I am modelling an elevated silo which will be used for storing grain. The columns which support the structure are modelled as members and the walls of the silo (containment part of the structure) are modelled using plate elements. The silo has vertical and sloping walls. The loads on the structure consist of the weight of the grain contained in the silo. What is the best method for applying the load when the silo is full of grain? As pressure loads on the inside? How should the load be applied on the sloping walls?
There are 2 segments of the tank which have to be individually considered for application of the load.
The vertical walls------------------
The material in the tank, especially if it is a fluid, will exert a lateral pressure on the vertical walls of the tank. This pressure load can be applied on the tank using the ELEMENT PRESSURE load facility. You can use one of 2 options to do this.
a) A uniform pressure. If you take any individual element on the wall, if you know the pressure intensity at the top edge, and the pressure intensity at the bottom edge, the average of these 2 intensities can be applied as a constant pressure on the entire surface of the element, as in the following example :
45 PRESSURE -3.5
Since the load is along the local Z axis of the element, you do not have to specify the axis name in the above command since local Z is the default for the axis. The load value must be accompanied by the proper sign (positive or negative) which accounts for whether the load acts along or opposite to the direction of the local Z axis.
b) A trapezoidally varying pressure.
In case (a) above, we decided to take the average of the pressures at the top and bottom edges, and thus obtain a uniform pressure. However, this is not absolutely necessary. The load can be applied as a trapezoidal load, in which case, the TRAP option is used and the intensities at the top and bottom edges must be specified. An example of that is
45 PRESSURE TRAP Y -4.5 -2.5
In this example, it is assumed that the local Y axis of element 45 is along the vertical direction, and thus the trapezoidal variation is along the local Y. The load itself acts perpendicular to the surface of the element, and hence along local Z. If local Y is in the same sense as global Y, -4.5 indicates the intensity at the lower edge, and -2.5 indicates the intensity at the upper edge.
If the vertical wall has many divisions along the vertical direction, there will be several "horizontal rings" of elements. Every element contained in a ring has the same intensity at its top and bottom edge. That means, the top & bottom intensity for each of those rings will have to be manually calculated. There is a facility in the STAAD.Pro GUI to simplify this task. From the top of the screen, select Commands - Loading - Load Commands - Element - Hydrostatic Trapezoidal, and provide the intensities at the top and bottom edges of the vertical wall. The program will use the linear interpolation method to find the intensity at each intermediate division, and then create the individual element TRAPEZOIDAL loads.
The sloping walls-----------------
The load on the elements which make up these walls is derived from the weight of the column of material directly above these elements, and acts along the global vertical downward direction. You can use the trapezoidal plate load option to apply the calculated load here.