Non-linear finite-element analysis of the shear response in prestressed concrete bridges
Journal article, 2009
For the structural assessment of concrete bridges, the non-linear finite-element method has become an important and increasingly used tool. The method has shown a great potential to reveal higher load-carrying capacity compared with conventional assessment methods. However, the modelling method used for reinforced and prestressed concrete members subjected to shear and torsion has been questioned. The aim of this study is to present an analysis method for evaluation of the load-carrying capacity of prestressed concrete bridges, when failure resulting from shear and torsion is the main problem. The modelling method used was previously worked out and verified for shear-type cracking and shear failure. Here, shell elements with embedded reinforcement were used together with non-linear material models, taking into account the fracture energy of cracking plain concrete and the reduction of the concrete compression strength owing to lateral tensile strain. Analyses with the method proposed have shown to predict the shear response and the shear capacity on the safe side. In the work presented here, the load-carrying capacity of a box-girder bridge was evaluated as a case study. The whole bridge was modelled, but only the part that was most critical to shear and torsion was modelled according to the method previously worked out and was combined with beam elements for the rest of the bridge. The case study showed a substantially higher load-carrying capacity for the bridge compared with the assessment with conventional methods. In the evaluation, several possible safety formats were used in combination with the non-linear finite-element method. It was shown that the format using partial safety factors gave unrealistic conservative results; it is more correct to use the semi-probabilistic formats for non-linear finite-element analysis. © 2009 Thomas Telford Ltd.