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Nonlinear FEM load bearing capacity assessment of a concrete bridge subjected to support settlements: Case of a continious slab bridge with angled supports
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Civil and Architectural Engineering, Structural Engineering and Bridges.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A nonlinear finite element analysis was performed for an existing road bridge in order to see if that could show a higher load bearing capacity, as an alternative to repairing or replacing. The regular linear analysis had shown that the bridge could not take any traffic load due to the effects from large and uneven support settlements. It is a five-span reinforced concrete bridge with a continuous slab on supports made out of rows of columns. The width-to-span ratio was around 1 and the supports were angled up to about 30°, giving rise to a complex three-dimensional behaviour, which was seen and studied in the nonlinear results. Since the bending moment was the limiting factor, the nonlinear analysis focused on that. The direct result was that the load bearing capacity was 730 kN for the traffic vehicle boogie load, B, in the ultimate limit state. This was however only for the load case tested, and several more disadvantageous vehicle positions may exist. Other aspects also became limiting, as the maximum allowed vertical deflection in the serviceability limit state was reached at 457 kN. The most restraining though, was the shear capacity from the linear analysis; 78 kN, since it was not possible to simulate that type of failure with the shell elements used in the nonlinear finite element analysis. The main aim of the thesis was nonetheless reached, since the nonlinear analysis was able to show a significant increase in load bearing capacity. 

A comparison was made with the settlements for the nonlinear case, to see how much influence they had on the load bearing capacity for traffic load. This was performed for both the bridge and a simple two-span beam. Both showed that there was no effect on the load bearing capacity in the ultimate limit. One thing to note was that the full settlements were applied, and with no relaxation due to creep. 

Another aim of the thesis was to make comments on the practical usability of the nonlinear finite element method in load bearing capacity assessments. A linear analysis was performed before the nonlinear in order to be able to determine the load case to be used in the latter. This worked well, as the strengths of the two methods could then be utilized. Convergence problems were however encountered for the nonlinear when using the regular static solver. Due to this, the dynamic explicit calculation scheme was used instead, treating the case as quasi-static. This managed to produce enough usable results. It was concluded that the nonlinear finite element method is useable for assessment calculations, but that its strengths and weaknesses must be known in order to make it an efficient method.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 163 p.
TRITA-BKN-Examensarbete, ISSN 1103-4297 ; 398
Keyword [en]
Nonlinear finite element method; concrete slab brigde; support settlements; load bearing capacity assessment; angled supports; Abaqus
National Category
Infrastructure Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-138515ISRN: 1103-4297OAI: diva2:681245
Subject / course
Structural Design and Bridges
Educational program
Master of Science in Engineering - Urban Management
2013-10-25, Projekthallen, Brinellvägen 23, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2014-07-03 Created: 2013-12-19 Last updated: 2014-07-03Bibliographically approved

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