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Southern Cross University

ePublications@SCU
23rd Australasian Conference on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials

2014

Case study of building failure due to buckling of an


RC column
S C. Fan
Nanyang Technological University

Q J. Yu
Nanyang Technological University

Publication details
Fan, SC, Yu, QJ 2014, 'Case study of building failure due to buckling of an RC column', in ST Smith (ed.), 23rd Australasian Conference
on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials (ACMSM23), vol. II, Byron Bay, NSW, 9-12 December, Southern Cross University,
Lismore, NSW, pp. 1243-1248. ISBN: 9780994152008.

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23rd Australasian Conference on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials (ACMSM23)
Byron Bay, Australia, 9-12 December 2014, S.T. Smith (Ed.)

CASE STUDY OF BUILDING FAILURE DUE TO BUCKLING OF AN RC COLUMN

S.C. Fan*
Protective Technology Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University
50 Nanyang Avenue, 639798, Singapore. cfansc@ntu.edu.sg (Corresponding Author)

Q.J. Yu
Protective Technology Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University
50 Nanyang Avenue, 639798, Singapore. qjyu@ntu.edu.sg

ABSTRACT

The objective of this case study is to investigate the structural failure of a 20-year old building due to
local buckling of a reinforced concrete (RC) column at lower floor. Firstly, the stress history of the
concrete and steel rebar in the column is reproduced through analysing the core samples. Secondly, the
buckling event is simulated using the computer code, LS-DYNA. The failure mode was successfully
reproduced. The simulation would show the process of concrete spalling and buckling of steel re-bars.
It agreed well with the failure scene.

KEYWORDS

RC column, buckling, spalling, cohesive element, numerical simulation.

INTRODUCTION

Buckling failure of an RC column may lead to collapse of a building. In this study, one RC column is
selected to investigate the buckling failure. According to the post investigation, the strength of
concrete is much weaker at the central part than the upper/lower parts. At failure, concrete crushing
and spalling were observed. Numerical simulation by LS-DYNA is carried out to reproduce the failure
scene. It demonstrates the brittle failure of concrete and subsequent buckling failure of rebars at the
weaker sections, which was probably derived from poor construction. Techniques to simulate the
spalling phenomenon of concrete are to be discussed. Logical reasons to adopt cohesive element will
be given. Numerical simulation results will demonstrate its capability.

NUMERICAL MODELING

Geometry and Finite-element Mesh

The RC column is 2.4m high and the section is 1.5m by 0.4m. Considering the symmetry, a model for
a quarter geometrical is setup for finite-element analysis. Reinforcement bar is modelled by solid
element. In order to reproduce the spalling phenomenon, cohesive element is introduced in the
modelling. There are 7 kinds of cohesive elements according to the interface strength, namely, weaker
concrete vs. weaker concrete, normal concrete vs. normal concrete, weaker concrete vs. normal
concrete, weaker concrete vs. steel, normal concrete vs. steel, steel vs. steel and steel vs. steel cross
(this is to simulate the tie-up of crossing steel bars). The finite element model is shown in Figure 1.

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1243
¼ symmetric model

(a) Concrete elements

(b) Steel elements (c) Cohesive elements for concrete (d) Other cohesive elements
Figure 1. Finite-element model for the RC column

Simulation of Concrete Spalling

In the finite element (FE) method, the fracture simulation is often achieved through element erosion.
However, the proper erosion criteria are not easy to determine, and the element erosion process will
lead to some losses of material information. An alternative approach is to adopt the nodal-splitting
technique to simulate practical fracture problem [Fan et al (2008, 2009)]. In it, the FE mesh is
shattered into separate element-size pieces. Then the nodes at the same location are bundled together
by a nodal constraint. The bundled nodes will be disintegrated upon a strain-based criterion is met.
Prior to the nodal split, the whole FE assembly behaves as a continuum and the nodal displacements
are continuous. When nodal split occurs, a cluster of free surfaces are formed immediately along the
fracture planes which run along the FE mesh interface. Figure 2 illustrates the situations before and
after the nodal split.

Figure 2. Illustration of Nodal Split

The merit of this approach is simplicity, but the major shortcoming is its inability to simulate non-
homogeneous formation of fractured planes. When a bundled node disintegrates, fractured free
surfaces will be formed in all three directions indiscriminately.

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In the following, another alternative approach is adopted. Cohesive elements are put in place at all FE
interfaces. It aims at overcoming the inadequacies of erosion and nodal-splitting method,

Cohesive Element

In this method, the conventional continuous finite elements are first shattered into disjoined elements
and then re-connected to each other by cohesive elements. These cohesive elements are inserted along
the element interfaces between all the 3D elements in the initial finite-element mesh. Figure 3 defines
a typical cohesive element referred as Element type 19 in LS-DYNA. It is an 8-nodes solid element.
The mid-surface is defined by the mid-points between the nodal pairs 1-5, 2-6, 3-7, and 4-8. Differing
from the normal solid element, the tractions on the mid-surface are defined as functions of the
differences of nodal displacements between nodal pairs. Initial volume of the cohesive element may be
zero, in which case, the density may be defined in terms of the area embraced by nodes 1-2-3-4.

