Optimization of Highway Bridge Girders for Use with Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC)

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Virginia Tech


Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) is a class of cementitious materials that share similar characteristics including very large compressive strengths, tensile strength greater than conventional concrete and high durability. The material consists of finely graded cementitious particles and aggregates to develop a durable dense matrix. The addition of steel fibers increases ductility such that the material develops usable tensile strength. The durability and strength of UHPC makes it a desirable material for the production of highway bridge girders. However, UHPC's unique constitutive materials make it more expensive than conventional concrete. The cost and lack of appropriate design guidelines has limited its introduction into bridge products.

The investigation presented in this thesis developed several optimization formulations to determine a suitable bridge girder shape for use with UHPC. The goal of this optimization was to develop a methodology of using UHPC in highway bridge designs that was cost competitive with conventional concrete solutions. Several surveys and field visits were performed to identify the important aspects of girder fabrication. Optimizations were formulated to develop optimized girder cross sections and full bridge design configurations that utilize UHPC. The results showed that for spans greater than 90 ft UHPC used in the proposed girder shape was more economical than conventional girders. The optimizations and surveys resulted in the development of a proposed method to utilize UHPC in highway bridges utilizing existing girder shapes and formwork. The proposed method consists of three simple calculations to transform an initial conventional design to an initial design using modified UHPC girders.



Bridge, Girder, UHPC, Ultra High Performance Concrete, Optimization