Submarine petroleum pipelines, risers and jumpers suffer static and dynamic loads due to sea currents and waves, due to the displacements of the floating production units and due to the internal flow, among other causes. Mitigating the oscillations caused by such excitations is critical to the reliability and fatigue of those underwater bodies. The Pounding Tuned Mass Damper (PTMD) is one device that may be employed to absorb and dissipate vibrations. These devices have long been used for mechanical systems operating in the atmosphere, but are new for underwater applications. This paper presents a study of the behaviour of a PTMD working underwater.

A small scale laboratory apparatus was built to assess the effect of the absorber on the oscillation of a pipe submerged in a water tank. The PTMD was attached to a test pipe section mounted on an elastic suspension harness. The PTMD model is a lumped mass-spring attachment similar to a tuned mass dumper (TMD) suppressor, but with the addition of a pounding layer, which limits the motion of the PTMD mass, dissipating the energy of the oscillating pipe through the impact of the PTMD mass against that layer. Free and forced oscillation experiments were executed in air and in water, with and without the oscillation absorber, to determine the effectiveness of the PTMD. The tests were run on a range of excitation frequencies and the amplification factors were obtained for each case.

The data show a remarkable influence of the surrounding media on the dynamics of the pipe-absorber system, therefore the interaction with the water must be taken into consideration in the design of the system. Although the results are only a preliminary step on the development of a device applicable to an actual petroleum submarine pipeline, it was observed that the PTMD does indeed suppress the vibrations, but it must be properly configured to achieve an optimum performance. The data gathered from this work will also be useful in the improvement of a numerical model of the pipe-PTMD system for use in a computer simulator.

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