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CEMENT and CONCRETE RESEARCH. Vol . 6, pp. 773-782, 1976. Pergamon Press, Inc.

Pri nt ed i n the United St at es.


ANALYSIS OF CRACK FORMATION AND CRACK GROWTH IN CONCRETE BY
MEANS OF FRACTURE MECHANICS AND FINITE ELEMENTS
A Hi l l er bor g, M Mod~er and P-E Petersson
Di vi si on of Bui l di ng Mat er i al s
Lund I n s t i t u t e of Technology, Lund, Sweden
(Communicated by Z. P. Bazant)
(Received August 24, 1976)
ABSTRACT
A method i s presented i n which f r act ur e mechanics i s i ntroduced i nt o
f i n i t e element anal ysi s by means of a model where st resses are assumed
to act across a crack as long as i t i s narrowl y opened. This assump-
t i on may be regarded as a way of expressi ng the energy absorpt i on G c
i n the energy balance approach, but i t i s al so i n agreement wi t h re-
sul t s of t ensi on t est s. As a demonstrati on the method has been appl i ed
t o the bending of an unrei nf orced beam, which has led to an expl ana-
t i on of the di f f er ence between bending st r engt h and t ensi l e st r engt h,
and of the var i at i on i n bending st r engt h wi t h beam depth.
Une m6thode est pr esent , e, par l aquel l e l a m6chanique des rupt ures est
i nt r odui t e dans l ' anal yse des ~l~ments f i n i s ~ l ' ai de d' un module, oO
l es cont r ai nt es sont suppos6es d' op6r er sur l es c6t6s d' une f i ssur e
t ant que cet t e f i ssur e est ~t r oi t e.
Cette hypoth~se peut et r e consid~r~e comme un moyen d' expri mer l ' ab-
sor pt i on G c d' 6ner gi e en usant l ' appr oche de l ' ~q u i l i b r e d' 6ner gi e.
Cette hypoth6se est aussi j u s t i f i 6 e par l es r 6sul t at s des essai s de
t ensi on.
Pour en prouver l a v al i di t Y, cet t e m~thode a ~t~ appl i qu~e au f l 6chi sse-
ment d' une poutre non arm~e et f our ni t une expl i cat i on de l a di f f 6r ence
ent r e l a r ~si st ance au moment de f l exi on et l a r ~si st ance ~ l ' e f f o r t de
t ensi on, ai nsi que de l a var i at i on de l a r ~si st ance au moment de f l exi on
en f onct i on de l a profondeur de l a pout re.
773
774 Vol . 6, No. 6
A. Hi l l er bor g, M. Mod4er, P-E. Petersson
Importance of cracks and crack growth
Crack f or mat i on and crack growth pl ay an i mpor t ant par t i n
the performance of unr ei nf or ced and r ei nf or ced concr et e. Examples
of t h i s are
crack spaci ng and crack wi dt h i n bending
shear chracks and t h e i r ef f ec t on shear capaci t y
cr acki ng moment of r ei nf or ced and unr ei nf or ced beams
mi crocracks i n compression and compression f a i l u r e .
A r at i onal desi gn i n these cases ought t o be based on r e a l i s -
t i c t heor et i c al models, which take crack f or mat i on and crack propa-
gat i on i nt o account. So f ar no such models have been av ai l abl e. Con-
sequent l y t he desi gn methods have had t o be based on empi r i cal re-
search, supported by s i mp l i f i e d models.
Recent advances wi t h i n f r act ur e mechanics and f i n i t e element
methods (FEM) have now gi ven us a p o s s i b i l i t y of anal ysi ng crack
growt h. Fr act ur e mechanics gi ves the fundamental r ul es f or crack
propagat i on and FEM makes i t possi bl e t o appl y these r ul es t o comp-
l i c at ed cases.
The cases we wi sh t o anal yse are r at her compl i cat ed, as t hey
i nvol ve di ver se phenomena, such as
f or mat i on and propagat i on of cracks
two or more par al l el cracks
bent shear cracks
shri nkage s t r ai ns
i nt er ac t i on between concret e and r ei nf or cement
i n t e r a c t i o n between cement mat r i x and aggregat e.
I t i s t her ef or e necessary t o use FEM and al so t o t r y and f i nd
a method which s i mp l i f i e s the anal ysi s as much as possi bl e.
Proposed approach
There are many methods t o choose from f r act ur e mechanics, e. g.
the st r ess i n t e n s i t y f ac t or approach
the energy balance approach
the " s t r i p - y i e l d " model accordi ng t o Dugdale
the cohesi ve f or ce model accordi ng t o Bar enbl at t .
