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# Efficient modelling of pile foundations

## in the Finite Element Method

Ronald B.J. Brinkgreve
Plaxis / Delft University of Technology
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Outline

Introduction

## Applications of embedded piles

Ongoing research

Conclusions

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Introduction
Finite Element Method (FEM) in geotechnical engineering:

## Numerical solution of boundary value problems:

- Deformation (stress, strain) analysis (SLS) and ULS design
- Groundwater flow analysis
- (Geo)thermal analysis
- Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical coupling

## Realistic simulation of soil, structure, soil-structure interaction and

construction process
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Introduction
Dancing Towers, Dubai

Introduction
FEM modelling piles:

2D:
- Axisymmetry: Axially loaded single pile
- Plane strain: Pile (beam) becomes a wall
- New: Embedded pile row in 2D

## Most practical applications involving pile foundations require a 3D model !

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Introduction
Modelling options of piles in 3D FEM:

Solid elements:
 Expensive
 Poor mesh quality
 No structural forces

Beam elements:
 No pile volume
 No surface area
 Unrealistic pile-soil interaction
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Introduction

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## Embedded pile (3D)

Efficient 3D modelling feature: Embedded pile elements
Pile as beam elements
Pile-soil interaction
(shaft friction, end bearing)
Arbitrary crossing of soil elements

pile

t skin

Ffoot

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soil

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## Embedded pile (3D)

kt
kn
kt

pile

kn

ks

kt
t skin

kn
Ffoot

soil

ks

ks

Skin stiffness:
tmax
ks : axial stiffness
Kn ,kt : lateral stiffness

k
1

Skin tractions:
ts = qs/length = ks (uspile-ussoil) tmax
tn = qn/length = kn (unpile-unsoil)
tt = qt/length = kt (utpile-utsoil)

urel

s
Base stiffness:
kb : base/foot stiffness

t
kb
(Engin et al, 2007)

Base/Foot force:
Fb = kb (ubpile - ubsoil) Fmax

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Embedded pile:

Beam nodes:
Interface nodes:

## Real nodes; 6 d.o.f.s per node (ux uy uz rx ry rz)

Virtual nodes, 3 d.o.f.s per node (ux uy uz),
expressed in volume element shape functions

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## Embedded pile (3D)

Bearing capacity =
(Ttop+Tbot)Lpile + Fmax
Ttop

Lpile

Tbot

Fmax
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## Embedded pile Deformation behaviour

Pile bearing capacity is input and not result of FEM calculation
F

Global

Local

tmax

k
1

urel

## Global pile response

from soil modelling
and pile-soil interaction

F
Fmax
k
1

u
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urel

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Embedded pile
Elastic region

Around shaft
Around foot

Soil stress points inside elastic region are forced to remain elastic
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## Embedded pile Output

Displacements, bending moments, axial forces, shaft friction, foot force

Ts

C B
A

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## Embedded pile Validation by TUGraz

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(Tschuchnigg, 2009)

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2D model: 72 mm

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(Dao, 2011)

## Lateral movement of pile in horizontal soil slice:

 Embedded pile almost behaves as volume pile due to elastic region

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(Dao, 2011)

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## Embedded pile (3D)

Conclusions embedded pile:

## Efficient 3D modelling of pile foundations (bored piles, piled rafts)

Realistic pile-soil interaction (shaft friction, end bearing, group effects)
Pile capacity is Input (not a result)
Since 2005 many applications in practice
(pile foundations, ground anchors)

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## Embedded pile row (2D)

How to model a row of piles (out-of-plane) in 2D ?

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## Embedded pile row (2D)

Conventional 2D options:

Beam (plate):
 Continuous out-of-plane
 Prevents soil flow between piles

## Two-node spring (N2N anchor):

 No bending stiffness
 No pile-soil interaction

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Ls

## Embedded pile row:

 Continuous soil mesh
 Pile as a superimposed beam element
(axial stiffness, bending stiffness)
 Pile and soil can move independently
 Pile-soil interaction (interface)
(shaft friction, end bearing)
 Out-of-plane spacing (Ls)
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(Sluis, 2012)
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## Embedded pile row (2D)

