Development of Meteorological Towers Using Advanced Composite Materials
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The research program involved both numerical and experimental work. The numerical analysis was conducted to simulate the static and dynamic behaviour of the 81 m meteorological FRP guyed tower under wind and ice loading. The FRP tower consisted of 16 segments each made of 3 cells connected together to form an equilateral triangle having equal sides of 450 mm. The segments were interconnected using internal sleeves. Various non-linear finite element models were developed to study a number of design parameters for the 81 m FRP tower such as, different laminates containing a variety of stacking sequences of laminate orientations with various thicknesses, different cable diameters, and appropriate guy cable spacing levels. The effect of pre-stressing the guy cables up to 10 % of their breaking strength was investigated. The effect of fibre volume fraction on the design of the FRP tower was also examined. Furthermore, an 8.6 m FRP tower segment was designed using the finite element analysis and subject to the same loading conditions experienced by the bottom section of the 81 m FRP tower. A modal analysis was carried out for both the 8.6 m FRP tower segment with and without a mass on the top as well as for the 81 m FRP guyed tower to evaluate the vibration performance of these towers. The experimental work involved extensive material testing to define the material properties for use in the analysis of the 81 m FRP tower. It also involved the design and fabrication of a special collapsible mandrel for fabricating the FRP cells for the 8.6 m tower segment. The 8.6 m tower was tested horizontally under static lateral loading to 80 % of its estimated failure load using a “whiffle tree” arrangement, in order to simulate a uniformly distributed wind loading. Later, the same FRP tower was erected in a vertical position and was tested with and without a mass on top under dynamic loading to obtain the natural frequencies. Lastly, a comparative study was conducted between two 81 m FRP towers having different fibre volume fractions and a steel tower having a circular cross section.