The d i f f e r e n t methcds are known t o gi ve coherent r es ul t s .
In the st r ess i n t e n s i t y f ac t or approach t he st r esses near the
crack t i p are st udi ed. These st r esses t h e o r e t i c a l l y a ag_j~roach i n f i n i t y
at the crack t i p accordi ng t o t he expr essi on o = K/V2~r, where r i s
the di st ance from the crack t i p and K i s a c o e f f i c i e n t , the st r ess i n-
t e n s i t y f ac t or , depending on the l oad, t he crack di mensi ons, et c. When
K reaches a c r i t i c a l val ue K c, t he crack propagates.
The st r ess i n t e n s i t y f ac t or approach has been used a gr eat deal
i n FEM anal ysi s. The d i r e c t method r equi r es a FEM mesh wi t h ver y small
elements cl ose t o the crack t i p , whi ch l i mi t s i t s a p p l i c a b i l i t y t o
Vol . 6, No. 6 775
FRACTURE MECHANICS, ANALYSIS, CONCRETE
compl i cat ed problems. I n d i r e c t and speci al methods permi t t he use
of gr eat er el ements. The methods cannot expl ai n t he f or mat i on of
cracks, onl y the pr opagat i on.
In t he energy balance approach i t i s assumed t hat a cer t ai n
amount of energy G c i s absorbed by the f or mat i on of a uni t area of
crack sur f ace. When a crack propagates a cer t ai n amount of st ored
energy i s rel eased. The crack propagates when the rel eased energy
i s equal t o or gr eat er than the absorbed energy. FEM has been used
t o determi ne the energy rel ease r at e i n the energy balance approach,
see e. g. / 5 / . Thi s enables the use of a FEM mesh wi t h r at her l ar ge
el ements. The f or mat i on of cracks cannot be expl ai ned.
In the Dugdale model i t i s assumed t hat t here i s a p l a s t i c
zone near the crack t i p accordi ng t o Fi g. I . Wi t hi n the p l a s t i c
zone a st r ess equal t o t he y i e l d st r engt h ~y act s across t he crack.
The Bar enbl at t model i s s i mi l ar t o the Dugdale model, but t he st r ess
i s assumed t o vary wi t h the def or mat i on. I t does not seem t o have
been used i n f i n i t e element anal ysi s.
The basi c i dea of the model we propose i s demonstrated i n Fi g.
2. I t i s i n some respect s s i mi l a r t o t he Bar enbl at t model. The model
i s descri bed onl y f or mode I (t he opening mode), but i t may al so be
appl i ed t o modes I I and I I I .
e l a s t i c c r o c k
|
r e a l c r a c k ~ p i a s t i c z o n e ]
m
crct ck l e n g t h
i L
, I
Fi g. 1 The Dugdale model f or
crack t i p p l a s t i c i t y
Fi g. 2 Proposed model
The crack i s assumed t o propagate when the st r ess at the crack
t i p reaches t he t e n s i l e st r engt h f t " When t he crack opens the st r ess
i s not assumed t o f a l l t o zero at once, but t o decrease wi t h i ncr eas-
i ng crack wi dt h w, f or example accordi ng t o Fi g. 3. At t he crack
wi dt h w I t he st r ess has f al l en t o zero. For t hat par t of t he crack
where W<Wl, t he "cr ack" i n r e a l i t y corresponds t o a mi crocraced
zone wi t h some remai ni ng l i gament s f or st r ess t r ans f er . As t her e i s
a st r ess t o be overcome i n opening t he cr ack, energy i s absorbed.
The amount of energy absorbed per uni t crack area i n wi deni ng t he
crack from zero t o or beyond w I i s
0
and cor r esponds t o t he area between t he curve and the coor di nat e
a xi s ' in Fig. 3.
776 Vol , 6, No. 6
A. Hi l l er bor g, M. Modeer, P-E. Petersson
Cr
f t
I
0 w! W
Fi g. 3 Assumed v ar i at i on of
st r ess o wi t h crack
wi dt h w, general case
We now choose the curve i n Fi g. 3 so t hat
7 1 d w = G ( I )
C
0
which means t hat the energy absorbed per newformed uni t crack area i s
t he same as i n the energy balance approach. The model of Fi g. 2 may
thus be looked upon as a way of expr essi ng t he energy balance approach.
