Cylindrical steel storage tanks are shells designed to store different types of products such as liquids or grain. The thickness of the shell is calculated to withstand the circumferential stress resulting from the hydrostatic pressure due to the stored product.

A unique situation when there is no stored product leads to the vulnerability of the shell to buckle when there is wind load due to external pressure.

There are two major types of buckling modes: local and general. The local buckling mode is studied analytically in various studies and is easy to mitigate. The general buckling mode can be more damaging to the tank and more costly to mitigate.

The prevention of general buckling due to wind load pressure is achieved through the addition of stiffener rings. However, the stiffener rings design procedure used by various design standards has little known background. This paper reviews the current design approach’s origin and explains a semi-analytical justification for it. The unfolding of the design expressions can lead to more freedom in design variables selection leading to more economical designs.

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