What is Resonance? (Identification)(Fully Explained)

In this post, we explore the intricacies of resonance, identification methods, importance of resonance identification during the design phase and how to de-tune equipment to prevent damage from resonant frequencies.

What is Resonance?

Resonance is a phenomenon that occurs when an object or system is driven to oscillate at its natural frequency by an external force or stimulus. This causes the system to vibrate with greater amplitude, leading to an amplified response.

This principle is observed in various fields, including physics, engineering, and even biology. While beneficial in some cases, such as enhancing sound in musical instruments or radio signals, resonance can also lead to destructive outcomes if not properly managed, such as structural damage in engineering applications.

Why is Resonance Important?

Resonance is a critical consideration in the oil and gas industry as well. Many components of oil and gas infrastructure, such as pipelines, drilling rigs, and processing equipment, are subject to vibrations and oscillatory forces. When these forces match the natural frequencies of these components, resonance can occur, leading to potentially destructive effects.

For Example:

1. Pipelines: Pipelines can vibrate due to the flow of oil and gas, especially in the presence of turbulent flow or pressure fluctuations. If the frequency of these vibrations matches the natural frequency of the pipeline (or a section of it), resonance can occur, leading to amplified vibrations that could potentially cause structural failure.

2. Pumps and Compressors: Rotating machinery, such as pumps and compressors, produce periodic forces that can cause vibration. If these forces coincide with the natural frequencies of the equipment or supporting structure, resonance can lead to excessive vibration, premature wear, and potential equipment failure.

3. Drilling Operations: During drilling operations, the drill string can experience vibrations due to interaction with the wellbore, formation properties, and drilling mud. Resonance can occur if these vibrations match the drill string’s natural frequencies, leading to issues such as reduced drilling efficiency, premature tool failure, or wellbore instability.

4. Offshore Platforms: Offshore oil and gas platforms are subjected to environmental forces from waves, wind, and currents. Resonance can occur if these forces coincide with the platform’s natural frequencies, potentially leading to large oscillations and structural damage.

To manage these risks, engineers in the oil and gas industry employ a range of strategies, including resonance identification, vibration analysis, appropriate design and material selection, damping and isolation techniques, and regular monitoring and maintenance. These practices help ensure the safety, reliability, and longevity of critical oil and gas infrastructure.

What is Resonance Identification?

Resonance identification is the process of determining the natural frequencies at which a system or structure tends to vibrate with maximum amplitude when subjected to external excitation. Resonance occurs when the excitation frequency matches one of the natural frequencies of the system, resulting in a significant amplification of vibrations.


Figure 1: Resonant Frequency Identification

The identification of resonance involves several steps:

1. Structural Dynamics Analysis: A structural dynamics analysis is performed to characterize the dynamic behavior of the system. This analysis includes studying the geometry, material properties, and boundary conditions to determine the natural frequencies and mode shapes of the structure. Analytical methods or numerical techniques like finite element analysis (FEA) are commonly used for this purpose.

2. Modal Analysis: Modal analysis is conducted to identify the modes of vibration and their corresponding natural frequencies. Modal analysis helps determine the vibration modes, which are the shapes that the structure assumes during vibration at different frequencies. Each mode has a specific natural frequency associated with it.

3. Frequency Response Analysis: Frequency response analysis is performed to understand how the system responds to different excitation frequencies. This analysis considers the dynamic characteristics of the system, including damping, and evaluates the amplitude and phase of the system’s response as a function of frequency. By plotting the frequency response, critical frequencies that correspond to resonant conditions can be identified.

4. Excitation Source Consideration: Resonance identification also involves considering the possible excitation sources that the system may encounter during its operation. These sources can be external forces, mechanical components, or fluid flow-induced vibrations. By evaluating the frequencies and magnitudes of these excitations, potential resonance conditions can be assessed.

5. Experimental Validation: In some cases, experimental modal analysis and testing may be conducted to verify the natural frequencies and mode shapes predicted by analytical or numerical models. This validation helps ensure the accuracy of the resonance identification and allows for refinement of the models if necessary.

Resonance identification is essential in various fields, including structural engineering, mechanical systems design, and vibration analysis. By understanding and identifying the resonant frequencies of a system, engineers can take appropriate measures to avoid or mitigate resonant conditions, such as modifying the design, adding damping elements, or adjusting operational parameters. This helps ensure the structural integrity, performance, and safety of the system during its operation.