At the same ti me the assumption of Fi g. 2 may be looked upon as
a r e a l i t y . St resses may be present i n a mi crocracked zone as long as
t he correspondi ng di spl acement i s smal l . Thi s has been c l ear l y demon-
st r at ed i n t ensi on t es t s , usi ng a very r i g i d t es t i ng equi pment, e . g . ,
by Evans and Marathe / 4 / ; cf . Fi g. 5.
By the appl i cat i on of the proposed model the curve ~(w) may be
chosen i n d i f f e r e n t ways, e. g. accordi ng t o Fi gs. 4a, b or c, which
al l show si mpl e mathematical r el at i ons . For t y pi c al y i e l d i n g mat er i -
al s, l i k e mi l d s t eel , Fi g. 4a seems t o be the best choi ce. I t cor r e-
sponds ex ac t l y t o the Dugdale model wi t h f t = ~y. and ~I = COD at i n i -
t i a t i o n of crack growt h. The d i s c o n t i n u i t y may gl ve r l se t o some prob-
lems by the appl i c at i on i n FEM, but t hey are not ser i ous.
w I w
f l
L
W W I W
b) C)
Fi g. 4 Examples of pos-
s i bl e assumptions
of v a r i a t i o n of
st r ess ~ wi t h crack
wi dt h w i n pr act i cal
appl i cat i ons
For concret e i t seems t hat Fi g. 4c i s the best choi ce as i t
corresponds reasonabl y wel l wi t h t ensi on t es t r esul t s / 4 / , cf . Fi g.
5. I t i s al so si mpl e, cont i nuous and sui t abl e f or FEM anal ysi s. For
our purpose we have t her ef or e chosen Fi g. 4c.
We then obt ai n
~dw = f t wl / 2
0
or from ( I ) ,
w I = 2Gc/f t
For or di nar y concret e Gc/ f t seems t o be of the order 0.005 -
( 2 )
Vol . 6, No. 6 777
FP~ACTURE MECHANICS, ANALYSIS, CONCRETE
O.Ol mm, cf . / I / , and thus w I of the or der 0.01 - 0.02 mm. In t he
appl i c at i on we f u r t h e r assume t hat the concret e i s l i n e a r - e l a s t i c
unt i l f t i s reached.
Fi g. 5 shows a comparison between our assumptions wi t h Gc/ f t
= 0.01 mm, ~ / f t = I 0 000 and a t ensi on t es t from / 4/ wi t h a gage
l engt h of 1 (25 mm). Thi s corresponds t o a t heor et i c al average
el ongat i on over thergage l engt h when ~ reaches O, i . e . w = Wl, of
2. 0. 01/ 25 = 800-I 0 - . The assumptions seem t o agree reasonabl y wi t h
t he t es t r es ul t . A l ower val ue of E/ f t would have improved t he agree-
ment, but from t he poi nt of vi ew of t he energy balance approach t he
E-val ue correspondi ng t o unl oadi ng i s most i mpor t ant and t h i s j u s t i -
f i es the choi ce E/ f t = I 0 000.
Fi g. 5 A t es t r es ul t
from a t e n s i l e
t es t accordi ng
t o Evans & Mara-
the / 4 / , compared
t o a correspondi ng
assumed r e l a t i o n
by t he anal ysi s
ft
o r , , , ~ .
0 200 ZOO 600 BOO Strai n x 10 6
(1" gage l engt h)
A speci al f eat ur e of t he proposed method i s t hat i t expl ai ns
not onl y t he growth of e x i s t i n g cr acks, but al so the f or mat i on of new
cracks, as i t i s assumed t hat cracks s t a r t f ormi ng when the t e n s i l e
st r ess reaches f t , i . e . , t h e same c r i t e r i o n i s used f or f or mat i on and
propagat i on of cracks.
The anal ysi s can be performed wi t h a r at her coarse mesh,
as i n the example bel ow, because t her e are no st r ess s i n g u l a r i t i e s
and t he amount of absorbed energy i s not very s ens i t i v e t o t he mesh
si ze. The p o s s i b i l i t y of usi ng a coarse mesh means t hat r at her comp-
l i c at ed problems can al so be t r eat ed wi t hout usi ng t oo many el ements.
Appl i cat i on t o an unr ei nf or ced beam i n bending
In order t o st udy the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of the method t he f ol l ow-
i ng case has been anal ysed / 2 / .
