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Direct optimal design of partially prestressed concrete for controlled cracking

or fatigue
Assoc. Prof., Dr. Jesus M. Bairan Professor, Dr. Antonio R. Mari
Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya
Department of Construction Eng. Department of Construction Eng.
Jordi Girona, 1-3, Campus Nord, C-1 Jordi Girona, 1-3, Campus Nord, C-1
08034 Barcelona, Spain 08034 Barcelona, Spain
E-mail: jesus.miguel.bairan@upc.edu E-mail: antonio.mari@upc.edu

Ms. Noemi Duarte

Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya
Department of Construction Eng.
Jordi Girona, 1-3, Campus Nord, C-1
08034 Barcelona, Spain
E-mail: noemi.duarte@upc.edu

Partially prestressing can significantly improve the performance of concrete structures, especially
under service conditions and fatigue. However, after cracking the behaviour of this structures is
non linear; thus traditional design methodologies based on linear elasticity and allowable stresses
do not provide the optimal solution. In this paper a simplified method for the design of Partially-
Prestressed-Concrete (PPC) sections is presented which takes advantage of the non-linear
behaviour after cracking and allows constructing the feasible solution domain without iterations,
optimizing the amount of reinforcement needed or, conversely, the sections depth. An
application example is presented and main conclusions are drawn.

Key words: Partially Prestressed Concrete, Performance Based Design, Cracking, Fatigue

Traditionally the design of prestressing force in a concrete element for serviceability conditions
has been on elastic analysis which produces a linearly bounded domain of feasible solutions
known as Magnels diagram. Currently, most codes allow controlled cracking in Partially
Prestressed Concrete (PPC) in non aggressive exposure classes, e.g. EN-1992, since it provides
more economical and sustainable designs; however the well extended Magnel method cannot be
applied in cracked sections. Therefore, the advantages of cracked PPC are not fully exploited or
extended since its design is not direct (Bruggelin, 1985, Murcia, Torroja, 1974, Naaman 1985).
The requirements of EN 1992 for cracking and fatigue need a non-linear analysis at the sectional
level, which implies a trial-and-error process in design. Fictitious allowable tensile stresses have
been used in order to keep using the Magnels diagram, which is conservative in most conditions.
This paper faces the design of PPC considering the non-linear behaviour; a direct approach to
construct the domain of feasible solutions is presented as well as proper formulation derived to
account for elastic increments of prestressing force. The method is suitable for hand or spread-
sheet calculations and may provide significant reduction of materials (steel or section size).


Under the presence of an axial force the neutral axis and, therefore, the mechanical properties of a
cracked concrete section vary with the applied load. This non-linear behaviour exists even if the
concrete is considered linear in compression, as it comes from the dependence of the neutral axis
Please cite this paper as follows:
Bairan JM, Mari AR, Duarte N (2012), Direct optimal design of partially prestressed concrete for controlled
cracking and fatigue, Concrete for a sustainable community, fib Symposium, Stockholm (Sweden).

on the applied load. On the other hand, under design conditions of prestressing the value of such
force is not known yet as it is precisely one of the design variables. From equilibrium analysis of
a crack PPC section (Fig. 1) the internal force and total moment of (1) and (2) are derived.

z Cc M

Tp P

Figure 1 Internal equilibrium on a cracked prestressed section


Considering plane section hypothesis, linear - in steel ad compressed concrete it may be shown
(Bairan and Mari, 2011) that the prestressing force and moment can be obtained from (4) and (5).
Where , and are the area, first static moment and inertia of the concrete in zone in
compression with respect to the reference axis. The contribution of the active prestressed area has
been intentionally left as it is not known in design stage.

Coefficient is the inclination of the stress diagram in concrete (stress gradient). Equations (4)
and (5) are parametric equations of the abscissa and ordinate axes of the boundaries of the feasible
solutions domain given in the same coordinates as the Manders diagram. The feasible solutions
diagram may be obtained by varying the neutral axis position and fixing the limit stress in
particular points (Fig. 2). Table 1 summarizes the parameters to obtain four boundary curves that
represent the limit states in bottom and top fibres. s,d is the stress increment in the longitudinal
reinforcement desired in the corresponding limit state. This value may be selected according to
the allowable cracking width in SLS or the stress range from fatigue limit state verification.

stress planes
variation stress planes
Fixed point

Fixed point

Compression in top fibre Compression in bottom fibre

Figure 2 Stress diagram variation to define the boundaries of the solution diagram

Fig. 3 shows an example of the feasible solutions domain obtained with this approach, Manders
linear solution with allowable tensile stress is shown for comparison. Notice that the solution
domain obtained with this approach results to be non-linear for cracked PPC; in the limit, the
method reproduces Manders solution is the criteria of Table 1 are taken so that no cracking takes
place. On the other hand, it produces a wider solution range which allows for a reduction of the
required force as well as more slender elements.

