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Concrete-filled steel tubular (CFTS) columns

subjected to eccentric compressive load


Cite as: AIP Conference Proceedings 2060, 020004 (2019); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5086135
Published Online: 04 February 2019

Slawomir Kedziora, and Muhammad Omer Anwaar

AIP Conference Proceedings 2060, 020004 (2019); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5086135 2060, 020004

© 2019 Author(s).
Concrete-Filled Steel Tubular (CFTS) Columns Subjected to
Eccentric Compressive Load
Slawomir Kedziora 1, a) and Muhammad Omer Anwaar 1, b)
1
Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication
University of Luxembourg, Campus Kirchberg, 6 rue Coudenhove-Kalergi
L-1359 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
a)
Corresponding author: slawomir.kedziora@uni.lu
b)
muhammad-omer.anwaar@arcelormittal.com

Abstract. Concrete-steel composite structures are very efficient in carrying high loads as they combine benefits of both
materials concrete and steel. The combination of them can significantly improve the strength of the composite structure by
taking advantage of high compression resistance of concrete and high strength of steel in tension. Recently, there has been
renewed interest in the composite structures used in different forms, as beams, slabs, sandwich structures and columns and
many methods of structural analyses were utilised. However, none of them was able to eliminate concrete material when it
fractured. The presented work concerns circular composite columns CFST under eccentric compression. The principal
objective of the project was to investigate a straightforward method based on a finite element analysis employed to estimate
the load carrying capacity of columns. This study has also been set out to determine whether the Drucker-Prager material
model of concrete without a crack capability could be used for analyses of the CFST columns with the additional
elimination of the concrete material when concrete is damaged. The elaborated finite element model was verified with
existing test data from the literature. The findings show that the correlation between the test results and the numerical
analysis was excellent confirming the feasibility of usage of the proposed method for the assessment of complex cases of
the CFST columns. A new part of the work is the employment of a death element feature to eliminate concrete material,
which theoretically is not taking any load after reaching its tensile strength. A criterion to eliminate elements from the
model is the maximum principal stress greater than tensile strength. The obtained results are excellent; the established goal
was met entirely.

INTRODUCTION
Concrete-steel composite structures are very efficient in carrying high loads as they combine benefits of both these
materials concrete and steel. The combination of them can significantly improve the strength of the composite structure
by taking advantage of high compression resistance of concrete and high strength of steel in tension. Recently, there
has been renewed interest in the composite structures used in different forms, as beams, slabs, sandwich structures
and columns. The fact that each material is used to take advantage of its best attributes makes composite steel-concrete
construction very efficient and economical [1]
Several studies concerning the CFST columns have been documented in literature basing both on made tests [2],
[3] and on analytical and numerical methods. However, none of them was able to eliminate concrete material when it
fractured. The proposed approach gives this possibility for any CFST columns.
The presented work concerns circular composite columns CFST under eccentric compression. The principal
objective of this project was to investigate a straightforward method based on finite element method of estimating
the load carrying capacity of the columns. This study has also been set out to determine whether a Drucker-Prager
material model of concrete without a crack capability could be used for analyses of the CFST columns with the
additional elimination of the concrete material when concrete is fractured.

Proceedings of the 15th Stability of Structures Symposium


AIP Conf. Proc. 2060, 020004-1–020004-12; https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5086135
Published by AIP Publishing. 978-0-7354-1788-5/$30.00

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The elaborated finite element model was verified with existing test data for literature [2]. The findings show that
the correlation between the test results and the numerical analysis was excellent confirming the feasibility of usage of
the proposed method for the assessment of complex cases of the CFST columns. As results of the analysis, the
comparison between tests and the numerical analysis was shown as well as an example of the study of the CFST
column with steel rebar reinforcements, which demonstrates an application of the explained method. The findings can
contribute to a better understanding of the behaviour of the CFST columns under complex loading.

