Design And Analysis Of Cooling Tower Pile Foundations

Oakland, Michael W.
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2010
This paper summarizes the analysis and design of a pile foundation system for two 400 ft. diameter, 500 ft. high cooling tower using a detailed finite element analysis package. The cooling towers are at the Brayton Point Power Plant in Somerset, Massachusetts. The design-build project will convert the power plant to a closed loop cooling system to reduce return of heated water to the bay. Each cooling tower is supported on a 5 ft. thick by 16 ft. wide ring beam with 44 columns oriented in a radial pattern. The allowable lateral movement on the thin wall shell was limited to only 0.5 inches. Lateral and tension resistance were the primary concerns for the large, but lightweight structure and the critical issue was the lateral response of piles and pile groups within the system. By constructing a detailed model of the foundation system including modeling each pile as an independent element, the contribution of each element was separately assessed and the system tuned to take best advantage of the load distribution afforded by the ring beam as well as the soil structure interaction created by tangential as well as radial resistance of the pile groups. The detailed model also incorporated the lateral resistance of interior piles supporting an equipment slab within the ring beam. Simpler models analyzed the pile groups independent of the complete structure and generally only relied on radial stiffness and generally resulted in large groups of piles needed at each pier. Through a series of trial configurations, the number of piles used was optimized. Confirmatory lateral, vertical and tension load tests were conducted and final fine tuning of the model completed.
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