Table 1 Parameters for defining the boundaries of the solution domain

Bound Description Fixed point position (p) Stress in fixed point (*)

Compression in bottom 0.6 ,

Tension in top fibre 1
3 Tension in bottom fibre , or ,

4 Compression in top fibre 0 0.6


(Manders diagram)


M0 M0
1000 P P




0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000

-500 c,adm

-t,adm M2


Figure 3 Non linear feasible solution domain with proposed approach.


The contribution of the active reinforcement (Ap) was neglected in (4) and (5). This is reasonable
in un-bonded prestressing but conservative if it is bonded. By analysing the elastic gains during
loading this may be incorporated in the design of Ap. Table 2 shows design formulae derived for
different prestressing techniques. Where Ac is defined in Eq. (6), P0 is the initial prestressing
stress and c is the fraction of long term prestressing force over the initial force (considering
losses) , which should be estimated in design stage. Typically it ranges 0,8 and 0,7, although
higher values have been observed in PPC (Paez, 2007).

Table 2 Design of necessary active reinforcement for different construction techniques

Unbonded post-tensioned Bonded post-tensioned Pre-tensioned

, ,
, 1 1 4 ,
2 ,


Consider the design of the prestressing for the cross-section shown in Fig. 4 in a XC4 exposure
class. The service bending moments are: cuasipermanent (12.795 kNm), frequent (16.926 kNm)
and characteristic (18.301 kNm). The maximum eccentricity of the tendons is 350 mm and a
minimum ratio of top and bottom passive reinforcement of 2416 has been disposed with a cover

of 50 mm. For design conditions, a maximum stress increment of 160 MPa in passive
reinforcement is desired under frequent conditions and tendons should be in the compression zone
under cuasipermanent situations. The stress increment in steel (active or passive) may be selected
on the basis of compatible crack widths or maximum increments do to fatigue limit state.

Figure 4 Cross section

The designed active reinforcement, considering P0=1390 MPa and c=0.8, is 19.016 mm2 (8T-
160.6), this is 20.1% less than the solution obtained with a fictitious allowable tensile strength
of fct.(2.5 MPa). A non linear analysis of the designed section reveals that the actual increment of
stress in passive reinforcement is 154 MPa which is a conservative error of 3.9%.

A methodology has been proposed to derive optimal design of PPC under cracked conditions.
The method allows the construction of the domain of feasible solutions in a direct manner; in
general this domain has non linear boundaries. The method allows for a reduction of needed
amount of active reinforcement, which comes from both the wider range of the non-linear feasible
solution domain and the included approach to properly account for elastic gain of prestressing
force after cracking. The presented example, and other case studies, suggests that the reduction of
prestress area ranges 10% to 30% compared to the use of fictitious allowable stresses. Moreover,
the method is direct and shows good accuracy. Therefore it may help extend the use of PPC as a
manner to produce more economic and sustainable designs.

The support of the Spanish Ministry of Science by the project BIA-2009-11764 is acknowledged.

Bairan, J.M., Mari, A.R., 2011,
Mtodo para el dimensionamiento de secciones parcialmente pretensadas con fisuracin
controlada o fatiga , V Congreso ACHE, Spanish Assoc. of Structural Concrete, 2011.
Bruggelin, A.S.G., 1985,
Partially prestressed concrete structures A design challenge, PCI Journal, March-Apr,
140-169, 1985.
CEN/ EN 1992-1-1:2004
Eurocode 2: Design of concrete structures Par 1, European Committee for
Standardization, 2004.
Murcia, J., Torroja, J.A., 1974,
Dimensionamiento y comprobacin en seccin fisurada de secciones de hormign
pretensado par los estados lmite de fisuracin, Rev. de Obras Pblicas, Madrid, June,
Naaman, A. 1985,
Partially prestressed concrete: Review and Recommendations, PCI Journal, Nov.-Dec.,
30-67, 1985.
Paez, A. 2011,
Estudio del comportamiento a largo plazo de elementos fisurados parcialmente
pretensados, Minor Thesis, Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya, 2011.