ANALYSIS METHOD

The one part of an FE analysis method is somehow a standard; the nonlinear analysis was conducted with
geometrical and material nonlinearity. The eccentric compression load was applied to a steel plate and then to the
column as a remote displacement. The columns were simply supported at both ends in a buckling plane.
The analysis employed a large-strain, and deflection approach is typical for the buckling FEA with displacement
as a load. This technique can be used to analyse global buckling of the composite columns accurately.
The problem is numerically solved using the finite element scheme. The calculations are made using the
commercial software ANSYS 19 of the finite element method with Workbench environment with some codes in
APDL (ANSYS Parametric Design Language) [4].
The solution depends on a nonlinear static analysis of the nonlinear buckling where the load is displacement, and
a response is the deflection of the column. The nonlinearity comes from the nonlinear material models: for the steel
plasticity with isotropic hardening and the concrete Drucker-Prager model and the large deflection of the column.
Besides, the frictional contacts between the concrete core and the steel elements were used. The friction coefficient
for a simulation of the interaction between the concrete and steel tubes of composite columns have been reported in
a range of 0.2 to 0.8 by different authors [5]. Within the presented project, the friction coefficient is adapted to 0.5.
Since significant deflection of the column was expected, the large deflection was also included. Taking into
account all of those facts it is clear that troublesome calculations are expected. Indeed, the model is complicated to
analyse and requires advanced experience with nonlinear FEA.
Additionally, a possibility of employment of the well-known method - birth and death of elements was tested so
as to improve quality prediction of the calculation method. The details of that method can be found in the
documentation of ANSYS [6], and shortly the technique of birth and death elements was often used in 90thies currently
it is not so popular due to the presence of new more sophisticated methods. Nevertheless, for this particular case, it
can successfully be used, and its simplicity gives benefits shown further in the text. An implementation of this method
in the presented project depends on elimination of the elements based on specific criteria; namely, if the maximum
principal stress of the concrete element is higher than the uniaxial tensile strength f t , which reflects a failure of the
concrete due tension, the elements are eliminated from the analysis. The process of elimination of the elements is
conducted as follows: a failure of an element is identified automatically from the maximum principal stress criterion
of obtained stress distribution. Hereafter, the stiffness matrix of failure element is multiplied by a small number to
lose the influence on the stiffness matrix of the entire column. Thus, the load on failure element becomes zero, and
this is called the element killing or element death. With such-and-such interactive interpolation calculation, a failure
process of the column is simulated, and the failure mode is observed.
The benefits of this approach are that the analysis method is straightforward and there are only three material
parameters of the concrete required for the analysis, plus very intuitive from the engineering point of view simplifying
studies very much. Unquestionably, there are disadvantages to that approach, and the most important is that the crack
distribution in the concrete cannot be seen.

TABLE 1. Definition of analysed columns


Column type Tube external diameter Length, Number of rebar Diameter of rebar
x thickness, mm mm rod x diameter, mm rod, mm

Column I, [2] 267x6.3 3500 None None


Column II 355.6x10 3500 18 x 255.6 20

Two types of the CFTS columns were analysed without and with rebar rods, the configuration of them can be
found in Table 1. Definition of analysed columns. The first column was used for validating the elaborated numerical
method the second type column II was employed to check a possibility of an implementation of the method for the

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composite column with the rebar. Three different load cases were taken into consideration during the analyses, namely,
the compression load with offset 10, 50, and 170 mm so to get compression and bending load. Imperfections of the
columns were not analysed for the presented work. The details - how the loads were applied - are presented further in
the text in the subchapter FEA Model.

Concrete material model


The concrete plasticity model of Drucker-Prager (DP) was employed to describe the behaviour of confined
concrete. The material model of the concrete was developed based on existing literature, and it allows to estimate
required parameters for the analysis based on compression of a concrete specimen. The model takes into account
confirming the effect – Figure 1 of the concrete and details of the model is shown below:

FIGURE 1. Compressive stress-strain relation of concrete

where:
f c - compressive strength of unconfined concrete,
f cc - compressive strength of confirmed concrete,
f cu - ultimate residual compressive strength of concrete,
 c - compressive strain in concrete at maximum stress f c ,
 cc - compressive strain in confirmed concrete at maximum stress f cc ,
 cu - compressive strain in confirmed concrete at maximum stress f cu .
The compressive strength of confirmed concrete f cc can be found using the following equation proposed in [7]:

  f rp 
0.5
f rp  
f cc  f c   1.254  2.245   1  7.94   2   (1)
 
 fc  fc  
  

where:
f rp - average radial pressure between concrete and steel tube.