An unr ei nf or ced concret e beam wi t h a const ant r ect angul ar cr oss-
sect i on i s loaded by a pure bending moment M accordi ng t o Fi g. 6. When
t he bending moment reaches a val ue M o t he t e n s i l e st r ess i n t he bottom
f i b r e reaches f t - As we assume t hat t he concret e cannot t ake hi gher
t e n s i l e st r esses than f t , cracks wi l l form and s t a r t opening when M i s
i ncreased above M o. We wi l l now st udy how these cracks grow when t he
bending moment i ncr eases. In order t o s i mp l i f y t he cal cul at i ons we
assume t hat onl y one crack opens, and t hat t hi s happens at t he sect i on
of symmetry.
The f i n i t e element mesh used f or the c al c ul at i on i s shown i n
Fi g. 6. The bending moment M i s appl i ed as a coupl e of f or ces at the
778 Vol . 6, No. 6
A. Hi l l e r b o r g , M. Mod#er, P-E. Pet ersson
C
M
~
4 J
4 2
41
4 0
J 9
3'8
J7
.16
3 5
3 3
3 2
3 t
Fi g. 6 Bent r ect angu-
l a r beam and
a cor r espondi ng
FEM r epr esent a-
t i o n
l e f t end of t he beam. The cr ack i s assumed t o open at t he sect i on t o
t he r i g h t , whi ch i s t he sect i on of symmetry.
Mois t he moment whi ch gi ves ~31 = f t , where ~31 i s t he st r ess
at poi nt 31. Mo woul d be t he f a i l u r e moment i f t he mat er i al were el as -
t i c and p e r f e c t l y b r i t t l e . When M i s r ai sed above M o t he cr ack s t a r t s
openi ng at poi nt 31. At t hat poi nt we i nt r oduc e a f or ce cor r espondi ng
t o t he r e l a t i o n between st r ess ~ and cr ack wi dt h w accor di ng t o Fi g.
4c. Wi th t h i s new f i n i t e el ement system we can c a l c u l a t e t he st r ess
at poi nt 32 and we can det er mi ne t hat val ue M = M I , whi ch gi ves a
st r ess 032 : f t " We can now i nt r oduc e anot her f or ce at poi nt 32 and
c a l c u l a t e a moment M = M 2, g i v i n g 033 = f t et c. By pr oceedi ng i n t he
same way we get a r e l a t i o n between cr ack dept h and appl i ed moment
accor di ng t o Fi g. 7.
1,4
N I t
Mo
0
i
i
c r a c k
d e p t h
n o d e
p o i n t
Fi g. 7 Cal cul at ed bendi ng moment
M ver sus crack dept h
When t he cr ack grows t he cor r espondi ng bendi ng moment reaches a
maximum val ue Mma x whereupon i t s t a r t s decr easi ng. As t he maximum val ue
i s reached t he s t r u c t u r e becomes unst abl e i f M i s kept c ons t ant , and
i t f a i l s suddenl y as t he cr ack pr opagat es.
The r e l a t i o n Mmax/M o i s t he same as t he r e l a t i o n between ben-
di ng st r engt h and tensTTe s t r e n g t h , as M o i s t he moment whi ch makes
t he maximum bendi ng st r ess i n t he uncracked sect i on equal t o t he t en-
s i l e s t r engt h.
Vol . 6, No. 6 779
FRACTURE MECHANICS, ANALYSIS, CONCRETE
I t can be shown t hat t he behavi our of the beam depends on t he
parameter H/ I , where H i s t he beam depth and 1 i s a c r i t i c a l l engt h,
def i ned by c c
: E G / f ~ ( 3 )
I c
As the r e a l t i o n
EG c = K 2
C
holds f or pl ai n st r ess and appr oxi mat el y f or pl ai n s t r a i n , we may al so
wr i t e 2
I c = ( Kc / f t ) (4)
Fi g. 8 shows the r esul t s of the above anal ysi s as wel l as of an
anal ysi s where shri nkage s t r ai ns ~s accordi ng t o Fi g. 9 have been
taken i nt o account.
Fi g. 8 Theor et i cal v ar i a-
t i on of r a t i o be-
tween bending and
t e n s i l e st r engt h
wi t h beam depth H
and I c = ( Kc / f t ) ~ =
: EGc/f ~
Fi g. 9
2 , 0 -
1 . 5
1.0
0 . 5
Assumed d i s t r i -
but i on of shr i nk-
o
age s t r ai ns o
B e n d i n ~ st r engt h
Tensi l e st r engt h
!
J
. ~ o O t
~,E ~
T .a~ ~ . . . . ~
c ~ j
,, . . . . . <
r
L
2 3 4 H/ I c
I t must be remembered t hat the r es ul t s i n Fi g. 8 correspond
t o a si mpl e FEM model where onl y one crack i s assumed t o open, i n-
dependent of t he st r esses i n the ot her par t s of t he beam. A more
r e a l i s t i c model wi t h cracks opening i n al l pl aces where f t i s ex-
ceeded wi l l gi ve somewhat d i f f e r e n t r es ul t s wi t h hi gher val ues of
Mmax/M o, es pec i al l y where shri nkage s t r ai ns are pr esent .
