A least invasive method to estimate the residual strain capacity of steel reinforcement in earthquake-damaged buildings.
Thesis DisciplineCivil Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Capacity design and hierarchy of strength philosophies at the base of modern seismic codes allow inelastic response in case of severe earthquakes and thus, in most traditional systems, damage develops at well-defined locations of reinforced concrete (RC) structures, known as plastic hinges. The 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes have demonstrated that this philosophy worked as expected. Plastic hinges formed in beams, in coupling beams and at the base of columns and walls. Structures were damaged permanently, but did not collapse.
The 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes also highlighted a critical issue: the reparability of damaged buildings. No methodologies or techniques were available to estimate the level of subsequent earthquakes that RC buildings could still sustain before collapse. No repair techniques capable of restoring the initial condition of buildings were known. Finally, the cost-effectiveness of an eventual repair intervention, when compared with a new building, was unknown. These aspects, added to nuances of New Zealand building owners’ insurance coverage, encouraged the demolition of many buildings.
Moreover, there was a perceived strong demand from government and industry to develop techniques for assessing damage to steel reinforcement bars embedded in cracked structural concrete elements. The most common questions were: “Have the steel bars been damaged in correspondence to the concrete cracks?”, “How much plastic deformation have the steel bars undergone?”, and “What is the residual strain capacity of the damaged bars?” Minimally invasive techniques capable of quantifying the level and extent of plastic deformation and residual strain capacity are not yet available. Although some studies had been recently conducted, a validated method is yet to be widely accepted. In this thesis, a least-invasive method for the damage-assessment of steel reinforcement is developed. Based on the information obtained from hardness testing and a single tensile test, it is possible to estimate the mechanical properties of earthquake-damaged rebars. The reduction in the low-cycle fatigue life due to strain ageing is also quantified.
The proposed damage assessment methodology is based on empirical relationships between hardness and strain and residual strain capacity. If damage is suspected from in situ measurements, visual inspection or computer analysis, a bar may be removed and more accurate hardness measurements can be obtained using the lab-based Vickers hardness methodology. The Vickers hardness profile of damaged bars is then compared with calibration curves (Vickers hardness versus strain and residual strain capacity) previously developed for similar steel reinforcement bars extracted from undamaged locations.
Experimental tests demonstrated that the time- and temperature-dependent strain-ageing phenomenon causes changes in the mechanical properties of plastically deformed steels. In particular, yield strength and hardness increases, whereas ductility decreases. The changes in mechanical properties are quantified and their implications on the hardness method are highlighted.
Low-cycle fatigue (LCF) failures of steel reinforcing bars have been observed in laboratory testing and post-earthquake damage inspections. Often, failure might not occur during a first seismic event. However, damage is accumulated and the remaining fatigue life is reduced. Failure might therefore occur in a subsequent seismic event. Although numerous studies exist on the LCF behaviour of steel rebars, no studies had been conducted on the strain-ageing effects on the remaining fatigue life. In this thesis, the reduction in fatigue life due to this phenomenon is determined through a number of experimental tests.