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Based on the information given by standard [8], the compressive strain in concrete  c can be estimated as follows:

0.7  f cm0.31   0.7  f cm0.31   0.0028



c   (2)
 0.0028   0.7  f cm   0.0028
0.31

where:

f cm - mean value of concrete cylinder compression strength.

With experimental results [9], an empirical formula of the pressure between the steel tube and the concrete is
presented:

1.027
D 
f rp  0.3111    2   fy (3)
 t 
where:
f y - yield strength of tube steel alloy,
t – thickness of steel tube,
D – external diameter of steel tube.

The ultimate residual compressive stress, f cu based on the work [10] can be estimated as follows:

  0.1  f y 
0.1
D
 f cc      40
  fc  t
f cu   0.1
(4)
  0.1  f y    D
 1 

D
f 
 cc  f       1 1     e  40  t 
   40

  c    t

where:

t – thickness of steel tube,


D – external diameter of steel tube.

The ultimate residual compressive strain  cu can be estimated based on the work [11]

 cu  11   cc (5)

The tensile strength f t of concrete can be estimated from the equation below; the result is in MPa for f c in MPa,

f t  0.56   f c 
0.5
(6)

The biaxial compressive strength f ccb of concrete can be found on the ground of the work [12]:

f ccb  1.16  f cc (7)


The Drucker-Prager concrete model implemented in ANSYS required three material constants: the uniaxial
compressive strength, f cc , the uniaxial tensile strength, f t , and the biaxial compressive strength, f ccb .
The constants were calculated using equations: (1), (6), and (7).

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TABLE 2. ANSYS constants of Drucker-Prager concrete model
Meaning Unit Value
f cc MPa 60.9
ft MPa 4.1
f ccb MPa 70.6

TABLE 3. Strength and isotropic material properties of concrete


Material Compressive strength E modulus, Poisson’s Density,
f
(unconfined) cm
 f c , MPa
MPa Ratio tonne/mm-3

Concrete 54 36480 0.2 2.3E-09

The concrete data presented in Table 2 were employed for all analyses in the presented project. The initial numbers
come from the work [2], and then the shown estimation method was developed to get the coefficients of the Drucker-
Prager’s model.

Steel material model

The material model of the steel alloys was modelled employing isotropic hardening since significant plastic
deformation is expected. The nonlinear material curves are shown in Fig. 2, and the isotropic material data were
presented in Table 3 and Table 4.

TABLE 4. Strength and isotropic material properties of steel alloys


Steel Alloys Yield strength, E modulus, Poisson’s Density,
MPa MPa Ratio tonne/mm-3
S275JR [13] 265 210000 0.3 7.85
HRB500 [14] 630 200000 0.3 7.85
Structural Steel 272 210000 0.3 7.85

FIGURE 2. Steel materials material characteristic curves

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FEA MODEL
The numerical model was developed in the way that it can be updated automatically for new geometry. Therefore,
ANSYS Mechanical (Workbench) was selected as the primary tool for pre-processing. CAD models were created in
Autodesk Inventor 2019 and then exported to ANSYS Workbench through a direct interface. Thanks to that,
calculations of updated geometry could be done automatically after completing modelling CAD models. That
approach significantly reduced the time of the preparation of the finite element models of the columns.
As it was stated, the contacts between the concrete core and the steel tubes and the plates were defined as frictional
with the friction coefficient of 0.5. The value of fiction coefficient was defined based on the literature review.
The bonded contact was used to model a connection between the support plates and the steel tube to simulate weld
connections. The high friction coefficient required to use of an unsymmetrical solver since the stiffness matrix is
unsymmetrical that causes longer calculation time than in the case of the symmetric matrix.
The core concrete was model using first-order hex elements of the type SOLID 185; the steel tube was modelled
by quad solid-shell elements SOLSH 190 with five integration points through the thickness. The rebar was modelled
as the rebar elements REBAR 264; these elements are developed for simulation rebar in solid elements using discrete
approach and details can be found in the documentation of ANSYS. Those elements can be in compression or tension
only; they are typical rod elements. The most significant benefit of them is that software automatically connects them
with the solid elements giving enormous flexibility for modelling of the structures with the rebar.
Finally, the support plates were modelled also employing the first-order hex elements – the type SOLID 185. The
solid elements had default settings used in ANSYS 19 during calculations. The configuration of the finite element
model included element types can be found in Table 5.
The FE analyses were conducted for two thicknesses of steel tube of 6.3 mm in the case of the model validation
and 10 mm for a further investigation of the reinforced column with the rebar. The mesh of the entire column is shown
in Fig. 3, and the size of elements was kept around 25x25mm because of two reasons: to get right contact conditions
between interacting components and to get sufficient “resolution” of the concrete failure. The proposed method with
the element death requires a fine mesh of the concrete since the failure criteria are checked for each FE element, and
the element elimination is made for the particular failed element.

