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Dowel Action in High Performance Lightweight Aggregate Concrete

Frank Dehn1, Thomas He2

SUMMARY Previous investigations showed that a shear force applied to a longitudinally reinforced beam can be divided up in several components. In former times the influence of the reinforcement on the total shear force was underestimated. But several reports indicate that the reinforcing bars are participating in bearing the shear force applied to beams. The previously conducted experiments analyze this problem only for Normal Aggregate Concrete. To evaluate the magnitude of the force borne by the reinforcement in Lightweight Aggregate Concrete (LWAC), test series with several strengths of Lightweight Concrete were carried out. In the following report various test arrangements, the most important analytical studies to describe the above mentioned fact for normal concrete, the experimental results and the conclusions for LWAC are shown.


If the longitudinal reinforcement of a beam is loaded by a component of a force acting perpendicular to the reinforcement bars this is called dowel action.

1 2

Dipl.-Ing., Institut fr Massivbau und Baustofftechnologie, Universitt Leipzig Dipl.-Ing.(FH), Institut fr Massivbau und Baustofftechnologie, Universitt Leipzig


LACER No. 4, 1999 There are two possible failure modes of the dowel mechanism: (1) yield of the bar and concrete crushing under the dowel (2) concrete splitting lateral or below the reinforcement bars. The underside concrete cover is the main parameter on which the mode of the dowel mechanism depends. The more frequent case is failure mode (2) if considering reinforced beams because of their small concrete cover in comparison with the bar diameter. The comparison of the concrete cover with the net width bct at the side of the bars determine if the splitting cracks open either at the bottom or at the side of a cross section. In beams with usual dimensions the opening of the crack at the side of the reinforcement is the more usual case of failure. Therefore the following test programmes to determine the dowel-splitting load were carried out, that is the force at which the concrete splits.


Dowel tests were carried out and reported by several investigators. All of them developed a test arrangement that makes it possible to isolate the dowel effect from the other components of shear capacity. Because of this they produced separated specimens. Fenwick [6] carried out tests on two separate specimens, with short dowel and long dowel (fig. 1). The short dowel was intended to model the conditions in a beam between cracks and the long one to model the conditions at the end of the beam beyond the last crack.

Fig. 1:

Fenwick short dowel and long dowel [6]


Dowel Action in High Performance Lightweight Aggregate Concrete Such test arrangement has the disadvantage, that the steel is not under tension and cannot exactly model the behaviour of dowels in beams. These tests therefore obtained lower values for the dowel-splitting load as in reality. Lorentsen [5] carried out tests with a divided beam. The vertical division was formed by a 1 mm wide oiled plate, removed after casting. In the compression zone of the beams the concrete was cut out leaving either two 25 mm bars or one 32 mm bar acting over 300 mm length of the compression zone. This scarely modified the load-displacement relation in comparison with the reality because of the fact that the bars in the compression zone are constrained at both ends.

Fig. 2:

Lorentsen [5]

Houde and Mirza [8] developed a test arrangement applying the dowel-splitting load to a halved beam specimen which was fixed in a test rig. Simultaneously the longitudinal reinforcement could be loaded by a tensile stress. This arrangement has the advantage of controlling tensile force when applying dowel load. The real behaviour of dowels in beams can be simulated well. The disadvantage is the expensive test rig, in which the beam has to be tested.

Fig. 3:

Houde and Mirza [8]


LACER No. 4, 1999 Krefeld and Thurston [1] carried out nine tests on divided beams in which the tension zone was casted separately from the compressive zone and was fixed to it only by the main steel. The dowel was tested by pulling the centre section of the beam downwards until the dowel splits. This arrangement has the advantages that it is beam-like in layout, the main steel being in tension throughout the test and that the test has a simple arrangement. The dowel shear force and the tensile steel stress are related to each other by the geometry of the test specimen.

Fig. 4:

Test specimen for the LWAC investigation

Because of the beam-like behaviour of the load-displacement relation and the simple arrangement, Taylor [4] and Baumann/Rsch [2] chose a modification of the Krefeld/Thurston [1] test arrangement. Taylor [4] tested smaller beams with scaled dimensions and aggregates for the concrete mix. For the experiments of the presented research work with Lightweight Concrete the layout of beams of the Baumann/Rsch [2] test series was used (fig. 4). It was 206

Dowel Action in High Performance Lightweight Aggregate Concrete intended to have a comparison of beams made of Normal Aggregate Concrete with some made of LWAC. The test beam has two cross sections. The section B-B of the beam consists only of the compression zone which is more narrow than as the section A-A because of the device for applying shear loads. To prevent shear friction in the defined inclined crack a plastic foil was placed between test beam and separated beam. For the longitudinal reinforcement two 20 mm bars and four 8 mm stirrups where used. The only variable parameter of the test was the compressive strength of the Lightweight Concrete. The centre section was casted with Normal Concrete. For the beams a series with the following concrete strengths were planned: LC 16/18, LC 20/22, LC 40/44, LC 45/50, LC 60/66

At the place of the stirrups (in the middle section) at each side of the beam the dowel displacement was measured to find out whether the separated beam cocked during the test and to determine the load-displacement relation.