780 Vol . 6, No. 6
A. Hi l l e r b o r g , M. Mod~er, P-E. Pet er sson
Rel ati ve bending
s t r e n q t h
1,0 - e - : = ~ ,
0 . 5 - -
0
0 100 200 300
R e a g 4 t , Wi H I s . 1931 7 6 8 Vat ~@s
I K t L l e r m o m n , 1932 2/, V a { u e s
= Wh r i g h t . C~ r wo o d IO~Z 111 V~ L u e $
O N i e { s e n 195,~ 71 Vat t JeS
L i n d n e r . S p r a ~ u e l g $ 5 120 V a L u e J
WaLk er ~ [ O l m 1957 ~ VQI ~es
Me y e r 1963 ~8 V a L u e s
500 H mm
Fi g. I 0 Test r e s u l t s of
bendi ng s t r engt h
ver sus beam dept h,
summarized by Mey-
er / 3 / , compared
t o t h e o r e t i c a l cur -
ve f or 1 = I 00 nTn
C
Rel at i ve bending
stren( th
1,5
, . o
o ,
, 1
!
o i
loo
o wOt
o d r i e d O.O0"J'~ * H 2 P, ~urs
~' dr ded O, Ot S. H 2 h ~ r s
[ g s % c o n f i d e n c e k t t 4 r ~ l
I
I
i i
b L
i "
!
2OO
I I -
300 H mm
Fi g. I I Test r e s u l t s of
bendi ng s t r engt h
ver sus beam depth
f or one q u a l i t y
of concr et e, t est ed
wet and dr i ed i n
45% RH, compared t o
t h e o r e t i c a l curves
f or 1 = I 00 mm
C
Vol. 6, No. 6 781
FRACTURE MECHANICS, ANALYSIS, CONCRETE
Fig. I0 shows a comparison between t heoret i cal values according
to Fig. 8 and t est resul ts summarized by Mayer / 3/ . The t heoret i cal
curve is shown f or I c = EGc/f ~ : I0 000"0.01 = I00 mm, corresponding
to the values used in Fig. 5. I t has been assumed t hat there i s no
shrinkage.
Fig. 11 shows a comparison between t heoret i cal values according
to Fig. 8 and our own t est resul t s. Regarding the i nfl uence of shri nk-
age i t must be noticed that the t est specimen had a square cross-sec-
t i on, dryi ng in al l di r ect i ons, whereas the t heoret i cal curve i s val i d
for a specimen drying only upwards and downwards, and t hat creep was
not taken i nt o account in the cal cul at i ons.
In spi t e of i t s si mpl i f i cat i on, the model seems to be able to
expl ai n the t est resul t s.
Conclusion
The proposed method of combining f ract ure mechanics and f i ni t e
element anal ysi s seems to yi el d r eal i st i c resul ts regarding crack f or -
mation and propagation as well as regarding f ai l ur e even i f a coarse
element mesh i s used. This opens up the possi bi l i t y of studying comp-
l i cat ed problems wi th a l i mi t ed amount of computer work.
References
/ I / Welch, G B and Haisman, B "Fracture toughness measurements
of concrete," Uni versi t y of New South Wales, Sydney, Aust r al i a,
Uni ci v. Report No R 42, January 1969.
/ 2/ Petersson, P-E and Mod~er, M "Model based on f ract ure mechanics
f or the cal cul at i on of crack propagation in concrete," (i n Swe-
dish wi th English summary), Di vi si on of Bui l di ng Technology, Lund
I nst i t ut e of Technology, Sweden, Report No 70, 1976.
/ 3/ Mayer, H "Die Berechnung von Durchbiegung von Stahlbetongbau-
t ei l en, " Deutscher Ausschuss fur Stahlbetong, H 194, W Ernst
& Sohn, Berl i n, 1967.
/ 4/ Evans, P H and Marathe, M S "Microcracking and st r ess- st r ai n
curves f or concrete i n t ensi on, " Materi al s and Structures (RILEM),
No I , pp 61 - 64, 1968.
151 Salah EI-Di n, A S and EI-Adawy Nassef, M M "A modified approach
f or esti mati ng the cracking moment of rei nforced concrete beams,"
ACl Journal No 7, Jul y 1975, pp 356 - 360.