FIGURE 3. Example of mesh of CFST column

Boundary conditions of the column were modelled as simply supported in the bending plane whereas in a second
plane the column was fixed using the simply supported conditions with an additional fixation of rotation about the
axis X done by the elastic support of the auxiliary plates. The details of the fixation are presented in Fig. 4. The

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stiffness of the elastic supports was determined based on numerical experiments to minimise stress concentrations
caused by them. A load was applied as a displacement of the top support plate through a remote displacement feature
available in the software.

TABLE 5. Analysed components, assigned materials, and FEA element type


Component Material Thickness, ANSYS’s
mm Elements
6.3
Tube S275JR SOLSH 190
10 (with rebar)
Rebar HRB500 20 REBAR 264
Concrete Concrete NA SOLID 185
Support plates Structural Steel 25 SOLID 185

The boundary conditions configuration was developed so to reflect on real test conditions used in [2] as
a comparison between the tests and the simulation was made for a validation phase of the FEA model. Figure 4 shows
the employed boundary and load conditions reflecting as much as it can be the real test conditions.

S
FIGURE 4. Load and boundary conditions for analysed models

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


The obtained results are excellent; the established goal was met entirely. The differences between the results are
small and could be explained by defaults of the tested columns in comparison with the mathematical model. Figure 5
shows the comparison between both results, the tests and the simulation. The results were presented for three levels
of the load eccentricity: 10, 50 and 170 mm and for all of them the correlation with the test data is excellent.
Two numerical methods were used to analyse the columns with and without the birth and death elements, and both
methods give very similar results see Fig. 5 and Table 6. The method with the death of elements gives slightly lower
values of the load with an increase of the deflection of the column, but the differences are small.

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From a comparison of two group of results, test and simulation ones, it can be seen that the proposed method is
accurate to predict the maximum load capacity of the CFST columns.
Unfortunately, after reaching maximum load, the simulation is less precise, but still, it can be suitable to have
a reasonable estimation. That range of the post-buckling behaviour of the column is less critical taking into account
a practical application.
The most exciting aspect of the graphs is an excellent correlation between simulation and test data for all analysed
load eccentricity in taking into account the practical applications. The most apparent finding to emerge from the
analyses is that the developed method can be used for the prediction of the column load carrying capacity efficiently
and very accurately despite made simplifications in modelling the concrete material.

FIGURE 5. Comparisons between tests [2], [3] and simulations; CFST column I;
DP- Drucker-Prager concrete model, DP-K - concrete model with elements elimination

The same approach was used to obtain results for the composite columns with rebar; the results are shown in Fig.
6 and Table 6. For each of the columns and load configurations, two methods were used to analyse with and without
the death of elements’ feature. Those analyses aimed to prove that the method could also work for the composite
column with rebar. Unfortunately, test data are not available for that type of column. Therefore, only numerical results
are presented.

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FIGURE 6. Comparisons between tests [2], [3] and simulations; CFST column II
DP- Drucker-Prager concrete model, DP-K - concrete model with elements elimination

A comparison of the two results reveals that, as it was expected, the estimation of the procedure with the death
elements gave the slightly lower values of the carrying load capacity. It can be explained on the ground that some
elements were removed from the model causing weakness of the column. The example of that process is shown in
Fig. 7 where several elements were deactivated during the calculations due to concrete damage.

