Development of Novel Computational Simulation Tools to Capture the Hysteretic Response and Failure of Reinforced Concrete Structures under Seismic Loads

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Virginia Tech


Reinforced concrete (RC) structures constitute a significant portion of the building inventory in earthquake-prone regions of the United States. Accurate analysis tools are necessary to allow the quantitative assessment of the performance and safety offered by RC structures. Currently available analytical approaches are not deemed adequate, because they either rely on overly simplified models or are restricted to monotonic loading. The present study is aimed to establish analytical tools for the accurate simulation of RC structures under earthquake loads. The tools are also applicable to the simulation of reinforced masonry (RM) structures.

A new material model is formulated for concrete under multiaxial, cyclic loading conditions. An elastoplastic formulation, with a non-associative flow rule to capture compression-dominated response, is combined with a rotating smeared-crack model to capture the damage associated with tensile cracking. The proposed model resolves issues which characterize existing concrete material laws. Specifically, the newly proposed formulation accurately describes the crack opening/closing behavior and the effect of confinement on the strength and ductility under compressive stress states. The model formulation is validated with analyses both at the material level and at the component level. Parametric analyses on RC columns subjected to quasi-static cyclic loading are presented to demonstrate the need to regularize the softening laws due to the spurious mesh size effect and the importance of accounting for the increased ductility in confined concrete. The impact of the shape of the yield surface on the results is also investigated.

Subsequently, a three-dimensional analysis framework, based on the explicit finite element method, is presented for the simulation of RC and RM components under cyclic static and dynamic loading. The triaxial constitutive model for concrete is combined with a material model for reinforcing steel which can account for the material hysteretic response and for rupture due to low-cycle fatigue. The reinforcing steel bars are represented with geometrically nonlinear beam elements to explicitly account for buckling of the reinforcement. The strain penetration effect is also accounted for in the models. The modeling scheme is validated with the results of experimental static and dynamic tests on RC columns and RC/RM walls. The analyses are supplemented with a sensitivity study and with calibration guidelines for the proposed modeling scheme.

Given the computational cost and complexity of three-dimensional finite element models in the simulation of shear-dominated structures, the development of a conceptually simpler and computationally more efficient method is also pursued. Specifically, the nonlinear truss analogy is employed to capture the response of shear-dominated RC columns and RM walls subjected to cyclic loading. A step-by-step procedure to establish the truss geometry is described. The uniaxial material laws for the concrete and masonry are calibrated to account for the contribution of aggregate interlock resistance across inclined shear cracks. Validation analyses are presented, for quasi-static and dynamic tests on RC columns and RM walls.



Nonlinear analysis, RC structures, Flexure-dominated, Shear-dominated, Triaxial constitutive model, Elastoplastic model, Smeared cracking, Confinement effect, Collapse, Nonlinear truss model, Aggregate interlock, Cyclic loading, Seismic loading