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Earthquake Resilient Bridge Columns Utilizing Damage Resistant Hybrid Fiber Reinforced Concrete

  • Author(s): Trono, William Dean
  • Advisor(s): Ostertag, Claudia P;
  • Panagiotou, Marios
  • et al.

Modern reinforced concrete bridges are designed to avoid collapse and to prevent loss of life during earthquakes. To meet these objectives, bridge columns are typically detailed to form ductile plastic hinges when large displacements occur. California seismic design criteria acknowledges that damage such as concrete cover spalling and reinforcing bar yielding may occur in columns during a design-level earthquake.

The seismic resilience of bridge columns can be improved through the use of a damage resistant hybrid fiber reinforced concrete (HyFRC). Fibers delay crack propagation and prevent spalling under extreme loading conditions, and the material resists many typical concrete deterioration mechanisms through multi-scale crack control.

Little is known about the response of the material when combined with conventional reinforcing bars. Therefore, experimental testing was conducted to evaluate such behaviors. One area of focus was the compression response of HyFRC when confined by steel spirals. A second focus was the tensile response of rebar embedded in HyFRC. Bridge columns built with HyFRC would be expected to experience both of these loading conditions during earthquakes.

The third focus of this dissertation was the design, modeling, and testing of an innovative damage resistant HyFRC bridge column. The column was designed to rock about its foundation during earthquakes and to return to its original position thereafter. In addition to HyFRC, it was designed with unbonded post-tensioning, unbonded rebar, and headed rebar which terminated at the rocking plane. Because of these novel details, the column was not expected to incur damage or residual displacements under earthquake demands exceeding the design level for ordinary California bridges. A sequence of scaled, three dimensional ground motion records was applied to the damage resistant column on a shaking table. An equal scale reinforced concrete reference column with conventional design details was subjected to the same motions for direct comparison.

Compression tests showed that the ductility of HyFRC is superior to concrete in the post-peak softening branch of the response. HyFRC achieved a stable softening response and had significant residual load capacity even without spiral confinement. Concrete required the highest tested levels of confinement to achieved comparable post-peak ductility. Tension tests showed that HyFRC provides a substantial strength enhancement to rebar well beyond their yield point. Interesting crack localization behavior was observed in HyFRC specimens and appeared to be dependent on the volumetric ratio of rebar.

The damage resistant HyFRC bridge column attained its design objectives during experimental testing. It exhibited pronounced reentering behavior with only light damage under earthquake demands 1.5 to 2.0 times the design level. It accumulated only 0.4% residual drift ratio after seven successive ground motions which caused a peak drift ratio of 8.0%. The conventional reinforced concrete column experienced flexural plastic hinging with extensive spalling during the same seven motions. It accumulated 6.8% residual drift ratio after enduring a peak drift ratio of 10.8%.

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