3 3.1


Load-displacement relation

Diagram 1 (fig. 5) shows the load-displacement relation of the beams made out of the mentioned several strengths of the LWAC. In the diagram the lower axis describes the load-displacement relation at a displacement of 0 2 mm and the upper the values of the displacement of 0 14 mm. It shows that after the dowel splitting load is reached up to a displacement of 2 mm the load keeps nearly constant. By increasing further the dowel load the mechanism is able to bear higher loads up to displacements of 14 16 mm. This can be explained by the fact that if the dowel splitting load is reached, the horizontal crack spreads out to the support and the dowel load keeps constant. When the crack reaches the stirrup at a distance of 15 mm from the flexural crack the dowel load increases. Further, the lower curves show that specimens with the higher strengths are able to bear higher loads at the same values of displacement. This is connected with the relation of the compressive and tensile strengths of concrete.


LACER No. 4, 1999

0 35 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Vertical displacement [mm] = 0,0 - 14,0 mm



LC 60/66 LC 45/50

Dowel Force H [kN]


LC 40/44 LC 20/22


LC 16/18


Vertical displacement [mm] = 0,0 - 2,0 mm

0 0,0 0,2 0,4 0,6 0,8 1,0 1,2 1,4 1,6 1,8 2,0

Fig. 5:

Load-displacement relation for LWAC beams

4 4.1


Analytical studies of the previous test results to determine the dowel force

Here only the models are treated whose test results are coming from a modification of the Krefeld/Thurston [1] test arrangement. Further the mathematical model of Vintzeleou/Tassios [7] will be considered. 4.1.1 Several equations for the prediction of dowel force Krefeld/Thurston [1] determined the force at which the dowel consisting out of two bars splits as follows:

+ FU =   

E I FN    + FE + GE  D GE I FN

Dowel Action in High Performance Lightweight Aggregate Concrete In contrast to the equations of Taylor [4] or Baumann/Rsch [2] the dowel splitting strength depends on the distance of the flexural crack to the support. The dowel force up to a displacement of 0,17 mm estimated by Taylor [4] is of the form: + =  + in which the dowel splitting force is

+ FU =  +  [ F V + F L ] I FW  After the displacement reached the value 0,17 mm the dowel load drops to 0,5 Hcr and keeps constant.
Baumann/Rsch [2] developed the following formula to determine the dowel force:

+ FU =  G E E FW  I FN  In this equation, only the bar diameter, the net width bct and the concrete strength are variables. Despite of the simplicity of this equation, in comparison with the test results the determined dowel force fits the experimental values reasonably well.
The investigations of Vintzeleou/Tassios [7] are based on a mathematical model in which the bar is considered as a beam on an elastic foundation. By determining the compressive force under the bar, a tensile force lateral the bars has to be equilibrated (4.1.3). So for the dowel splitting force the equation:

+ FU
<  is given in which the variable takes a possible bending moment into account. Because of the fact, that the bending moment results from the flexural crack width (about 1,0 2,0 mm), the moment has low magnitudes. Therefore values of 1,95 1,98 are describing the influence of the bending moment sufficiently exact.
4.1.2 Comparison of the calculated values of dowel force with the test results for Normal Concrete In this investigations several models where analyzed and compared with the experimental results found in the literature. Diagram 2 and 3 (fig. 6, 7) show the calculated dowel forces in comparison with the test results of Baumann/Rsch [2] and Krefeld/Thurston [1]. 209

LACER No. 4, 1999 How expected, the calculated values of Krefeld/Thurston [1] and Baumann/Rsch [2] correspond best with the test results of their own models.



