Computational modeling of prestress transfer, end-region cracks and shear behavior in prestressed concrete I-girders employing large-diameter strands
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Prestressed concrete girders are commonly fabricated with 0.5-in. (12.7-mm) or 0.6-in. (15.2-mm) diameter prestressing strands. Recent interest in the use of larger (0.7-in. (17.8-mm) diameter) strands has been driven by potential benefits associated with reduction of the required number of strands and fabrication time, or potential increases in the workable range of prestressed concrete girders (i.e., greater capacities and span capabilities). A limited number of experiments on full-scale specimens with 0.7-in. (17.8-mm) diameter strands have shown that the load-carrying capacity and strand transfer length of specimens with 0.7-in. (17.8-mm) diameter strands can be conservatively estimated using existing AASHTO LRFD provisions. However, performance at prestress transfer requires further investigation to ensure that application of the strands with standard 2-in. (50-mm) spacing and conventional concrete release strength does not increase the end-region cracking that is characteristic of prestressed girders. It must be verified that the development of such cracks does not stimulate anchorage-driven or premature shear failures prior to yielding of the shear reinforcement. Previous research lacks in monitoring of reinforcement stresses and evaluation of end-region cracking which has long been a durability concern. A reliable finite element model that captures the behavior of the specimen at prestress transfer with consideration of performance from construction stages, over the course of the service life, and up to the ultimate limit state can provide key insight into the suitability of using of 0.7-in. (17.8-mm) diameter strands. Further, it could serve as an economical tool for the investigation and proposal of efficient end-region reinforcing details to reduce concrete cracking and enhance durability. Finite element analyses of prestressed I-girder end-regions encompassing cracking and long-term creep- and shrinkage-induced damage, especially in girders fabricated with large diameter strands, have been limited. This research program assessed the limitations of 0.7-in. (17.8-mm) diameter strands at prestress transfer up to limit state response and investigated measures for enhancing the serviceability of the girders through finite element analyses using the commercial software, ATENA 3D. The finite element study was complemented with a full-scale experimental program which was used to validate the numerical results. This paper lays out a validated procedure for modeling the construction stages of prestressed girders and load testing. The model was then used as a tool for investigating alternative end-region reinforcement details for improved end-region serviceability. The most promising options are presented for consideration in further experimental studies and future implementation
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