Seismic performance evaluation of switchboard cabinets using nonlinear numerical models
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Past earthquake events have shown that seismic damage to electrical power systems in commercial buildings, hospitals, and other systems such as public service facilities can cause serious economic losses as well as operational problems. A methodology for evaluation of the seismic vulnerability of electrical power systems is needed and all essential components of the system must be included. A key system component is the switchboard cabinet which houses many different elements which control and monitor electrical power usage and distribution within a building. Switchboard cabinets vary in size and complexity and are manufactured by a number of different suppliers; a typical cabinet design was chosen for detailed evaluation in this investigation. This study presents a comprehensive framework for the evaluation of the seismic performance of electrical switchboard cabinets. This framework begins with the introduction and description of the essential equipment in building electrical power systems and explains possible seismic damage to this equipment. The shortcomings of previous studies are highlighted and advanced finite element models are developed to aid in their vulnerability estimation. Unlike previous research in this area, this study proposes practical, computationally efficient, and versatile numerical models, which can capture the critical nonlinear behavior of switchboard cabinets subjected to seismic excitations. A major goal of the current study was the development of nonlinear numerical models that can accommodate various support boundary conditions ranging from fixed, elasto-plastic to free. Using both linear and nonlinear dynamic analyses, this study presents an enhanced evaluation of the seismic behavior of switchboard cabinets. First the dynamic characteristics of switchboard cabinets are determined and then their seismic performance is assessed through nonlinear time history analysis using an expanded suite of ground motions. The seismic responses and associated ground motions are described and analyzed using probabilistic seismic demand models (PSDMs). Based on the PSDMs, the effectiveness and practicality of common intensity measures are discussed for different components. Correlation of intensity measures and seismic responses are then estimated for each component, and their seismic performance and uncertainties are quantified in terms of engineering demand parameters. The results of this study are intended for use in the seismic vulnerability assessment of essential electrical equipment in order to achieve more reliable electrical power systems resulting in reduced overall risk of both physical and operational failures of this important class of nonstructural components.