Hcr calculated [kN]


Krefeld, Thurston Taylor


Baumann/Rsch Vintzeleou, Tassios


Hcr calc/Hcr exp = 1,0


0,00 0,00







Hcr experimental [kN]

Fig. 6:

Comparison of the calculated with the experimentally determined values of Baumann/Rsch [2]



Krefeld, Thurston

Hcr calculated [kN]


Taylor Baumann/Rsch


Vintzeleou, Tassios Hcr calc/Hcr exp = 1,0


0,00 0,00






Hcr experimental [kN]

Fig. 7:

Comparison of the calculated with the experimentallly determined values of Krefeld/Thurstons test series [1]


Dowel Action in High Performance Lightweight Aggregate Concrete Although the dowel forces calculated by Baumann/Rsch [2] in the Krefeld/Thurston [1] test series are unsafe it was shown, that Baumanns formula fits the real values of dowel splitting force reasonably well. The Krefeld/Thurston model [1] describes the real behaviour of the dowel force also well with the difference, that his equation has not such a simple form like those of Baumann/Rsch [2]. In diagram 2 (fig. 6) and in comparison with other models, it was shown that Taylors [4] investigations are too empirical. The term 9,1 in his equation (4.1.1) is too high in comparison with the remaining term, which describes the influence of the net width bct and the concrete tensile strength fct. Despite of the fact, that Vintzeleou/Tassios [7] did not carry out tests to support their theoretical investigations, their model fits well the test results of several series. It is astonishing that the models of Vintzeleou/Tassios [7] and Baumann/Rsch [2] have the same parameters. That is why the model of Vintzeleou/Tassios [7] was chosen for the consideration of dowels in Lightweight Aggregate Concrete. 4.1.3 Mathematical model for dowel action in Lightweight Concrete By considering the plane which goes through the center of gravity of the reinforcing bars the dowel load causes compressive stresses under the bar and tensile stresses lateral the reinforcement (fig. 8).

Fig. 8:

Distribution of compressive and tensile stresses

To determine the dowel splitting load, it is necessary to find out the magnitude of compressive forces under the bars up to the point where the stresses along the bar 211

LACER No. 4, 1999 are zero. The bars can be considered as beams on an elastic foundation. The distribution of stresses along the bar can be described as a function [9]. If the concrete would not be able to bear tensile stresses, the bars and the cover below would separate and the beam splits. From the distribution of tensile stresses along the bar up to the point where the compressive stresses are zero (fig. 8, left) the resulting tensile force has to be determined. In contrast to the model of Vintzeleou/Tassios [7] which compares the concrete tensile strength fct with the tensile stresses from the loaded reinforcement to estimate the dowel force, it can be determined more exactly by attaching the fracture mechanic behaviour of concrete under tensile stresses [10]. The further investigations will analyze how far these assumptions are corresponding with the real behaviour of perpendicular loaded reinforcements in beams. 4.2 H Hcr cs ci cb b bct db fct fck a Notation dowel force across one flexural crack dowel force across one flexural crack, at which the dowel splits side cover to bars in dowel test specimen distance between bars in dowel test specimen bottom cover to bars in dowel test specimen width of concrete cross section net width of concrete cross section [bct = b (cs + ci)] bar diameter concrete tensile strength concrete compressive strength (150 x 300 mm cylinder) shear span shear displacement across flexural crack percentage of reinforcement



Krefeld/Thurston: Contribution of longitudinal steel to shear resistance of reinforced concrete beams, ACI-Journal, Vol. 63, 1966, pp.325-344 Baumann/Rsch: Versuche zum Studium der Verdbelungswirkung der Biegezugbewehrung eines Stahlbetonbalkens DAfStb, Heft 210, 1970



Dowel Action in High Performance Lightweight Aggregate Concrete [3] Soroushian, Obaseki, Rojas, Sim: Analysis of dowel bars acting against concrete cover ACI-Journal, Vol.84, 1987, pp.170-176 Taylor: Investigation of the dowel shear forces carried by the tensile steel in reinforced concrete beams Cement and Concrete Association, Technical Report, No. 431, Nov 1969 Lorentsen: Shear and bond in prestressed concrete beams without shear reinforcement Stockholm, svenska Forskningstitutet fr Cement och Betong, 1964. pp. 195 Fenwick: The shear strength of reinforced concrete beams PhD thesis, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 1966, 172pp Vintzeleou/Tassios: Mathematical models for dowel action under monotonic and cyclic conditions Thesis submitted to the department of civil engineering, National technical university of Athens Houde/Mirza: A finite element Analysis of shear strength of reinforced concrete beams Detroit, American Concrete Institute 1974 ACI Special Publication SP 42-5. Vol. 1. pp. 103-128 Beyer: Die Statik im Stahlbetonbau Springer Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York pp. 141-150 Brameshuber: Bruchmechanische Eigenschaften von jungem Beton, Dissertation Karlsruhe 1988, Schriftenreihe Institut fr Massivbau und Baustofftechnologie Heft 5






[9] [10]


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