Collapse by Ponding of Air-Supported Membranes

by David J. Malcolm, (A.M.ASCE), Asst. Prof.; Dept. of Mech. Engrg., Univ. of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada,
Peter G. Glockner, (M.ASCE), Prof. and Head; Dept. of Mech. Engrg., Univ. of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada,

Serial Information: Journal of the Structural Division, 1978, Vol. 104, Issue 9, Pg. 1525-1532

Document Type: Journal Paper


An examination is made of the stability of a cylindrical air-supported membrane supporting a central line load and subject to ponding by a fluid in the hollow so caused. A critical value of the central load is shown to exist and its value is obtained by a numerical analysis. Results from the analysis indicate that low profile air-supported structures should be less liable to failure by this mode of collapse than inflatables with a semi-circular profile. However, under normal operating pressures even the latter require loads of the order of 400 N/m (27 lb/ft) in the presence of water to cause collapse of structures with a span of 50 m. Nevertheless designs should be examined carefully in view of possiblee pressure reductions coinciding with internal or external roof loadings.

Subject Headings: Structural failures | Membranes | Failure analysis | Failure modes | Critical loads | Numerical analysis | Failure loads | Water pressure

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