TABLE 6. Results of analysed columns


Column type Load offset, Maximum load capacity, Deflection at maximum load,
mm kN mm

DP DP-K Test DP DP-K Test


3B2 10 3741 3739 3824 7.5 7.5 11.9
Column I 3B3 50 2530 2481 2584 15.5 13.2 20.6
3B1 170 1048 956 966 19.5 17.4 23.0
4B2 10 9417 9419 18.3 18.3
Column II 4B3 50 6788 6683 29.6 26.1
4B1 170 3424 2735 45.3 29.1

One interesting finding is that the result’s discrepancy between the method with and without the elements death
feature increases with the load offset and increases even more for the case of the columns with the rebar. That can be
explained by the intensification of bending effect with the large load offset causing growth of the tension stress in the
concrete material and further the rapid elimination of the elements when the failure criteria are met. The additional
increase of the discrepancy for the column with rebar can be explained by the elimination of the rebar elements when
the surrounding concrete elements are excluded during the analyses. That effect can be proven by checking the axial
strain in the column with the largest offset. As it can be seen in Fig. 8, the total stain in those rebar rods is not available
since the elements were deactivated for the analyses.

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FIGURE 7. Lateral displacement of column II, E=170mm, for maximum load capacity

Validation of those results should be conducted based on a test of the columns so as to be sure that the obtained
results are not too conservative. Nevertheless, it could be assumed that the method with the death of the elements gives
the lower limit of the load carrying capacity of the CFST column and therefore could be used for a design purpose.
Unquestionably, further investigation must be done to validate that method for the columns with rebar and more
complex column configurations for example with a steel core.

FIGURE 8. Plastic strain in rebar elements of column II, E=170mm,


at maximum deflection of 37mm

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CONCLUSION
In this investigation, the aim was to elaborate the method of analyses of global buckling of CFST columns under
eccentric compression. The study has also been set out to determine whether the Drucker-Prager material model of
concrete without a crack capability could be used for analyses of the CFST columns and additionally whether the
feature of the death elements of the concrete could be implemented for the analyses to simulate concrete fracture due
to tension. As it was shown, the elaborated analysis method works very well giving a perfect estimation of the
maximum carrying capacity of the CFST columns. The presented test data and numerical analysis confirmed this
statement in Fig. 5 and Table 5.
The exclusion of the element according to the established criteria works amazingly well giving reasonable results.
However, further investigation is needed for the CFTS columns with different internal structures: rebar and steel cores
to determine the range of the application of this method. Primarily, the validation of the test results should be done to
see all advantages and disadvantages of the proposed method.
Nevertheless, the first results presented in this paper are auspicious taking into account engineering application of
the method.
The findings suggest that in general the simply DP model of the concrete is sufficient to assess the maximum
carrying capacity load of CFTS columns additionally enhancement can be done by implementation of the death of
elements feature.
The elaborated method with the element death feature can be used for any CFST columns with complex load
configuration, and the method has the following benefits:
 Very intuitive and required minimum data of concrete. In comparison with an analytical one proposed by EN
code [15]or FEA with cracks features in concrete, they have required complex and detail material information
or cannot be used for all columns types.
 It can be used for any CFST columns since the model of the column is done in CAD and imported directly in
ANSYS Workbench therefore parametric modelling of the column is feasible.
 Bases on the done limited validation it can be stated that the method is sufficiently precise in the prediction of
CFTS columns, but further work is needed to prove the correctness for the columns width rebar and a steel
core.
The findings in this report are subject to three principal limitations:
 First, the application of the method is limited for assessment of the maximum loads carrying capacity of the
column and analysis of the damage and collapse of the column is out of the range of that method.
 Second, sophisticated FEA software and a computer with sufficient computational power to make the
estimation process efficient is required for the analysis.
 Third, prediction precision of the method depends on the size of elements, and this aspect should be
investigated further to give an analysis guideline.

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