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Limits to Plastic Analysis due to Size-Scale Effects on the Rotational Capacity of Reinforced Concrete Cross Sections

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Reinforced concrete (RC) structures are usually designed to provide a ductile response under bending loadings. To this aim, most codes of practice impose lower and upper limits to the steel ratio in order to prevent unstable crack propagation and to avoid brittle failure due to concrete crushing without steel yielding. Within these limitations, elastic analysis with moment redistribution or even plastic analysis can be adopted for RC structures. In this context, size-scale effects are usually disregarded, leading to unsafe design conditions in the case of large structures.

In the present study, the limitations of the prescriptions provided by the European and American building codes concerning the admissible plastic rotation and moment redistribution are highlighted. In particular, using a numerical algorithm based on the finite element method and on nonlinear fracture mechanics concepts recently developed by the present authors, the mechanical behaviour of the plastic hinge region of RC beams in bending is simulated. The results show that the effect of the structural dimension should be explicitly introduced in the code prescriptions for a safe structural design, by considering different design curves depending on the size-scale of the beams.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-08-01

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    Structural Engineering International (SEI), the quarterly Journal of IABSE, published since 1991, is the leading international journal of structural engineering dealing with all types of structures and materials. SEI offers its readers a unique blend of short profiles on recent structures, and longer, in-depth technical articles on research, development, design, construction and maintenance. Articles are written by practicing engineers and academia from around the world and reflect the high standards of IABSE. IABSE Peer Review stamps are given to papers that have passed through a highly selective review process and demonstrate a significant contribution to the state of structural engineering knowledge.To recognise contributions of the highest quality, an Outstanding Paper Award is presented each year.

    SEI is printed in Switzerland; ISSN 1016-8664; E-ISSN 1683-0350
    Abstracted and indexed at: Web of ScienceSM; Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch); Journal Citation Reports/Science Edition; Current ContentsR/Engineering, Computing and Technology; CAB Abstracts database; INSPEC, CBA and others.

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