Mechanical Engineering (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Aniruddha Mitra


Pressure vessels are very common pieces of equipment in industry and they are used for a variety of applications. It is standard in industry to rest pressure vessels on load cells. For some special cases, the pressure vessels are rested on load cells instead of solid foundation. Pressure vessels and their loadcells are generally designed for static environmental conditions and loading and tend to experience adverse effects when exposed to dynamic environments, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. These adverse-loading conditions cause vibrations and asymmetrical loading on the load cells, which can concurrently cause unexpected failure. This research investigates the effects of wind loading on three-legged industrial pressure vessels through experimental process and looks into the failure mechanisms of a failed load cell under wind loading. At the conclusion of this investigation a critical wind speed may be suggested for each type of pressure vessel under which the operating life of the loadcell can be affected significantly. This is measured through experimentation if a scaled-down pressure vessel shows signs of instability when exposed to an appropriate wind loading and only shows instability only in the worst-case scenario. Additionally, a surface imaging analysis of a fractured loadcell shows the nature in which this added wind loading effects the base on which the vessel rests. After reviewing the surface, it is determined that the fracture is ductile in nature and there are three stages of the fracture: an initial point of fracture, a propagation stage where the surface cracks grow and sink into the loadcell body due to continued fatigue loading and corrosion, and a final ductile failure of the loadcell geometry once it can no longer withhold its operational weight. This analysis shows that the primary cause of the surface cracking is a large quantity of low magnitude impacts coming from the pressure vessel leg when a dynamic wind loading is applied.