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Title no. 109-S05

Evaluation of Concrete Cracking due to Restrained

Thermal Loading and Shrinkage
by Ulrich Huler-Combe and Jens Hartig

In general practice, for the crack control of reinforced concrete (RC) ment, and stiffness are also mutually affected. Thus, espe-
members, reinforcement corresponding to the internal forces that cially in the case of stabilized cracking, where no further
lead to single cracks must be provided. This approach is extended cracks can compensate for increasing imposed loads, the
to the cases of restrained thermal loading and concrete shrinkage, single crack approach may be questionable. In the following,
which can be considered as peculiarities of imposed loading. the theoretical basis given in MC905 and EC26 is first summa-
Therefore, an analytical model for the case of direct tension is
derived as an extension of the CEB-FIP Model Code 90 and Euro-
rized and then enhanced for thermal loading and shrinkage.
code 2 approach, which distinguishes between crack development Early theoretical studies on crack widths due to restrained
caused by thermal loading and shrinkage and the state of crack loading are given by Falkner,7 Eibl,8 and Noakowski.9,10 In
development with single cracks and the state of stabilized cracking. these studies, the considerations of kinematic compatibility
Basic examples are examined to illustrate the respective charac- between imposed strains, concrete cracking, and concrete
teristic properties and mutual influence of imposed deformations, and reinforcement strains are introduced. This approach is
crack development, and stiffness. The model is validated based on advanced in this study for the derivation of crack widths
a comparison with the experimental results. and restraint forces within the framework provided in
MC905 and EC2.6
Keywords: analytical model; cracking; imposed loading; reinforced
concrete; shrinkage; thermal loading.
The experimental results are used to validate the model.
Experiments concerning imposed loading are difficult to
INTRODUCTION perform, which may be why only few experimental data
Concrete cracking due to imposed loading originating are available, and the measured results show typically
relatively large scatter. Nevertheless, respective experiments
from temperature changes or shrinkage is a topic relevant
concerning thermal loading were performed by Falkner,7 Sule
for the design of reinforced concrete (RC) structures. In
and van Breugel,11 Vecchio et al.,12 and Yi and Yang.13 The
ACI 318-08,1 cracking is controlled by a limitation of
experimental results by Falkner7 are used for the validation of
the allowed stress of the steel and a minimum reinforce-
the model concerning restrained thermal loading. Regarding
ment requirement. For the cases of shrinkage and temper-
concrete cracking due to shrinkage, experimental results are
ature reinforcement, ACI 318-08,1 Section 7.12, gives
given by Nejadi and Gilbert,14 which are also used for the
special recommendations. Furthermore, it is pointed out in
validation of the model.
ACI 318-08,1 Section 9.2.3, that the effects of shrinkage
and temperature should be taken into account realistically,
but specific guidelines are not provided. This is described
The question of crack widths and crack spacing due to
in more detail in ACI 209R-92.2 Further recommenda-
imposed loading is an enduring problem, especially for large
tions concerning the control of cracking due to shrinkage RC structures where the deformation is restrained. Although
are given in ACI 224R-01,3 Section 3.5, where it is also the particular mechanisms that govern the cracking behavior
pointed out that the minimum reinforcement requirements are relatively well understood in principle, a uniting
of ACI 318-081 may be insufficient to control crack widths representation seems to be missing. In this context, this
within the generally accepted design limits. In ACI 224.2R- study gives a consistent derivation of equations for the load-
92,4 concrete cracking due to direct tension is also treated dependent estimation of crack spacing and crack widths, as
with the special case of cracking due to restrained volume well as restraint forces due to thermal loading and shrinkage.
changes. Additionally, ACI 224.2R-924 provides equations
to determine the maximum crack widths that need to be BASICS OF CRACK WIDTH ESTIMATION
expected, while it is also noted that, in reality, a large vari- General approach
ability in the maximum crack widths may exist. The following considerations are limited to the case of
In addition to the maximum crack width, it is often neces- direct tension to improve comprehensibility, although the
sary to have information about the development of cracking extension to the case of bending is possible in principle.
and the expected crack widths at a certain load level. For Furthermore, the constitutive behavior of reinforcement
this purpose, CEB-FIP Model Code 90 (MC90)5 and and concrete is assumed to be linear-elastic associated
Eurocode 2 (EC2)6 provide a framework of equations, which
is also the basis for the following derivations. Furthermore,
MC905 and EC26 provide minimum reinforcement require- ACI Structural Journal, V. 109, No. 1, January-February 2012.
ments related to the development of single cracks. In the case MS No. S-2009-352.R3 received September 27, 2010, and reviewed under Institute
publication policies. Copyright 2012, American Concrete Institute. All rights
of crack development under imposed loading, the stiffness reserved, including the making of copies unless permission is obtained from the
and, as a consequence, the internal forces, decrease. Because copyright proprietors. Pertinent discussion including authors closure, if any, will be
published in the November-December 2012 ACI Structural Journal if the discussion
of these smaller internal forces, deformations, crack develop- is received by July 1, 2012.

ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012 41

Ulrich Huler-Combe is a Full Professor at the Institute of Concrete Structures in the x-direction, es and ec are variables possessing different
Department of Civil Engineering at Technische Universitt Dresden, Dresden, Germany. courses. Hence, at a given coordinate x, a relative
He received his diploma from Universitt Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany, and his displacement exists between the reinforcement and matrix,
doctoral degree from Universitt Karlsruhe (TH), Karlsruhe, Germany. His research
interests include the numerical modeling of plain and reinforced concrete structures.
which is called slip s. The distance between the crack and the
position where s = 0 is equal to lt. Furthermore, it is assumed
Jens Hartig is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute of Concrete Structures that the load transfer from the reinforcement to concrete
in the Department of Civil Engineering at Technische Universitt Dresden, where he occurs symmetrically to the crack.
also received his diploma. His research interests include the numerical modeling of the
tensile behavior of reinforced concrete structures. Instead of the variable strains, mean strains esm and ecm for the
reinforcement and concrete are used, which are derived with

with the limited tensile strength of the concrete. The 1 lt 1 lt

strains due to temperature changes eT and shrinkage ecs e sm = e s ( x )dx, e cm = e c ( x )dx (3)
lt 0 lt 0
are both treated as occurrences of the imposed strain
eE. In this regard, it is insignificant whether temperature
changes result from external heating (for example, due Thus, the crack width can be calculated with
to insolation) or internal heating (for example, due to the
hydration processes in concrete). Nevertheless, the applied w = 2lt ( e sm e cm ) (4)
concrete material parameters have to be appropriate to the
concrete age at loading. The measurable strain is given in the The concrete and reinforcement possess stresses sc(x)
one-dimensional case as and ss(x) corresponding to the strains es(x) and ec(x). In a
crack, the concrete stress is scr = 0 and the reinforcement
s (1) stress has its maximum value ssr. Starting at the crack, the
e= + eE
E reinforcement stress ss(x) decreases and has its minimum
value at x = lt. Therefore, the difference value Dss = ssr
where s is the stress; and E is the Youngs modulus of ss(lt) can be established and the mean reinforcement stress
the respective material. Equation (1) is the essential basis along lt is given with
for the following derivations. The extension compared to
MC905 and EC26 is the explicit consideration of imposed s sm = s sr bt Ds s (5)
strains eE in the following derivations.
An RC bar in direct tension is considered where the where bt is an empirical factor describing the shape of the
longitudinal direction, which is equal to the loading stress distribution in the steel along x. MC905 and EC26
direction, is denoted with x. Furthermore, the bar possesses a provide different values for bt. Whereas EC26 only distin-
crack at a certain cross section. Regarding this cross section, guishes between short- and long-term loading, MC905
tension is only applied to the steel, whereas the concrete is differentiates between single crack formation and stabi-
free of stresses. This gives a potential rise to bond failure lized cracking in these cases. For simplicity, the EC26
between the concrete and reinforcement, which is not taken approach is used in the following. From the assumption
into account. Thus, corresponding to the recommendations that imposed loading is a long-term loading, a constant
in MC905 and EC2,6 a sufficient bond quality has to be value bt = 0.4 follows. A respective stress distribution
ensured to prevent bond failure. between the concrete and reinforcement is shown in Fig. 1.
The width w of a symmetrical crack can be calculated by Nevertheless, the MC905 values can also be used without
modifications of the model if necessary.
w = 2 0t e s ( x ) e c ( x ) dx
(2) For reasons of equilibrium, the concrete stress can be
determined with
where lt is the force transfer length; es is the strain of the
reinforcement; and ec is the strain of the concrete. In the s c ( x ) = reff s sr s s ( x ) (6)

where reff = As/Ac,eff is the effective reinforcement ratio with

the cross-sectional area of the steel As and the effective
cross-sectional area of the concrete Ac,eff. The concrete stress
has its maximum value at x = lt. Using Eq. (5) and (6), the
mean concrete stress along lt results in

s cm = reff bt Ds s (7)

The load transfer between the concrete and reinforcement

is governed by bond stresses t(x). Due to equilibrium, it can
be stated that

Cs lt (8)
Ds s = t( x )dx
Fig. 1Stresses in stress transfer length. As 0

42 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012

where Cs is the reinforcement circumference. Instead of esE, and ecE. Whereas esE, ecE, and ssr are prescribed according
the integral formulation, the mean bond stress tm is used, to the loading regime, Dss remains to be determined.
leading to
Single cracks
At load initiation, the RC tension bar is in the uncracked
Cs 4l (9) state. Because the tensile strength is subject to scatter, a
Ds s = lt t m = t t m
As ds cross section with the smallest tensile strength exists, while
its position is governed by chance. With increasing loading,
with the reinforcement diameter ds and Cs/As = 4/ds. The the first single crack develops at this cross section. Experi-
mean bond stress tm is assumed to be proportional to the mental studies by Gopalaratnam and Shah15 showed, for
example, that for a crack width larger than approximately
concrete tensile strength fct according to MC905 and EC2.6
0.05 mm (1.97 103 in.), the stress transfer in the concrete
over the crack becomes insignificant. This corresponds to the
t m = g fct (10) order of magnitude of crack width immediately after crack
development, as shown in a subsequently presented example
The proportionality constant g is defined as equal to on RC. As the consideration of concrete postcracking resis-
1.8 in MC905 for most loading situations. Thus, with tance would considerably complicate the model, whereas
Eq. (5) through (10), the relations between the stresses the influence on the cracking behavior of the bar would be
are sufficiently described. This is used to determine the insignificant, cracking of the concrete in a brittle manner is
mean strains from the mean stresses incorporating imposed assumed in the following.
With the condition that the strains es and ec are equal at x =
strains. Analogous to Eq. (1), the reinforcement strain is
lt, Dss can be determined. On the one hand, it is ss(lt) = ssr
determined with Dss and, furthermore, according to Eq. (6), sc(lt) = reffDss.
With Eq. (11) and (13), the condition es(lt) = ec(lt) leads to
s s ( x)
es ( x) = + e sE (11)
reff Ds s
Es s sr Ds s
+ e sE = + e cE (16)
Es Ec
where Es is the Youngs modulus of the reinforcement; and
esE is the imposed strains, which are assumed to be constant and Dss can be determined with
along the x-axis for simplicity. Applying Eq. (5), the mean
reinforcement strain is s sr + s E
Ds s = (17)
1 + reff a e
s sm 1
e sm =
+ e sE =
(s sr bt Ds s ) + e sE (12)
which contains the ratio ae = Es/Ec and a new variable E,
herein called the eigenstress
Respectively, the mean concrete strain is
s E = Es ( e cE e sE ) (18)
sc ( x)
ec ( x) = + e cE (13)
With Eq. (17), the force transfer length can be calculated
for a single crack from Eq. (15)
where Ec is the Youngs modulus of the concrete; and ecE is
the imposed strains, which are also assumed to be constant ds s sr + s E
along the x-axis. With Eq. (7), the mean concrete strain is 2lt = (19)
2 t m 1 + reff a e
given with
Furthermore, with Eq. (12) and (14), the mean strain
s 1
e cm = cm + e cE =
Ec Ec
reff bt Ds s + e cE ) (14) difference is

