Damaged reinforced concrete structures in fire
It is crucial for a building to maintain structural stability when subjected to multiple and sequential extreme loads. Safety and economic considerations dictate that structures are built to resist extreme events, such as a earthquakes, impacts, blasts or fires, without collapse and to provide adequate time for evacuation of the occupants. However, during such events, some structural damage may be permissible. Design codes do not account for the scenario where two extreme events occur consecutively on a structure nor do they address the situation of the structure having some initial damage prior to being subjected to a fire load. This work begins by detailing the major inconsistancies between designing reinforced concrete structures for extreme mechanical loads and designing for fire. The material behaviour and traits of the constitutive parts (i.e. the concrete and the steel), including post yielding behaviour, thermal relationships and their interaction with each other are all explored in detail. Comprehensive experimental and numerical investigations are undertaken to determine whether, and to what extent, phenomena such as tensile cracking and loss of the concrete cover affect the local and global fire resistance of a member or structure. The thermal propagation through tensile cracks in reinforced concrete beams is examined experimentally. A comparison is made between the rate of thermal propagation through beams that are undamaged and beams that have significant tensile cracking. The results show that, although small differences occur, there is no significant change in the rate of thermal propagation through the specimens. Consequently, it is concluded that the effects of tensile cracking on the thermal propagation through concrete can be ignored in structural analyses. Significantly this means that analyses of heated concrete structures which are cracked can be carried out with heat-transfer and mechanical analyses being conducted sequentially, as is currently normal and fully-coupled thermo-mechanical analyses are not required. The loss of concrete cover and the impact on the thermal performance is examined numerically. A comparison is made of the thermal propagation, beam deflections and column rotations between structures that are undamaged and structures that have partial cover loss in a variety of locations and magnitudes. Results show that any loss of cover can lead to unsymmetrical heating, causing larger deflections in both vertical and horizontal directions, which can result in a more critical scenario. It is concluded that the effect of cover loss on the thermal performance of the structure is extremely significant. A new approach to numerically simulating the loss of cover by mechanical means from a member is developed. This new approach provides the user with an extremely flexible yet robust method for simulating this loss of cover. The application of this method is then carried out to show its effectiveness. A large experimental study carried out at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and separately numerically modelled at the University of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, due to unforseen circumstances, the experimental data available is limited at this time and as a result the validation of the numerical simulation is limited. Through these investigations it is clear that it is necessary to develop a method in enhance the stability and integrity of the concrete when subjected to the scenario of a fire following another mechanically extreme event. Therefore, finally a method is proposed and experimentally investigated into the use of fibres to increase the post crushing cohesiveness of the concrete when subjected to thermal loads. Results show that the fibrous members display an increased thermal resistance by retaining their concrete cover through an enhanced post crushing cohesion. From this investigation, it is concluded that the use of fibrous concrete is extremely beneficial for the application of enhancing the performance under extreme sequential mechanical and thermal loading.
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