3000 lbm 78% reduction

Selection of bandwidth is somewhat arbitrary

fLow fHigh

Increment of improvement in vibration mitigation diminishes with increasing mass

Select TMD Mass to Achieve Desired Mitigation Over Narrow Band (1 Hz) Need to Reduce Vibration by at Least 70% HereUse 1500 lbm/TMD
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Prototype TMD Testing

45-in Long Flexure Constrained-Layer Damping 41-in Long Flexure

31-in Long Flexure

SEI Tested Various Combinations of TMD Flexure Bar Lengths and Constrained-Layer Damping Materials to Find Best Combination

SBR Rubber Layers and a Flexure Bar of 37.5 inches Identified as Best Combination and Provides About 12% Damping
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Installation and Performance Assessment

TMDs Installed on Structure Before/After Vibration

SEI tested the TMDs after installation to verify the tuning. Data were also acquired in the control room for comparison with the original motion

Tuned-Mass Dampers Successfully Reduce the Vibration in the Control Room Below 0.005-g Limit; Staff Report Environment is Significantly Better Now
Tuned-Mass Damper DesignCase Study, 14

Summary and Conclusions

Tuned-mass dampers can be fabricated in many different forms based on the physical and aesthetic constraints of the application

Tuned-mass dampers are viable vibration mitigation solutions when the motion is caused by a low-damped mode of the structure
Design process for tuned-mass dampers

Site Survey: Measure the frequency and magnitude of the undesirable motion Analyze/Design: Develop model of existing structure and determine the TMD
mass and placement of TMD(s) to achieve vibration mitigation requirement

Test: Perform prototype testing of the TMD to fine-tune the design Install/Verify: Measure the motion of the TMD(s) on the structure to confirm
performance and that the mitigation objective was achieved

Expect 70% to 80% reduction in the vibration after installation Weight of TMD is typically about 5% to 10% of effective weight of mode responsible for the motion
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Contact SEI

Please contact us with any vibration mitigation issues you have and let us help you to resolve them

Structural Engenuity, Inc.

Dr. James (Jay) L. Lamb
Office: (972) 247-9250 Cell: (214) 412-8388
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