Tutorial on Acoustic Fluid Loading of Structures



Any vibrating structure is loaded by the fluid surrounding it.  Whether air, water, or something else, the fluid loading adds a spatially distributed resistance (in phase with the vibration) and reactance (out of phase with the vibration) over the structural surfaces.  The resistance absorbs energy, and damps structural vibrations.  The reactance is either mass-like, effectively adding to the structural density, reducing resonance frequencies and vibration amplitudes; or stiffness-like, increasing resonance frequencies.  Usually, mass-like reactance is caused by fluids external to a structure, and stiffness-like reactance is caused by enclosed volumes of fluids.  This tutorial uses analytic methods to compare and contrast external and internal fluid loading on a flat rectangular plate and demonstrates the effects of fluid loading on plate vibration and radiated sound.  The well-known stiffening effect of the internal Helmholtz resonance is demonstrated for a thin panel and a shallow entrained cavity.  The differences between heavy (water) and light (air) external fluid loading are also demonstrated, with significant reductions in resonance frequencies and peak vibration amplitudes for water loading.