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International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)

Finite Element Analysis of Reinforced and Pre-Tensioned

Concrete Beams
Nimiya Rose Joshuva1, S. Saibabu2, P. Eapen Sakaria3, K. N. Lakshmikandhan4, P. Sivakumar5
M.Tech Student, 3Head of Department, Department of Civil Engineering, SAINTGITS College of Engineering, Kottayam,
Kerala, India
Sr. Principal Scientist, 4Scientist, 5Chief Scientist, CSIR-SERC, Chennai, India
Abstract— Concrete is strong in compression but weak in The use of computer software to model the elements has
tension. Reinforced concrete, in which steel rods are provided been proved to be convenient, faster and extremely cost-
to resist tensile stresses, however, does not meet the effective compared to experimental analyses. This study
satisfactory structural demands. The concept of prestressing presents an analytical investigation of the nonlinear
was introduced to generate compressive stresses in concrete
behaviour of reinforced and pre-tensioned concrete beams
prior to loading, by means of prestressing tendons inserted in
the member. These compressive stresses resist the tensile in the finite element software package ANSYS 12.0.
forces, thereby effectively increasing the tensile strength of the
concrete member. In this study, reinforced and pre-tensioned II. LITERATURE REVIEW
concrete beams are analysed for their nonlinear behaviour Literature survey was carried out to comprehend the
under external loading using the finite element method of
nonlinear behaviour of reinforced and prestressed concrete
analysis. ANSYS 12.0, an efficient finite element software
package, is used for the analysis of the concrete members. beams and the applicability of the finite element software
Load-deflection responses, variations of stresses in concrete packages in simulating the nonlinear behaviour of the
and steel and the crack patterns at critical stages of loading beams. Barbosa and Rebeiro, (1998) considered the
are studied. The numerical predictions are compared to the practical application of nonlinear models in the analysis of
data obtained using the theories of structural analysis. In reinforced concrete structures and the consequences of
comparison to the theoretically predicted data, the numerical small changes in modelling. The best results were obtained
method of analysis using ANSYS was seen to satisfactorily from the elastoplastic-perfectly plastic, work-hardening
predict the behavioural responses of the beams up to ultimate, models that reached ultimate loads, very close to the
but was not as effective in predicting the strain variation in
predicted values. It was also concluded that the highest
the prestressing tendons.
analysis loads could be considered as the ultimate loads of
Keywords— finite element analysis, prestressed concrete the models and the actual beams. Revathi and Menon,
beams, reinforced concrete beams. (2005) conducted finite element and experimental studies
on under-reinforced, over-reinforced and shear test beams
I. INTRODUCTION in ANSYS, to validate the potential of numerical
simulation in predicting the nonlinear response of the
The efficient application of concrete structures requires
elements. The numerical and test results were seen to
an understanding of their response to a variety of loadings.
compare well. The ductile behaviour of under-reinforced
There are a number of approaches for the study of the
beams and the brittle mode of failure in the over-reinforced
behaviour of concrete structures, viz., experimental,
and shear beams were produced well by the numerical
numerical, theoretical, etc. Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
model. The crack patterns of the specimens were also seen
is a numerical one which provides a tool that can accurately
to be in good correlation with the patterns obtained from
simulate the behaviour of concrete structures. Finite
the numerical analysis. The study recommended the use of
Element Analysis, as used in structural engineering,
convergence criteria in terms of force to get more reliable
determines the overall behaviour of the structure by
and accurate results. Dahmani, Khennane,, (2010)
dividing it into a number of simple elements, each of which
conducted an investigation into the applicability of ANSYS
has well-defined mechanical and physical properties. A
software for analysis and prediction of crack patterns in RC
number of commercial finite element analysis codes are
beams and the advantage of performing numerical
simulation instead of experimental tests. For this purpose,