Calibration of interface stiffness from 3D calculations

(Sluis, 2012)
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## Embedded pile row (2D)

Calibration of interface stiffness from 3D calculations

(out-of-plane)

(Sluis, 2012)
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N

10m

150 kN/m

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## Embedded pile row (2D)

Case study: Bridge abudment
Piled abutment

Bridge deck

freeboard

Embankment

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## Embedded pile row (2D)

Case study: Bridge abudment
Comparison 2D vs. 3D

2D
Q 2d emb [kN]

10

M 2d emb [kNm]
N 2d emb [kN]

N 3D [kN]

M_2 3D [kNm]
-600

detail
3D

Q_13 3D [kN]
-400
-200

0
0

200

400

-5

-10

-15

-20

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## Embedded pile row (2D)

Conclusions embedded pile row:

## Efficient 2D modelling of pile rows (out-of-plane)

Pile and soil can move independently
Realistic pile-soil interaction (shaft friction, end bearing)
Calibration of interface stiffness, based on out-of-plane spacing (Ls)
Successful validation
Since 2012 several applications in practice (piles and ground anchors)

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Quay wall

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## Applications of embedded piles

Foundation of high-rise building in Frankfurt (Japan Centre)

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## Applications of embedded piles

Foundation of high-rise building in Singapore

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## Applications of embedded piles

Railway station in Vienna

~ 500m

~500 m

~ 400m

~400 m

47464
elements
(Courtesy of Prof. H.F. Schweiger)
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## Applications of embedded piles

Railway station in Vienna
Model without soil
(bottom view)

615 Piles
 Different pile lengths
 Different pile inclinations
(Rest is modelled as blocks)
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## Applications of embedded piles

Railway station in Vienna

axial force

shaft friction
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## Applications of embedded piles

Excavation in Monaco (Odeon Towers)

## (i.c.w. Terrasol, France;

Plaxis Bulletin 29, 2011)

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Ongoing research
Research on installation effects of driven piles at TUDelft:
Idea: Impose modified stress and density on wished-in-place pile

(Engin, 2013)

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Ongoing research
Research on large deformation analysis (MPM) due to pile installation

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Conclusions

## Efficient modelling of piles in FEM:

- Embedded pile row (2D)
- Embedded pile (3D)
Realistic pile-soil interaction (shaft friction, end bearing)
Pile capacity is Input (not a result)
Meanwhile many applications in practice (piles and ground anchors)
Ongoing research:
- Installation effects
- Pile penetration using MPM

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References
1. Engin H.K., Septanika E.G. and Brinkgreve R.B.J. (2007). Improved embedded beam elements for the
modelling of piles. In: G.N. Pande & S. Pietruszczak (eds.), Int. Symp. on Numerical Models in Geomechanics
NUMOG X, 475-480. London: Taylor & Francis group.
2. Engin H.K., Septanika E.G., Brinkgreve R.B.J., Bonnier P.G. (2008). Modeling piled foundation by means of
embedded piles. 2nd International Workshop on Geotechnics of Soft Soils - Focus on Ground Improvement. 3-5
September 2008, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.
3. Septanika E.G., Brinkgreve R.B.J., Engin H.K. (2008). Estimation of pile group behavior using embedded piles,
the 12th International Conference of International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in
Geomechanics (IACMAG), 1-6 October, 2008, Goa, India.
4. Tschuchnigg F. (2009). Embedded piles 1. Report. CGG_IR021_2009. Technische Universitt Graz.
5. Tschuchnigg F. (2009). Embedded piles 2. Report. Improvements. Technische Universitt Graz.
6. Dao T.P.T. (2011). Validation of PLAXIS embedded piles for lateral loading. MSc thesis. Delft University of
Technology.
7. Brinkgreve R.B.J., Engin E., Dao T.P.T. (2012). Possibilities and limitations of embedded pile elements for lateral
8. Sluis J. (2012). Validation of embedded pile row in PLAXIS 2D. MSc thesis. Delft University of Technology.
9. Engin H.K. (2013). Modelling pile installation effects A numerical approach. PhD thesis. Delft University of
Technology.
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## Efficient modelling of pile foundations

in the finite element method
Ronald B.J. Brinkgreve
DFIMEC 2014

21

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