s sr + s E
Finally, lt can be expressed with Eq. (9)
e sm e cm =
(1 bt ) (20)

ds (15) Finally, w can be determined with Eq. (4) after prescribing

2lt = Ds s esE, ecE, and ssr.
2t m
With increasing loading, further cracks develop in
the cross sections with the smallest tensile strength. For
where tm is a constant according to Eq. (10). Using Eq. (4), the crack spacing sr, however, the condition sr lt holds
(12), (14), and (15) for the determination of the crack widths w, true because within lt, further cracking is impossible
the variables Es, Ec, bt, reff, ds, and fct are known system values due to the decreasing concrete stresses toward the crack.
and the only variables that need to be specified are ssr, Dss, Apart from that, the position of the next single cracks is

ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012 43

governed by chance. Furthermore, the condition es(lt) = The crack widths w of the stabilized cracking state remain
ec(lt) still holds true. The load increase during cracking to be determined. With Dss according to Eq. (12), (14), and
depends on the scatter of the concrete tensile strength. It is (21), the mean strain difference is given with
typically relatively small compared to the ultimate load of a
sufficiently reinforced RC bar.
1 fct
Stabilized cracking
e sm e cm =
s sr bt
1 + reff a e ) + ( e sE e cE ) (24)

Further cracking between existing cracks requires suffi-
ciently large stresses transferred from the reinforcement to Compare to MC90,5 Eq. (7.4-4), and EC2,6 Eq. (7.9).
the concrete. The stress transfer depends on tm and lt. In Using Eq. (4) and lt according to Eq. (22) and (24), an upper
general, the concrete stress increases with the increasing limit for w for stabilized cracking is given because fct cannot
values of tm and lt, but this is restricted by the condition sc(lt) be reached anymore.
fct. Furthermore, it can be stated with Eq. (6) that sc(lt) =
reffDss. Thus, an upper limit for the stress difference in the
steel at higher load levels is given with AT IMPOSED LOADING
Basic approach
fct (21) For the following derivations, an RC bar of length L, which
Ds s Ds*s =
reff is fixed at both ends, is used. The concrete is loaded with an
imposed strain ecE < 0 constant over L (for example, due to
Correspondingly, with Eq. (15), an upper limit for lt is a temperature reduction). This leads to tensile stresses in the
given with concrete and it is assumed that cracks in the concrete develop.
Regarding the compatibility of deformations, the condition
fct ds (22)
2lt 2lt* = n w + L e c ( x ) dx = Du (25)
2 t m reff

(refer to MC90,5 Eq. (7.4-3), with tm = 1.8fct). Assuming has to be fulfilled, as the concretes tensile strain release
two cracks with a distance of 2lt*, a new crack develops in has to be compensated by cracks (refer to Fig. 2). In this
between if Dss = Ds*s. For the new crack, lt = lt* and sr = l *t condition, n is the number of cracks, w is the mean crack
apply. Because with a given tm under normal conditions l *t is width, ec(x) is the variable concrete strain, and Du is an
too short to again reach fct, no further cracks develop in this externally applied deformation (for example, due to some
region. Hence, for the crack spacing sr, the condition support movement). It follows with Eq. (13) that

lt* sr 2lt* (23) 1 1

L s c ( x ) dx Du
w = L e cE + (26)
n Ec
holds, which also limits the number of cracks at a given bar
length. The state of stabilized cracking is characterized by
Thus, w is primarily determined by the total concrete
the following properties:
Further load increase is completely carried by the contraction LecE and the number of cracks. The concrete
reinforcement until its load-bearing capacity is reached; stress sc(x) results from the restraint of the free deformation
Between two cracks, a position exists where the slip s due to the bond with the reinforcement. Typically, sc(x) is a
between the concrete and reinforcement is equal to zero. tensile stress, which leads to a reduction of the term within
This position distinguishes the load-transfer lengths of the bracket of Eq. (26).
the cracks to the left and right;
At the position s = 0, the reinforcement stress has a Single cracks
minimum, whereas the concrete stress has a maximum Along the x-axis, it has to be distinguished between force-
that does not reach the concrete tensile strength. The transfer regions, where the concrete and reinforcement
respective strains behave in a similar manner; and possess different strain distributions, and regions with
The reinforcement strain increases compared to the uniform strains in the concrete and reinforcement. In the
concrete strain, which retains its course. This distin- latter region, a constant concrete stress sc(lt) exists, whereas
guishes the state of stabilized cracking from the state of in the force-transfer regions with a length of 2lt, the concrete
single cracks. stresses decrease to zero toward the crack and the mean
concrete stress is denoted with scm. Therefore, the crack
width can be derived with Eq. (26) as

1 1
w = L e cE +
n Ec
( )
n2lt s cm + ( L n2lt ) s c (lt ) Du (27)

with sc(lt) = reffDss according to Eq. (6); scm = reffbtDss

according to Eq. (7); and 2lt = dsDss/2tm according to
Fig. 2Qualitative strain distribution in state of single Eq. (15). As a consequence, the condition for the kinematic
crack formation. compatibility is given with Eq. (27) as

44 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012

L Du reff ds L The state of crack development is associated with the
e cE +
Ec 2
2tt m
(1 bt ) Ds 2s Ds s (28)
condition that n2lt < L. If, otherwise, n2lt L, the state of
stabilized cracking is reached.

Furthermore, Eq. (4), (15), (17), and (20) lead to Stabilized cracking
In the stabilized cracking state, only force-transfer regions

( )
ds 1 + a er eff (1 bt )
Ds 2s (29)
exist along the x-axis. Hence, the condition n2lt L = 0 holds
and Eq. (27) leads to
2t m Es
1 1 s Du
Thus, there are two equations for the unknown variables w = L e cE + n2lt s cm Du = 2lt e cE + cm (32)
n Ec Ec L
Dss and w. The solution of this problem is
where scm = reffbtDss according to Eq. (7) and 2lt = dsDss/2tm
1 tL t Es 1 tL according to Eq. (15). Furthermore, it is assumed that Dss =
Ds s = r a
2 n eff e

( L e cE Du)
2 n
reff a e , fct/reff according to Eq. (21), which leads to the requirement
(30) of the kinematic compatibility for stabilized cracking
2t m
t =
ds (1 bt ) fct ds fct Du
w= (33)
2 t m reff e cE + bt E L
It should be noted that ecE < 0. If the value of Dss is
known, then w can be determined with Eq. (29), the force- from which w can be directly calculated. With Eq. (4), (12),
transfer length 2lt can be determined with Eq. (15), and the (14), and (15) and considering that Dss = fct/reff, the crack
reinforcement stress at the crack ssr can be determined with width can also be expressed as
Eq. (17). In the case of imposed loading, ssr does not need to
be predefined in contrast to normal loading, but it is a result
1 fct
of the crack calculations. The force due to the imposed load
is given with fct ds

s sr bt
( )
1 + reff a e +

w= (34)
2 t m reff
Fimp = As s sr (31) e sE e cE +

The previous derivations take into account a decreasing

force because of the reduced stiffness due to cracking. Equating the last two expressions leads to the reinforce-
Finally, the value of concrete stress apart from the force- ment stress at the crack at stabilized cracking
transfer length is needed, which is given with sc(lt) = reffDss.
Crack development s sr = bt Es e sE (35)
The previous derivations show that for imposed loading,
the number of cracks n or the ratio L/n, respectively,
essentially influence the crack widths. Therefore, the crack which can also be used with Eq. (31) to determine the force
development is discussed in more detail in the following. It due to imposed loading. Equations (33) and (35) show that
in the case of stabilized cracking, the crack widths and
is assumed that the imposed concrete strains continuously
imposed stresses with given system parameters only depend
increase starting from zero. on the imposed strains esE and ecE. Contrary to the state of
At first, the condition |ecE| < fct/Ec holds. developing cracking, the number of cracks has no influence.
If |ecE| = fct/Ec, the first crack occurs and n = 1. Apart
from the force-transfer length, the concrete stress is Concrete creep
sc(lt), which is sc(lt) < fct due to the reduced stiffness Shrinkage is a long-lasting process leading to the question
of the bar. of the influence of concrete creep.16 Visco-elastic constitutive
With Eq. (30), Dss can be calculated, which can also be laws are available for the description of creep processes.
used to determine w and sc(lt), depending on ecE. For simplicity, a Kelvin-Voigt model with three parameters
With increasing |ecE|, sc(lt) also increases. If again is used (refer to the inset in Fig. 3). In the uniaxial case,
sc(lt) = fct, the second crack develops and n = 2. the stress-strain relationship for the concrete considering
Afterward, the concrete stress decreases again and imposed strains is given as
sc(lt) < fct applies. The following procedure is similar
to the case of n = 1.
All following cracks are treated as previously discussed, 1+ j 1
s c ( t ) + s c ( t ) = Ec ( e c e cE ) + ( e c e cE ) ,
but with an increasing n. It is assumed that the crack t tcc
spacing is sufficiently large to prevent an interaction (36)
1 E
of the cracks. If this condition is valid, the developed = c
cracks are single cracks. tcc jh

ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012 45

where t is time; s c is the stress rate; e c is the strain rate; Ec deformationthat is, ec = 0Eq. (36) is an ordinary first-
is the initial Youngs modulus; j is the final creep coefficient; order differential equation for sc(t), which can be solved
and h is the viscosity parameter. With a constant stress in closed form with the initial condition sc(t) = 0. Related
sc0 and without imposed strainsthat is, ecE = 0Eq. (36) solutions sc(t)/Ececs are shown in Fig. 3 for a case where Ec =
30,000 MN/m2 (4351 ksi), j = 2, and h = 2 106 MN/m2 per
has the time-dependent solution
day (2.9 105 ksi per day). Therefore, the parameter a = tcs/tcc
is used, which relates the velocity of creep to the velocity of
sc0 t shrinkage. For comparison, the related stress curve without
e c (t ) = 1 + j 1 exp (37) the influence of creep is shown. An affinity of all relations
Ec tcc can be seen. Taking creep into account, the restraint stresses
are limited to sc0 = Ececs/(1 + j).
where tcc is the time at which 63% of the final creep strain is As a result, in a first approach, it is sufficient to regard
reached. Large values of tcc retard creep, whereas low values the influence of creep on shrinkage by a reduction of the
accelerate it. For t = 0, the creep strain is ec = sc0/Ec, but for Youngs modulus of the concrete Ec, which can be taken into
large values of t, it is given by ec = (1 + j)sc0/Ec. With a account with a factor of 1/(1 + j). This also corresponds
predefined creep regime over time, the parameters j and h to common practice as recommended by MC905 and
can be determined. EC2,6 where limitations of the applicability of this approach
Shrinkage strains are assumed as are also specified, which are also valid for the present model.
The ratio ae is also indirectly influenced.
e cE ( t ) = e cs 1 exp (38) VALIDATION
tcs Thermal loading
Thorough studies on the cracking of RC tension members
where ecs is the final shrinkage strain; and tcs is the specific caused by thermal loading were performed by Falkner.7 Seven
shrinkage time. Together with a complete restraint of specimens with lengths of 6 m (236.2 in.) and constant
concrete cross sections but variable reinforcement ratios
and diameters of the reinforcing bars (refer to Table 1) were
heated in a water bath up to a temperature of 80C (176F).
Immediately after taking them out of the water bath, the
specimens were fixed in a rigid frame and cooled down to an
ambient air temperature of 20C (68F) within a period of
approximately 24 hours. Temperature differences between
the outside cross-sectional areas and core cross-sectional
areas were measured and proved to be relatively small. The
average crack width values and reinforcement stress at the
cracks in the final state are also summarized in Table 1.
A mean concrete Youngs modulus of Ec = 32,000 MN/m2
(4641 ksi) was determined. The concrete tensile strengths
were determined as the uniaxial tensile strength for each
Fig. 3Influence of creep on imposed stresses due to shrinkage. specimen (refer to Table 1). A Youngs modulus of Es =

Table 1Results of experiments by Falkner7 and comparison to results of model

Specimen properties
Specimen No. 1a 1b 1c 2a 2c 3a 3c
ds, mm (in.) 4 (0.16) 6 (0.24) 10 (0.39) 6 (0.24) 12 (0.47) 8 (0.32) 14 (0.55)
reff, % 0.51 0.48 0.53 0.76 0.76 1.01 1.03
fct, MN/m (psi) 2.43 (352.4) 2.13 (308.9) 2.05 (297.3) 2.33 (337.9) 1.95 (282.8) 2.12 (307.5) 2.00 (290.1)

Experimental results
Number of cracks 12 14 5 27 10 24 14
wm, mm (103 in.) 0.19 (7.5) 0.17 (6.7) 0.32 (12.6) 0.10 (3.9) 0.23 (9.1) 0.08 (3.2) 0.16 (6.3)
ssr, MN/m2 (ksi) 427 (61.9) 406 (58.9) 373 (54.1) 296 (42.9) 283 (41.1) 257 (37.3) 240 (34.8)

Model results (tm = 1.8fct)

Number of cracks 14 10 8 23 14 27 16
wm, mm (103 in.) 0.22 (8.7) 0.32 (12.6) 0.42 (16.5) 0.14 (5.5) 0.24 (9.5) 0.12 (4.7) 0.21 (8.3)
ssr, MN/m2 (ksi) 494 (71.7) 461 (66.8) 401 (58.2) 321 (46.6) 268 (38.9) 245 (35.5) 236 (34.2)

Model results (tm = 2.5fct and ssr equal to case of tm = 1.8fct)

Number of cracks 20 13 10 32 19 38 22
wm, mm (103 in.) 0.16 (6.3) 0.23 (9.1) 0.30 (11.8) 0.10 (3.4) 0.17 (6.7) 0.12 (4.7) 0.21 (8.3)

46 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012

Table 2Results of experiments by Nejadi and Gilbert14 and comparison to results of model
Specimen properties
Specimen No. S1a S1b S2a S3a S3b S4a S4b
ds, mm (in.) 12 (0.47) 12 (0.47) 10 (0.39) 10 (0.39) 10 (0.39) 10 (0.39) 10 (0.39)
reff, % 0.57 0.57 0.39 0.26 0.26 0.52 0.52

Experimental results
Elongation, mm (10 in.) 0.31 (12.2) 0.38 (15.0) 0.31 (12.2) 0.40 (15.8) 0.42 (16.5) 0.25 (9.8) 0.16 (6.3)
Number of cracks 4 4 3 1 2 3 3
wm, mm (103 in.) 0.21 (8.3) 0.18 (7.1) 0.30 (11.8) 0.84 (33.1) 0.50 (19.7) 0.23 (9.1) 0.25 (9.8)
ssr, MN/m2 (ksi) 273 (39.6) 190 (27.6) 250 (36.3) 532 (77.2) 467 (67.7) 270 (39.2) 276 (40.0)

Model results
Number of cracks 4 4 3 2 2 4 4
wm, mm (103 in.) 0.25 (9.8) 0.26 (10.2) 0.33 (13.0) 0.56 (22.1) 0.56 (22.1) 0.23 (9.1) 0.21 (8.3)
ssr, MN/m2 (ksi) 275 (39.9) 289 (41.9) 369 (53.5) 499 (72.4) 503 (72.9) 295 (42.8) 279 (40.5)

200,000 MN/m2 (29,008 ksi) is used for the reinforcement. different concrete batch was used. Due to the shrinkage of
The remaining values of the model are chosen with tm = the massive concrete support blocks, each specimen was
1.8fct and bt = 0.6. The latter value is appropriate for the case elongated externally to some extent, which is considered in
of the first crack formation, as proposed by MC90.5 the model by means of the external deformation Du applied
The results of the model (refer to Table 1) generally confirm to Eq. (25). The measured elongations, average values
the well-known relationship that both crack width and of crack width after 150 days, number of cracks, and the
imposed reinforcement stresses decrease with a decreasing reinforcement stresses at the cracks are given in Table 2.
reinforcement bar diameter and an increasing reinforce- The remaining parameters for the model are chosen with
ment ratio. The model overestimates the experimental crack tm = 2.5fct and bt = 2/3. This deviates from the code values
width by an average of 37%. The imposed reinforcement used previously but is in agreement with the respective values
stresses are slightly overestimated for the low and medium chosen by Nejadi and Gilbert14 for their own analytical
reinforcement stresses and slightly underestimated for the model. The values for the number of cracks, the crack width,
high reinforcement stress. A better agreement of the experi- and the reinforcement stress as computed with the model
mental and theoretical crack width values is reached with are also given in Table 2. An extra crack has been added for
an increased value of tm. A relation of tm = 2.5fct leads to an each specimen due to a notch at the midspan. The agreement
average deviation of less than 10% regarding crack width between the experimental and theoretical values seems to be
values, whereas the reinforcement stresses remain unchanged reasonable, except for Specimens S1b, S2a, and S3a, with
but the numbers of cracks increase. Thus, taking into account
respect to reinforcement stresses. Specimen S3a has only one
that for every parameter combination only one experiment
crack in the experiment arising in the specimen notch, which
was performed and uncertainties in the effectively existing
must lead to a very large crack width and reinforcement
bond parameters typically appear, the validity of the model
stress. The deviating experimental values of Specimens S1b
for thermal loading can be confirmed.
and S2a are somehow contrary to the general tendency that
Shrinkage crack widths and reinforcement stresses should increase
Experimental studies regarding the influence of shrinkage with an increasing prescribed elongation and decreasing
were performed by Nejadi and Gilbert.14 In a series of eight reinforcement ratio. Nevertheless, taking into account the
constrained RC specimens exposed to ambient temperature large uncertainties associated with experiments on concrete
and humidity over a period of 150 days, the shrinkage shrinkage, the validity of the model seems to be proven.
behavior was observed. Furthermore, the creep behavior of
companion specimens with no constraints was determined. EXAMPLE OF APPLICATION
Each specimen had a length of 2 m (78.7 in.) and was Thermal loading
connected to massive concrete blocks at its ends. Except As an example of application, an RC bar with a length L
for one specimen, the same concrete batch was used for of 2 m (78.74 in.) is used. The concrete material parameters
all specimens. The concrete properties of this batch were are assumed with fct = 3 MN/m2 (0.435 ksi) and Ec =
determined with Youngs modulus Ec = 22,810 MN/m2 30,000 MN/m2 (4351 ksi). The ratio between the Youngs
(3308 ksi) and tensile strength fct = 2.0 MN/m2 (0.290 ksi). moduli is ae = 6.67 and the coefficient of thermal expansion
After 122 days, the creep coefficient was determined with is aT = 1 105 K1 for both the concrete and reinforcement.
j = 1 and the shrinkage strain was determined with ecs = The bond parameters are chosen constant with tm = 1.8fct
0.457 103. For the reinforcement, a Youngs modulus and bt = 0.6, assuming that the creep effects on bond are
of Es = 200,000 MN/m2 (29,008 ksi) is again assumed in negligible in a first approach. The cross section of the
the model. concrete is assumed to be quadratic with an edge length of
For each reinforcement combination (refer to Table 2), two d = 0.1 m (3.94 in.). As reinforcement, one steel bar with
nominally identical specimens were produced, except for the diameter ds of 14 mm (0.55 in.) is chosen. This leads to As
specimens specified with S2, where for one specimen a = 1.54 cm2 (0.239 in.2), Ac,eff = 100 cm2 (15.5 in.2), and reff

ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012 47

Using the condition sc(lt) = fct, the second crack develops
at a thermal strain of eT = 1.738 104, which corresponds
to a temperature change of DT = 17.38 K (31.28F).
Now, it is n = 2 and the values of Dss, w, and sc(lt) can be
determined again, depending on eT. The same calculations
have to be performed for increasing n. The values for 2lt can
be calculated with Eq. (15). In this example, for n = 8, it is
n2lt > L, indicating stabilized cracking. With Eq. (33), the
crack width for n = 8 can be calculated as follows

w = 0.2526 eT 1.011 10 5 (m)

(= 9.94e T 3.98 10 4 (in.) )
The calculated crack widths are shown in Fig. 4, where
Fig. 4Crack widths due to temperature reduction. (Note: the typical sawtooth course during the crack development
F = (K 273.15) 9/5 + 32.) is observable. After each crack event, an abrupt decrease of
the crack widths occurs because more cracks are available
to ensure kinematic compatibility. All crack widths remain
below an upper limit because further temperature changes
are compensated with further cracks. The crack widths only
exceed this limit at a temperature change of |DT| > 60
(108F) at stabilized cracking. Similar results are obtained
for ssr and are shown in Fig. 5.

Thermal strains versus shrinkage strains

In the case of thermal strains, the imposed strains are esE =
ecE = eT = aTDT with DT < 0. In contrast, in the case of concrete
shrinkage, only the concrete has imposed strains, which are
ecE = ecs < 0, whereas esE = 0. The shrinkage strains can be
quantified according to MC905 and EC2.6 Under unfavorable
conditions, the shrinkage strains may approach values up to
ecs = 1 103, which corresponds with aT = 1 105 K1 to
a temperature change of DT = 100 K (180F). Again, the
Fig. 5Reinforcement stresses at crack due to tempera- displacements of the concrete and the reinforcement at the
ture reduction. (Note: F = (K 273.15) 9/5 + 32.) ends of the bar are prescribed equal to zero.
At first, the case of single cracks and the crack development
is considered. With Eq. (30), the stress changes in the
= 0.0154. Furthermore, according to Eq. (22), lt* = 0.13 m reinforcement can be determined. It can be seen that Dss is
(5.12 in.) is given. independent of the type of imposed loadingthat is, if there
The RC bar is loaded with a temperature reduction is thermal loading or concrete shrinkage. The same is valid
DT < 0, which acts simultaneously on the concrete and for the crack widths w according to Eq. (29). In contrast, the
the reinforcement, leading to imposed strains esE = ecE reinforcement stress at the crack is given with Eq. (17) and
= eT = aTDT. The ends of the bar are fixedthat is, the (18), which are for thermal strains
displacements of the concrete and the reinforcement are
prescribed to zero at these positions and Du = 0. This is a
considerable difference from conventional uniaxial tensile
( )
s sr = 1 + reff a e Ds s (42)
loading, where displacements or forces would be applied to
and for concrete shrinkage
the bar at its ends. The thermal strain leading to the first crack
is eT = fct/Ec = 1 104, corresponding to a temperature
change of DT = 10 K (18F). With Eq. (29) and (30) and ( )
s sr = 1 + reff a e Ds s + Es e cs (43)
sc(lt) = reffDss, for n = 1, it is
It can be seen that in the case of concrete shrinkage, the
5 2
reinforcement stress is considerably lower due to ecs < 0.
Ds s = 71.42 3.412 1.008 10 eT 131.9 (MN/m ) Moreover, Dss and w are identical for thermal loading
( )
(39) and shrinkage in the stabilized cracking state because it
= 10,359 3.412 1.008 10 5 eT 19,130 (psi)
is insignificant whether an imposed reinforcement strain
exists simultaneously to an imposed concrete strain (refer to
and Eq. (33)). In contrast, the reinforcement stress at the crack
is larger for thermal loading by a value of Esecs, compared to
( )
w = 4.287 10 9 Ds s (m) = 1.164 10 9 Ds s (in.) , the case of concrete shrinkage according to Eq. (35).
The consequences of concrete creep, as described by
s c (lt ) = 0.0154 Ds s (40) Eq. (38), are presented by means of the example of shrinkage,

48 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012

where esE = 0 and ecE = ecs. The creep coefficient and
viscosity parameter are assumed with j = 2 and h = 2
106 MN/m2 per day (2.9 105 ksi per day), which leads to
a Youngs modulus of the concrete of Ec = 10,000 MN/m2
(1450 ksi) and ae = 20. Apart from that, the calculations are
similar to those previously presented.
The calculated crack widths are shown in Fig. 6. For
comparison, the relationship without the influence of creep
is shown with the case of j = 0. It can be seen that in the
case considering creep, crack development starts at higher
shrinkage strains, leading to larger crack widths for single
cracks. Due to a later beginning of stabilized cracking for
j = 2 associated with the reduced stiffness of the concrete,
crack widths for stabilized cracking are lower compared to
j = 0.
The development of reinforcement stresses at the cracks Fig. 6Crack widths due to concrete shrinkage.
with increasing ecs is shown in Fig. 7. The differences
regarding the stress levels between both cases are
insignificant. Nevertheless, compared to reinforcement
stresses in the case of thermal loading (Fig. 5), considerably
lower values can be seen. This is due to the fact that in
the case of concrete shrinkage, imposed stresses result
solely from concrete contraction between cracks. Between
cracks, concrete contraction is not fully transferred to the
reinforcement due to flexible bond. The stress transfer zones
increase with increasing numbers of cracks, leading to
decreasing reinforcement stress. In the case of temperature
reduction, the steel also contracts, imposing tensile stress in
the reinforcement under constraint conditions in addition to
the tensile stress imposed by the concrete. Reinforcement
contraction leads to reinforcement stresses increasing
proportionally to the temperature decrease. This can also be
seen in Eq. (42) and (43).

The example showed that in the state of crack development, Fig. 7Reinforcement stresses at crack due to concrete
the largest crack width already occurs immediately before shrinkage.
the second crack develops, corresponding to n = 1 and sc(lt)
= reffDss = fct. Thus, it is imposed strain is given as well. Equation (46) can be further
simplified if ae is neglected, which with sE = 0 leads to
fct (44)
Ds s = Ac ,eff
reff s sr = fct (47)
and Eq. (29) gives the maximum crack widths in the state of
crack development. This is similar to the minimum reinforcement requirement
according to MC90,5 Eq. (7.4-16), and EC2,6 Eq. (7.1).
1 Using Eq. (47) with Eq. (4), (19), and (20) and sE = 0, the
ds fct2 1 bt ae
wmax = 2 + (45) crack width is calculated with
2 t m Es reff reff
ds fct2 1 bt 1
It is independent of the imposed strains and bar lengths, wmax = (48)
whereas a large influence of fct and reff exists. The 2 t m Es reff 2
(1 + reff a e )
reinforcement stress in a crack can be determined with
Eq. (17) and (44) This will be shown again based on the previous examples.
The material parameters of the concrete are assumed as fct =
3.0 MN/m2 (0.435 ksi) and Ec = 30,000 MN/m2 (4351 ksi).
1 With fixed values for ae, bt, and tm, only ds and reff remain
s sr = fct + ae sE (46) as variable parameters for the determination of the crack
reff width. The respective evaluation of Eq. (45) and (48) is
shown in Fig. 8, which illustrates the strong influence of reff.
with sE according to Eq. (18) where, in the case of thermal Furthermore, it can be seen that the simplified calculation
strains, sE = 0. With Eq. (46), the maximum force due to the according to Eq. (48) underestimates the crack widths by

ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012 49

tively, the concept of the effective concrete area in tension
exists.5,6 This leads to a relatively simple and applicable
model, although it exhibits relatively large model uncer-
tainties. Additionally, relatively large scatter exists
concerning the concrete tensile strength and bond behavior
between the concrete and reinforcement. Correspondingly,
MC905 and EC26 state that the values of the crack widths
determined with the conventional approaches are only
estimations and not exact predictions.

Ac,eff = effective cross-sectional area of concrete
As = cross-sectional area of reinforcement bar
Cs = circumference of reinforcement bar
ds = diameter of reinforcement bar
E = Youngs modulus
Ec = Youngs modulus of concrete
Fig. 8Crack widths with different reinforcement diameters Es = Youngs modulus of reinforcement
and effective reinforcement ratios. Fimp = force due to restrained imposed loading
fct = tensile strength of concrete
L = length of bar
approximately 10 to 20% compared to Eq. (45). This might lt = force transfer length
be tenable, considering the simplified model and the scatter n = number of cracks
of its parameters in practice. s = slip
It remains to be determined at which value of imposed sr = crack spacing
T = temperature
strain the state of crack development is finished and the state t = time
of stabilized cracking starts. The threshold value is denoted tcc = specific creep time
with eII. Considering Fig. 3, it can be seen that the crack tcs = specific shrinkage time
widths in the stabilized cracking state according to Eq. (33) w = crack width
approximately correspond to wmax for ecE = eII according to x = longitudinal coordinate
ae = ratio between Youngs moduli of reinforcement and concrete
Eq. (45). Thus, a condition for eII is given, where the solu- bt = shape coefficient of reinforcement stress course
tion is DT = temperature change
Du = external deformation
Dss = difference between minimum and maximum reinforcement stress
1 1 bt 1 e = strain
e II = fct + (49) ec = concrete strain
Ec Es reff
e c = strain rate of concrete
ecE = imposed concrete strain
For example, this provides eII = 0.68 103 or DT = 68 K ecm = mean concrete strain
(122.4F), respectively. Such a temperature change seems ecs = concrete shrinkage strain
eE = imposed strain
to be unusual, but a corresponding shrinkage strain might be eII = strain at transition from crack development to stabilized cracking
realistic under certain circumstances. es = reinforcement strain
esE = imposed reinforcement strain
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS esm = mean reinforcement strain
Based on the presented model, essential aspects of the eT = thermal strain
h = viscosity parameter
crack development of RC due to imposed loading (for j = creep coefficient
example, thermal loading or concrete shrinkage) were reff = effective reinforcement ratio
presented. This study provides formulas for the estimation s = stress
of crack widths for immediate use within the framework of sc = concrete stress
MC905 and EC2.6 Furthermore, relations for restraint forces s c = stress rate of concrete
scm = mean concrete stress
are given. In this context, the interrelations between crack
scr = concrete stress at the crack
widths, reinforcement ratio, concrete tensile strength, and sE = eigenstress
reinforcement diameter based on kinematic compatibility ss = reinforcement stress
were shown and the connection to the concept of minimum ssm = mean reinforcement stress
reinforcement is given. Furthermore, this study distin- ssr = reinforcement stress at crack
guishes between thermal loading and concrete shrinkage and t = bond stress
tm = mean bond stress
between single cracks and stabilized cracking. Therefore,
complete deformation restraint is assumed for simplicity. A
flexible deformation restraint could be taken into account in 1. ACI Committee 318, Building Code Requirements for Structural
the models by means of springs as supports. Concrete (ACI 318-08) and Commentary, American Concrete Institute,
This contribution is limited to the case of tension bars Farmington Hills, MI, 2008, 473 pp.
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reinforcement. Varying stresses and strains (for example, Effects in Concrete Structures (ACI 209R-92) (Reapproved 2008),
American Concrete Institute, Farmington Hills, MI, 1992, 47 pp.
due to bending or asymmetric reinforcement distribution, 3. ACI Committee 224, Control of Cracking in Concrete Structures
respectively) require the enhancement of the model, at (ACI 224R-01) (Reapproved 2008), American Concrete Institute,
least with plane stress elements for the concrete. Alterna- Farmington Hills, MI, 2001, 46 pp.

50 ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012

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ACI Structural Journal/January-February 2012 51

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