Resonance Identification During Design Phase:

During the design stage, it is crucial to ensure that potential resonance issues are addressed early on to minimize the risk of structural failures and operational problems. Here are some key considerations for resonance identification during the design stage:

1. Structural Dynamics Analysis: Perform structural dynamics analysis to determine the natural frequencies and mode shapes of the system. This analysis involves considering factors such as the geometry, material properties, and boundary conditions of the structure. Finite element analysis (FEA) or analytical methods can be employed to calculate the natural frequencies and modes.

2. Modal Analysis: Conduct modal analysis to identify the modes of vibration and their corresponding frequencies. This analysis helps identify potential resonance modes and their participation factors. Mode shapes can also provide insights into potential areas of high stress or displacement.

3. Frequency Response Analysis: Perform frequency response analysis to assess the dynamic response of the system to different excitation frequencies. This analysis helps identify critical frequencies at which resonant conditions may occur. Consider different types of excitations that the system may encounter during its operation.

4. Avoidance of Coincident Frequencies: Pay attention to avoiding coincident frequencies between the excitation sources and the natural frequencies of the structure. Coincident frequencies can lead to resonant amplification and increased vibration amplitudes.

5. Material Selection: Optimize the material selection to minimize the risk of resonance. Some materials may exhibit lower natural frequencies or higher damping characteristics, making them less susceptible to resonance effects.

6. Design Modifications: Implement design modifications to mitigate resonance issues. This can include adjusting the stiffness, mass distribution, or adding damping elements to the system. For example, adding tuned mass dampers or viscous dampers can help dissipate energy and reduce vibrations.

7. Experimental Validation: Conduct physical testing or prototype validation to verify the accuracy of the analytical models and predictions. Experimental modal analysis can provide valuable data to validate the resonance identification and assess the system’s response.

8. Industry Guidelines and Standards: Refer to industry guidelines, such as ISO 10137:2017 (Mechanical vibration and shock – Measurement and evaluation of mechanical vibration of reciprocating compressors), and other relevant standards that provide specific recommendations for resonance identification and mitigation during the design stage.

By incorporating resonance identification and mitigation strategies early in the design process, engineers can proactively address potential resonance issues, optimize the structural integrity, and ensure safe and reliable operation of the system.

How to De-tune Equipment (Vibration Isolation or Damping):

The process of de-tuning equipment to avoid resonant frequencies is typically referred to as vibration isolation or damping. This process is complex and typically requires a detailed understanding of the system, including its natural frequencies and the possible forcing frequencies it may be subjected to. Some steps to help de-tune a piece of equipment include:

1. Identify Natural Frequencies: First, you need to identify the natural frequencies of the equipment. These are the frequencies at which the equipment naturally vibrates. This can be done through techniques such as experimental modal analysis, finite element analysis, or computational simulations.

2. Identify Forcing Frequencies: Next, identify the forcing frequencies. These are the frequencies that the equipment is exposed to during operation, which may come from sources such as rotating parts, electrical currents, or ambient vibrations.

3. Compare Frequencies: Compare the natural frequencies with the forcing frequencies. If any of the forcing frequencies are close to the natural frequencies, then there is a risk of resonance, which can cause excessive vibrations and potentially damage the equipment.

4. Design and Implement Vibration Isolation or Damping System: If there are matching frequencies, a vibration isolation or damping system may be needed. This could include devices like rubber mounts, springs, dampers, or tuned mass dampers. The specific design and selection of these components will depend on the specifics of your system and the frequencies involved.

5. Simulation and Testing: Before implementation, it’s typically a good idea to simulate the effects of your proposed solution, if possible. Once implemented, testing should be performed to confirm the effectiveness of the solution.

6. Periodic Review: Even after successful implementation, it’s a good idea to periodically check the system to ensure continued effectiveness. Over time, wear and tear can change the natural frequencies of a system, potentially leading to new resonance issues.


Resonance identification is an indispensable process in maintaining the integrity and longevity of a system. The steps involved, from structural dynamics analysis to experimental validation, help engineers understand and manage the resonant frequencies of a system, ensuring its safety and optimal performance.

Additionally, early identification and mitigation strategies during the design phase reduce the risk of potential issues related to resonance. When there are matching natural and forcing frequencies, a vibration isolation or damping system may be needed, requiring careful design, simulation, testing, and periodic review. With a comprehensive understanding of resonance and its management, engineers can effectively prevent resonant conditions and ensure the reliable operation of their systems.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *