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Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125

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Size effects in the analysis of reinforced concrete structures


Roberto D. Rios, Jorge D. Riera 
Civil Engineering Department, PPGEC, School of Engineering, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Received 27 May 2003; accepted 31 March 2004

Abstract

The mechanical properties of engineering materials are routinely determined by testing. In practice, the dimensions of structural
elements are often much larger than those of the samples that, for technical or economic reasons, can be subjected to laboratory
testing. Consequently, testing is usually conducted on reduced scale models or material samples. At the same time, available the-
ories of material behavior that predict size or strain rate effects are receiving increasing attention in the technical literature. How-
ever, finite element models or similar representations, used for engineering predictions of the strength or loading capacity of large
structures, rarely consider the influence of scale.
The so-called discrete element method (DEM), in which a solid is replaced by a three-dimensional lattice of one-dimensional
elements linking lumped nodal masses, has been extensively used to determine the dynamic response of concrete structures sub-
jected to loads that produce fracture and fragmentation. In this paper, it is shown how the two major causes of size effects,
namely the non-homogeneous character of the materials and the occurrence of fracture, can be incorporated in the analysis, in
order to improve the prediction capability of the method. The latter is validated by numerically analyzing geometrically similar
reinforced concrete beams, tested to rupture by Leonhart and Walter (1965). Those tests were later reproduced by Ramallo et al.
(1993). Both the non-homogeneous character of concrete and steel were taken into account in the DEM, by assuming that the
initial modulus and specific fracture energy are random fields in three-dimensional space. The constitutive criteria for the lattice
elements, employed earlier by the authors to account for the energy dissipated by fracture, is adopted in the paper, with improve-
ments in the consideration of the cross-correlation between relevant variables. As additional evidence of the reliability of the
approach, the discrete numerical model was also used to numerically simulate experimental results due to Vliet et al. (2000),
aimed at quantifying the influence of sample size on the tensile strength of concrete.
# 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Size effects; Concrete; Reinforced concrete; Discrete model

1. Introduction ciencies of the assumption, when used for predictive


purposes, had already been of concern for Leonardo
In classical theories of solid mechanics it is assumed da Vinci [1] and is at the center of current debates on
that material properties, such as the tensile or com- the modeling of rupture in solids [2]. Nevertheless, the
pressive strengths, exist and are not scale dependent. In explicit consideration of size is still far from being com-
engineering practice such properties, measured on stan- mon practice in structural design.
dard samples of the material, are usually assumed An important contribution to the understanding of
applicable to structural elements whose size greatly dif- physical aspects of the problem was presented by
fers from those of the test samples. There are few Griffth [3] who, in establishing the fundaments of frac-
exceptions to this contention such as, for instance, ture mechanics, unveiled one of the relevant features of
some recent code recommendations for the evaluation the phenomenon of rupture in solids. Following an
of the ultimate shear of concrete beams. The defi- entirely different line of reasoning, Weibull [4]
explained the commonly observed reduction of the fail-

Corresponding author. Fax: +55 (51) 3316 3999.
ure stress of structural elements with size, as a conse-
E-mail addresses: riera@cpgec.ufrgs.br (J.D. Riera), rrios@ppgec. quence of the random distribution of the local material
ufrs.br (R.D. Rios). properties. Weibull’s approach is clearly not valid for
0141-0296/$ - see front matter # 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.engstruct.2004.03.012
1116 R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125

fragile materials, in which well-defined cracks occur, or discussions of size and strain rate effects on the mech-
in materials that present localized damaged zones. anical properties of solids, from a continuum standpoint,
These include many engineering materials such as con- was recently presented by Morquio [15]. Morquio and
crete, mortars, asphalt mixtures or rocks. Within this Riera [16,17], also furnish experimental evidence for
group, cement concrete has possibly been the most the tensile strength of mild steel.
widely used material in the last century and has in As anticipated above, an alternative model [12,25],
consequence attracted considerable attention. In this based on the representation of solids as a three-dimen-
connection, relevant studies, such as those due to sional lattice of uniaxial elements, has been successfully
Kaplan [5], date back to the second half of last cen- used in the last two decades for purposes of dynamic
tury. Between 1976 and 1978, Hilleborg et al. [6], analysis of structures subjected to fracturing and frag-
inspired in the concept of softening and in the process mentation, phenomena that are typical of the failure
of plastic fracture, proposed the fictitious crack model, stage of reinforced concrete structures. Iturrioz and
which had a decisive influence in further developments, Riera [18–20], Rios [21], Rios and Riera [22] used the
while Bažant [7] introduced the cracked band model to model in conjunction with explicit numerical inte-
explain size effects in concrete. Afterwards, Bažant gration of the equations of motion. In addition to its
[13,14] derived simple expressions to account for the simplicity and flexibility, this approach permits the sim-
influence of size on the nominal failure strength of fra- ultaneous consideration of causes (a) and (b) of size
gile materials, such as concrete subjected to static load- effects, indicated before, and may be reliably used for
ings. prediction purposes. This paper describes the basic fea-
A quite different approach to the so-called size effect tures of the method, as well as its validation in connec-
was proposed by Carpinteri et al. [8–11], justified by tion with the quantification of size effects, by the
the apparently fractal properties of fissures in several numerical determination of the response of reinforced
materials. Carpinteri suggests that the difference concrete beams of various sizes tested in Germany and
between the fractal characteristics of cracks and micro- Argentina and, in addition, of unreinforced specimens
cracks at different observation scales constitutes the of various sizes subjected to tension, tested in Holland.
main cause of size effects in concrete, notion that is It is shown that the influence of scale, as well as the
strongly questioned by Bažant [7,13]. inherent variability of the experimental results, are cor-
In summary, three basic phenomena have been poin- rectly accounted for, thus validating the approach for
ted out as responsible for size effects in the mechanical the numerical analysis of concrete structures liable to
properties of engineering material: (a) the random dis- experience such effects.
tribution of local material properties (Weibull
approach), (b) the energy necessary to form the new
surfaces that bound cracks, in linear elastic fracture 2. The discrete element model of solids (DEM)
mechanics (LEFM) or other related theories, including
damage and fracture band models, (c) the theory of The approach is based on the representation of a
fractals. Models that incorporate more than one basic solid by an arrangement of elements able to carry only
cause of size effects have already been discussed in the axial loads. The cubic arrangement shown in Fig. 1,
technical literature [14]. The objective of this paper is consists of a cell with eight nodes at its corners plus a
to describe the methodology necessary to consider the central node. Nayfeh and Hefzy [23] determined the
causes responsible for size effects in a discrete, numeri- properties of an equivalent orthotropic elastic con-
cal formulation that has proved both powerful and tinuum, in order to model panels made of large num-
efficient for determining the response of concrete struc- bers of small interconnected bars, widely employed in
tures to short-time dynamic loading. Consideration of the aeronautical industry. Thus, plate or shell finite
the influence of scale is considered an essential feature elements (FEM) for orthotropic materials could be
of methods of analysis used to predict the strength, i.e. used with considerable reduction in the size of the
the failure loads, of large size structures, such as resulting FE models. The discrete elements represen-
nuclear power plants containment buildings and other tation of the orthotropic continuum was adopted by
containment structures, dams or bridges. The preceding the authors to solve structural dynamics problems by
discussion aims at bringing the issue, which is not part means of explicit direct numerical integration of the
of current engineering practice, into proper focus. equations of motion, assuming the mass lumped at the
It must be mentioned at this point that most pre- nodes. Each node has three degrees of freedom, corre-
vious developments in this area were based on the sponding to the nodal displacements in the three
basic assumptions of Continuum Mechanics, or aimed orthogonal coordinate directions. For a cubic arrange-
at applications of methods of analysis founded on ment, the lengths
pffiffiffi of longitudinal and diagonal elements
those assumptions, as for instance, finite (FEM) or are Lo and 3=2 Lo , respectively. The equivalence
boundary element (BEM) methods. A comprehensive between the orthotropic elastic solid with the ortho-
R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125 1117

Fig. 1. Cubic arrangements of discrete elements: (a) cubic cell, (b) and (c) structural models.

tropy axes oriented in the direction parallel to the


longitudinal elements of the discrete elements model
was verified by Hayashi [24], through extensive numeri-
cal experimentation. The equations that relate the
properties of the elements with the elastic constants of
an isotropic medium are:
9v

ð48vÞ
L2 ð9 þ 8dÞ
EAn ¼ o E ð1Þ
Fig. 2. Bi-linear constitutive law for fragile material.
2 ð9 þ 12dÞ
2An
EAd ¼ pffiffiffi
3 elasticity, as well as in elastic instability problems, was
in which E and v denote Young’s modulus and Pois- verified by Hayashi [24]. More recently, Rocha [26] and
son’s coefficient, respectively, while An and Ad rep- Rocha and Riera [27] extended the method to the
resent the areas of normal and diagonal elements, as analysis of fracture and/or non-linear material beha-
shown in Fig. 1a. It is important to point out that for vior in reinforced concrete structures and also for soil–
v ¼ 0:25, the discrete model predictions exactly cement admixtures. In those references, as well as in
coincide with the isotropic continuum formulation, the present paper, the relation between stress and strain
while for other values of v small errors appear in the in the material was assumed bi-linear, as indicated in
shear terms, which may nevertheless be neglected. In Fig. 2. The limit strain er is determined to satisfy the
addition, note that the extreme cases, v ¼ 0 and condition that, upon rupture of the element, once the
v ¼ 0:5, for which the model cannot be used, are not strain reaches the value er, a given amount of energy is
physically feasible. The resulting equations of motion liberated. This energy equals the product of the frac-
may be written in the well-known form: tured area Af, which depends on the correlation length
 Lc of the process, and the specific fracture energy Gf,
€ þ C~
Mx F r ðtÞ  ~
x_ þ ~ PðtÞ ¼ 0 ð2Þ
which is in turn a material property. The previously
in which x represents the vector of generalized nodal mentioned criterion for evaluating the energy dissi-
displacements, M the diagonal mass matrix; C the pated is based on the assumption that just one fracture
damping matrix, ~ F r ðtÞ the vector of internal forces act- can occur between two adjacent nodes, which is gener-
ing on the nodal masses and ~ PðtÞ the vector of external ally the case for small lengths Lc in static or pseudo-
forces. The explicit central finite differences scheme is static problems.1 Another important feature of the
used to integrate Eq. (2) in the time domain. Since the
nodal coordinates are altered at every time step, large 1
The material parameters are not independent on the mesh size.
displacements can be considered in a natural and In high velocity impact problems, for example, higher values of the
efficient manner. The convergence of solutions specific fracture energy have to be used to account for the occurrence
obtained with discrete element method (DEM) in linear of multiple cracks between nodes.
1118 R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125

approach is the assumption that all material properties, Table 1


such as E and Gf, are not constant throughout the struc- Material properties in numerical models
ture, but random fields. The characteristics of these ran- Property
dom fields are part of the so-called constitutive criteria E (Ec) (MPa) 2:5  10
of the material and influence its response under load. fck (MPa) 38
This work uses the spectral representation method for ftk (MPa) 3.80
the simulation of three-dimensional homogeneous E (Gf) (N m) 120.0
stochastic fields [34], which provides one value of the fsy (MPa) 495.0
CV(Gf) (%) 35
simulated variable at each point in a previously dis- CV(Ec) (%) 35
cretized field. It is necessary to specify the stochastic q (Kg/m3) 2500
characteristics of the field to be simulated, such as the m 0.20
power spectral density function Sf or the autocorrela- Lo (m) 0.02667
tion function Rf. The latter was herein assumed to be E( ) and CV denote expected value and coefficient of variation,
an exponential function of distance, with a single para- respectively).
meter, the correlation length Lc. Although this is an
area of ongoing research, the specification of each rel-
evant field spectral content by means of a single para- points, as shown in Fig. 3. At points of load appli-
meter, its correlation length, seems to be sufficient for cation and at the supports, scaled steel plates were
engineering purposes. One of the authors determined fixed with cement mortar to the beams, to distribute
the correlation length for the compressive strength of the loads and reactions.
concrete in bored piles, which was found to be equal to Ramallo et al. [28] introduced minor alterations in
2.5 times the maximum aggregate size. This may be the tests set-up, which are described below:
considered as indicative of the correlation lengths for
the fields that characterize E and Gf, for concrete, 1. To maintain the steel percentage constant, while
which are usually assumed to vary between two or using commercially available diameters, three
three times the maximum aggregate size. Various instead of two rebars were used in some of the
examples of the DEM used to model concrete and rein- models.
forced concrete structures may be found in [19–22]. 2. Concrete compressive strength was determined on
cylindrical rather than cubic specimens.
3. Loads were applied in five to seven increments, ver-
3. Experimental assessment of size effect in ifying at each stage the degree of cracking. The evol-
reinforced concrete beams and discrete element ution of the applied loads with time is shown in
modeling of tested beams Fig. 4.
4. An electronic measuring system was used, which
One of the most valuable sets of data on the influ- allowed a detailed monitoring of the response, not
ence of scale on the strength of reinforced concrete possible in the Sttuttgart tests.
structures is due to Leonhart et al. [28], who tested in
Sttuttgart four scaled models of a beam. Afterwards, The models used in the DEM simulations had the
Ramallo et al. [29–31] reproduced the Sttuttgart tests dimensions and reinforcement reported by Ramallo
in a carefully conducted experimental program. Herein, et al. [29–31]. In order to reproduce the laboratory
the DEM is used to numerically reproduce the experi- equipment, which was relatively stiff, time-dependent
mental results mentioned above, which furnish impor- displacements were specified at the load application
tant evidence on size effects in concrete. For such points, in accordance with the velocity of the hydraulic
purpose, the tests of Leonhart and Walther Series D system.
beams were simulated. Dimensions and material Table 1 indicates the parameters for the simulation
properties are indicated in Table 1. of the mechanical properties in the numerical studies,
The tested beams had full geometrical similarity, as well as the element sizes. The number of elements
with constant reinforcement ratio. Thus, the rebar dia- employed in the numerical simulation are presented in
meters were proportional to the exterior beam dimen- Table 2.
sions. The beams slenderness was l=h ¼ 100=15 ¼ 6:7. The reinforcement used by Ramallo et al. [29–31]
All dimensions kept the ratios D1:D2:D3:D4 equal to was simulated in the numerical models in detail. Note
1:2:3:4, respectively. Conformed and straight steel that there were slight differences in the reinforcement
rebars were used (Bst IIIb) with no shear reinforcement distribution between the Leonhart and Ramallo beams.
or stirrups. The diameters were 6, 12, 18 and 24 mm, Since Refs. [28–32] do not include information on the
respectively, which results in 1.62% steel ratio for all rate of loading, it was assumed that the points of
beams. Loads were applied symmetrically at two load application displaced with a constant velocity of
R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125 1119

Fig. 3. Dimensions of models tested by Ramallo [30].

Fig. 4. Evolution of loads with time for the numerical models of beams D1 to D4.
1120 R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125

Table 2 cracking patterns, that is, in the failure modes were


Number of elements employed in numerical DEM models recorded (See Figs. 9–12). This suggests that the
Model M N L method of loading—applied loads or applied displace-
D1 28 3 4
ments—may in some structures result in perceptible
D2 55 5 7 differences in the experimentally determined load
D3 82 7 10 capacity.
D4 109 9 13

4. Experimental assessment of size effect in concrete


0.015 m/s, which should not perceptibly alter the
elements subjected to tension
response in relation to the velocities actually used in
the tests, but results in a significant reduction of the Experimental studies of the size effect typically
computational effort. The time step in the explicit involve bodies subjected to homogeneous, uniaxial
numerical integration scheme was 4:9  106 s, which stress fields, in order to avoid the presence of other
assured numerical stability. potentially relevant factors, such as stress gradients. In
The predicted cracking patterns and deformations order to achieve this objective, Vliet et al. [33]
are shown in Figs. 5–8 for models D1, D2, D3, and employed samples with the form of a bone, which
D4, respectively. In these figures, elements that remain result in an approximately uniform tensile stress in its
linearly elastic and damaged elements are represented central region, where rupture occurs, thus avoiding the
in black and gray, respectively. Broken (failed) ele- influence of the grips that fix the samples to the testing
ments were removed from the graphs. machine. In this section, the samples tested by Vliet
The dimensions of the beams tested in Sttuttgart and et al. [33] will be modeled using the DEM as further
Tucumán, as well as the experimental results, are sum- evidence of the reliability and robustness of the
marized in Table 5. The numerical predictions resulting approach. The testing samples were built with concrete
from the simulations with the DEM models are pre- with a maximum aggregate size of 8 mm and character-
sented in Table 6. The ultimate load (Pu) for each case istic cubic compressive strength equal to 50 MPa. The
is given in column 12, while column 13 indicates the thickness of all samples herein reported was 100 mm,
corresponding shear forces (Vu). The ultimate shear corresponding to the five larger samples tested by Vliet
stress, calculated by means of Eq. (3) is presented in et al. [33]. The length of the discrete elements in the
column 14, while the peak compressive stress in con- numerical analysis was Lo ¼ 0:02 m. The dimensions of
crete, defined by Eq. (4) is presented in column 17 of the samples are indicated in Fig. 13. Vliet et al. [33]
Tables 3 and 4. performed four tests for each model size, in order to
assess the variability of the experimental results, which
Vu
s0 ¼ ð3Þ contain extremely relevant information. In this numeri-
0:85  b  h cal study, the outcome of five or six simulations for
Msu each model size are reported. In the simulation analy-
rsu ¼ ð4Þ
b  h2 sis, the testing conditions were reproduced as closely as
It is interesting to mention that a parallel numerical possible, including prescribed displacements of the
analysis was conducted to simulate the tests described hydraulic system of load application, with constant
above for applied loads, assumed to be linear functions rate throughout the tests. In this connection, it is
of time, rather than under the velocity controlled con- important to point out that the experimental displace-
ditions assumed above. Negligible differences in the ment rate was 0.028 lm/s, until displacements of the
values of the computed ultimate loads for the various order of 200–300 lm were reached. Such low velocity
beams were observed, but significant changes in the would require an excessively long processing time,

Fig. 5. Crack patterns in model D1: (a) before peak load is reached and (b) at time when peak.
R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125 1121

Thus, a larger displacement rate was initially used, and


further reduced down to 0.048 mm/s, rate at which the
response appeared to the independent of the loading
rate and hence representative of the quasi-static experi-
mental conditions. The mechanical properties used in
the simulation of concrete are given in Table 5.
Fig. 14 presents the failure pattern for one simula-
tion of case D. The undamaged elements are repre-
sented in black, elements within the softening region in
gray and fractured elements eliminated from the graph.
Fig. 6. Crack patterns in model D2: (a) below the maximum load,
Note that on account of the shape selected in the
(b) at the time of failure and, (c) final configuration, after failure. experimental program, rupture occurs in the central
region of the model, fact that renders the numerical
modeling of the entire testing sample unnecessary.
which with an integration step Dt ¼ 3:0  106 s was The mean value of the failure stress obtained in the
not economically feasible for the available hardware. simulation study are presented in Table 6 and Fig. 15,

Fig. 7. Crack patterns in model D3: (a) below the maximum load, (b) at the time of failure and, (c) final configuration, after failure.

Fig. 8. Crack patterns in model D4: (a) below the maximum load, (b) final configuration, after failure.

Table 3
Dimensions, loads and stresses measured in beams tested in Stuttgart and Tucumán

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Laboratory Beam L av h b As l (%) fc M/Vh Pc Failure
(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm) (mm2) (MPa) (kN)
Pu (kN) Vu s0 Msu reu rsu Mean
(kN) (MPa) (kN m) (MPa) (MPa) (MPa)
Stuttgart, D1/1 520 210 70 50 2U6 1.71 38.0 3 5.33 14.9 7.4 2.48 1.56 434 6.34
Germany D1/2 520 210 70 50 2U6 1.71 38.0 3 4.48 14.7 7.3 2.44 1.54 428 6.28 6.31
D2/1 1040 420 140 100 2U12 1.66 38.2 3 12.0 43.2 21.6 1.82 9.1 323 4.65
D2/2 1040 420 140 100 2U12 1.66 38.2 3 11.2 47.4 23.7 1.99 9.9 352 5.05 4.85
D3/1 1560 630 210 150 2U18 1.62 39.4 3 24.0 94.6 47.3 1.77 29.8 319 4.50
D3/2 1560 630 210 150 2U18 1.62 39.4 3 22.0 90.8 43.7 1.63 27.5 294 4.16 4.33
D4/1 2080 840 280 200 2U24 1.67 36.1 3 36.9 151 75.5 1.59 63.4 278 4.04
D4/2 2080 840 280 200 2U24 1.67 36.1 3 31.0 141 72.7 1.53 61.0 268 3.89 3.96
Tucumán, D1/1 520 210 70 50 2U6 1.60 37.3 3 4.67 13.8 6.9 2.3 1.45 435 5.92 –
Argentina D2/1 1040 420 140 100 2U12 1.61 37.3 3 11.4 52.5 26.3 2.21 11.0 409 5.61 –
D3/1 1560 630 210 150 2U16 1.63 37.3 3 22.9 93.1 46.6 1.74 29.4 320 4.44 –
1U12
D4/1 2080 840 280 200 3U20 1.68 37.3 3 38.0 147.5 73.8 1.55 62.0 277 3.95 –
1122 R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125

Table 4
Data for simulation analysis and computed response

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Beam L av h b As l (%) fc M/Vh Pc Failure
(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm) (mm2) (MPa) (kN)
Pu Vu s0 Msu reu rsu Mean
(kN) (kN) (MPa) (kN m) (MPa) (MPa) (MPa)
Simulation D1/1 520 210 70 50 2U6 1.60 37.3 3 6.87 13.8 6.9 2.31 1.45 – 5.06 –
D2/1 1040 420 140 100 2U12 1.61 37.3 3 8.16 51.5 25.75 2.16 10.81 – 5.51 –
D3/1 1560 630 210 150 2U16 1.63 37.3 3 25.0 91.6 45.8 1.71 28.85 – 4.36 –
D4/1 2080 840 280 200 3U20 1.68 37.3 3 34.9 145.5 72.75 1.53 61.11 – 3.87 –

Fig. 9. Crack patterns in model D1: (a) below the maximum load, (b) at the time of failure and, (c) final configuration, after failure.

Fig. 10. Crack patterns in model D2: (a) below the maximum load, (b) at the time of failure and, (c) final configuration, after failure.

which include the experimental values reported by van model representation is capable of quantifying size
Vliet et al. [33]. It may be seen that the agreement is effects due to the combined influence of materials het-
excellent, not only in terms of expected values but also erogeneity and fracture. Fig. 16 shows the reduction of
in terms of inherent variability. This global agreement the ultimate stress in concrete with a reference dimen-
confirms that the present approach may be reliably sion of the model (h, for example). Exponential
used to predict the influence of size effects on the regression models for the experimental and theoretical
response of plain or reinforced concrete structures sub- results are also indicated in the figure. The regression
jected to arbitrary loading conditions. coefficients are almost identical. Similar information in
connection with the shear stress at failure is presented
5. Comments on the predictions of size effects on in Fig. 17, while Fig. 18 shows the evolution of the
structural response ultimate load with the reference length h, for both the
tested and simulated structures. Similar behavior is
The results presented in the last two sections clearly observed in plain concrete or in mortar subjected to
show that the numerical analysis with the discrete tensile stresses, as shown in Fig. 15. The correlation
R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125 1123

Fig. 11. Cracking patterns for model D3 under applied loading: (a) before reaching the ultimate load, (b) and (c) rupture configurations.

Fig. 12. Cracking patterns for model D4 under applied loading: (a) before reaching the ultimate load, (b) rupture configurations.

Fig. 13. Dimensions of models tested by van Vliet et al. [13].

between numerical predictions and the experimental


Table 5
evidence due to Vliet et al. [33] is also excellent, both in Mechanical properties of concrete in numerical analysis
terms of expected value and standard deviation.
Property
It is germane to recall at this point that the model of
reinforced concrete structures employed in the analysis fck (MPa) 45
ftk (MPa) 4.5
does not account for bond failure of the steel rebars, or E(Ec) (N/m2) 3:5  10
for the influence of their bending stiffness, as for E(Gf) (N/m) 100.00
example, in the so-called dowel action. Moreover, slid- q (kg/m3) 2400
ing with friction along pre-existing fractures, which m 0.18
CV(Gf) 0.30
plays an important role in the unloading branch of the CV(Ec) 0.30
apparent stress–strain curve of concrete in the uniaxial Lo (m) 0.02
compression test, is expected to be characterized by a Rf 1.15
different size effect law. None of these effects is con- (E( ) and CV denote expected value and coefficient of variation,
sidered relevant in the examples presented. respectively).
1124 R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125

Table 6
Comparison of numerical simulation with experimental results: mean
and S.D. (in brackets)

Model rN (MPa) Load (kN)


DEM
DEM van Vliet [33]
B 2.83 (0.180) 2.97 (0.180) 17.0 (1.810)
C 2.78 (0.150) 2.75 (0.210) 33.3 (4.200)
D 2.31 (0.035) 2.30 (0.090) 55.5 (0.900)
E 2.16 (0.130) 2.07 (0.120) 104.0 (6.207)
F 1.88 (0.091) 1.86 (0.160) 179.0 (8.710)

Fig. 16. Relation between the ultimate compressive stress and the
size of the model.

Fig. 17. Relation between the ultimate shear stress and the size of
the model.

Fig. 14. Failure pattern for one simulation of case D.

Fig. 18. Relation between the ultimate load and the size of the
model.

6. Conclusions

It has been shown that size effects can be reliably


accounted for in the numerical determination of the
static or dynamic response of structures if (a) the het-
erogeneous nature of the materials involved and (b) the
energy dissipated by fracture, are correctly modeled.
The discrete element approach (DEM) presents for
Fig. 15. Relation between nominal failure stress and size of element. such purposes distinct advantages, shared by other
R.D. Rios, J.D. Riera / Engineering Structures 26 (2004) 1115–1125 1125

numerical methods, in relation to Continuum Mech- [16] Morquio A, Riera JD. Size and strain rate effects in the mechan-
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International Conference on Structural Mechanics in Teactor
puter implementation. In fact, it relieves the analyst Technology, Prague, Czeck Republic, August. 2003 [CD].
from the task of establishing the characteristic lengths [17] Morquio A, Riera JD. Size and strain rate effects in steel struc-
applicable to the structure, to allow the use of empiri- tures. Engineering Structures 2004;26:669–79.
cal expressions for the strength reduction with size, [18] Riera JD, Iturrioz I. Discrete elements model for evaluating
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