Figure 3. Cohesive element defined in LS-DYNA (LSTC 2007)

A fracture surface is formed along the interface between two elements once the corresponding
cohesive element fails (i.e., when the maximum fracture energy is exceeded or consumed). Obviously,
such cohesive element has a sound physical meaning but it needs a material model to reflect its
response. This material model is normally called a cohesive law (or traction-separation law). The
fundamental idea for the cohesive law was formulated by Barenblatt (1962) originally for defining the
de-cohesion in atomic lattices. More information about the cohesive element implement can be found
in Fan et al (2014).

Material Model

Material models and the accurate parameters are critical for a successful numerical simulation. Apart
from the correctness of material model itself, the involved parameters should be easily obtained and
reliable.

Concrete model

The LS-DYNA code supplies quite a few concrete models. Here, the Karagozian & Case (K&C)
Concrete Model - Release III is adopted. K&C 3Rd is a three-invariant model, uses three shear failure
surfaces, includes damage and strain-rate effects, and has origins based on the Pseudo-TENSOR
Model (Material Type 16). The most significant improvement provided by Release III is a model
parameter generation capability, based solely on the unconfined compression strength of the concrete
(LSTC 2007). The default parameter in K&C Concrete Model has been calibrated using a well
characterized concrete for which uniaxial, biaxial, and triaxial test data in tension and compression
were available, including isotropic and uniaxial strain data. Said that, it refers to the well-characterized
45.6 MPa unconfined compression strength concrete derived from Geotechnical & Structures
Laboratory of the US Army Engineering Research & Development Center (ERDC). In addition, that
original calibration was modified or completed via generally accepted relationships, such as those
giving the tensile strength (or modulus of elasticity) as a function of compressive strength. The

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constitutive model inputs are trivial, yet the complex responses for many different types of material
characterization tests, are adequately reproduced.

In the present study, the concrete strength in the middle part is weaker and thus stochastically
distributed into 9 bins having a mean value of 8 MPa and variance of 4 MPa. The concrete strength in
other normal parts is 30 MPa.

Reinforcement steel model

The reinforcement steel material is assumed isotropic with kinematic hardening plasticity and strain
rate. Strain rate effect is calculated using the Cowper and Symonds model which scales the yield stress
with the factor 1   C 
1P
, where C = 800 and P = 3.6 (Abramovicz, et al (1986); Maraism, et al
(2004)). The strength of steel is 348 MPa.

Cohesive model

The cohesive law or traction law is traction-displacement relation, not the normal stress-strain relation.
The cohesive model yields three force resultants (tractions) rather than the usual six stress components.
The in-plane shear resultant along the local 1-2 edge replaces the x-stress, the orthogonal in-plane
shear resultant replaces the y-stress, and the normal stress resultant replaces the z-stress. In this study,
the model MAT_COHESIVE_TH (available in LSTC 2007) is used and a stochastically fracture
energy model is implement in the cohesive model of concrete vs concrete.

Loading

The RC column is first evenly loaded with a constant gravity load acted at the top of column. Then, a
small disturbing transient load is added. As such, the value of disturbing load necessary to cause
column buckling can be estimated. Figure 4 shows the loading curve adopted in the present study.

20

16
Loading pressure (MPa)

12

Loading pressure
4

0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Time (ms)

Figure 4. Loading pressure curve

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RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

Figure 5 shows the simulation results. In it, Figures 5a and 5b show the overall response of RC column
and the steel bars at t=0.030 second, respectively. Blow-ups in Figures 5c and 5d highlight the
concrete spalling and steel-bar buckling.

(a) The overall response (b) Response of reinforced bar

(c) Spalling (d) Bar buckling


Figure 5. Simulation results of RC column buckling

CONCLUSIONS

In this paper, buckling of an RC column having a weak central portion is investigated numerically.
Cohesive elements are employed to simulate the concrete spalling. Imperfection of concrete is
considered through stochastically fracture energy for cohesive elements. Detailed rebar configuration
is incorporated. Results clearly demonstrate the capability of the present model in simulating the
concrete spalling and rebar buckling.

REFERENCES

Abramowicz W. and Jones N.(1986) “Dynamic Progressive Buckling of Circular and Square Tubes”,
International Journal of Impact Engineering, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 243-270.
Barenblatt, G. I. (1962) “The mathematical theory of equilibrium cracks in brittle fracture”, Adv Appl
Mech. 7, pp. 55-129.
Fan S.C., Yu Q.J. and Lee C.K. (2014) “Simulation of fracture/breakup of Concrete Magazine using
Cohesive Element”, Materialwissenschaft und Werkstofftechnik (Materials Science and
Engineering Technology, Vol. 45, No.5, pp.385-396.
Fan S.C., Yang Y.W. and Yu Q.J., et al.(2008) “Parametric Studies and Development of Numerical
Solver for Earth-Covered/Uncovered Concrete Magazine”. Technical report No.5 for Debris
Modeling Study, Singapore, Oct 2008.

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Fan S.C., Yu Q.J and Xiong C.,et al. (2009) “Case Studies and Design Guidelines for IBD for Earth-
Covered/Uncovered Concrete Magazine”. Technical report No.7 for Debris Modeling Study,
Singapore, Oct 2009.
LSTC (2007) “LSDYNA Keyword User's Manual, Version 971”.
Marais S.T., Tait R.B., Cloete T.J. and Nurick G.N. (2004) “ Material testing at high strain rate using
split Hopkinson pressure bar”, Latin American Journal of Solids and Structures, pp. 319-339,
2004.

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