Hypermesh, etc.) for the analytical study of structures.
different phases of the behaviour of the FE model of an RC
beam was studied from initial cracking to failure of the
International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
The entire load-deformation response produced In the finite element modelling of the beam, concrete,
correlated well with the hand-calculated results and it was steel support and loading plates and the steel reinforcing
inferred that failure model of concrete adopted by ANSYS bars were represented using SOLID65, SOLID45 and
was adequate to determine the nonlinear response of LINK8 elements respectively. Shear reinforcements were
reinforced concrete structures. Fanning, (2001) studied the neglected. The SOLID65 element required linear isotropic
experimental load-deflection response of ordinary and multilinear isotropic material properties to be defined.
reinforced concrete beams and post-tensioned concrete T- Table I summarises the material properties assumed for
beams and used it to assess the suitability of numerical reinforced concrete.
modelling implemented in the FE software ANSYS, in Table I
predicting the ultimate response of RC beams. The Material Properties Of Concrete
correlation of test and numerical data was found to depend
on the values of linear and nonlinear material properties Density of concrete 2.5485 x 10-6 kg/mm3
assigned to the materials, most importantly the Young’s Modulus of Elasticity 25000 N/mm2
modulus of elasticity of concrete and the yield strengths of
the reinforcing bars and the post-tensioning tendons. Uniaxial cracking stress 3.5 N/mm2
Anthony J. Wolanski, (2004) in his thesis work, studied
reinforced and prestressed concrete beams using Finite Poisson’s Ratio 0.2
Element Analysis (FEA) to understand their load-
deformation response. The results were compared to Open shear transfer 0.3
experimental data. Characteristic points on the load- coefficient
deformation curve predicted using FEA were then Closed shear transfer 1
compared to theoretical results. The nonlinear analysis of coefficient
the model yielded results that compared well to the Uniaxial crushing stress -1
calculated values. Bursting was also seen to occur in
concrete at the area of prestressing where maximum stress Biaxial crushing stress 0
and localised cracking were observed. It was concluded
Hydrostatic pressure 0
from the work that the failure mechanism of the beams
could be modelled well using the finite element package. Hydrostatic biaxial 0
crushing stress
The RC beam of concrete grade M25 is 150mm x crushing stress
300mm in cross-section and simply supported over a span Tensile crack factor 0.6
of 3m. The beam is loaded symmetrically at third points
along its span. Internal longitudinal reinforcement consists
The compressive uniaxial stress-strain relationship for
of two numbers of 20mm diameter Fe415 bars placed at an
concrete was obtained using the equations developed by
effective cover of 25mm. Two-legged 8mm diameter
MacGregor (1992). Fig. 2 represents the stress-strain
Fe415 stirrups are provided at a spacing of 50mm c/c as
relationship of reinforced concrete. The steel plates were
shear reinforcement. The hangar bars have a diameter of
modelled as linear isotropic materials with modulus of
10mm and are placed at a cover of 25mm. Fig. 1 shows the
elasticity of steel (2 x 105 N/mm2) and Poisson’s ratio (0.3).
dimensional details of the RC beam.
The reinforcing steel was assumed to have bilinear
isotropic properties with yield stress of 415 N/mm2 and
hardening modulus 20 N/mm2. Linear isotropic properties
of the steel rebars were the same as that of the steel plates.

Fig. 1 Dimensional Details Of The Reinforced Concrete Beam

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
Therefore, it was concluded that failure of the beam had
taken place and 119.58kN was taken as the failure load for
the model.
The first crack in the FE model was a flexural crack
(vertical) in the constant moment region of the beam,
formed at 18.8025kN. The deflections and stresses in the
beam were seen to increase with loading. Cracking also
progressed consequentially and was observed to increase in
the constant moment region before it spread out towards
the supports in the form of diagonal cracks. The beam was
seen to fail due to excessive cracking of concrete in the
tension side. Therefore, failure of the beam was attributed
to flexural failure and yielding of the steel reinforcement.
Fig. 2 Stress-Strain Relationship Of Concrete The ultimate mid-span deflection of the model was 20mm
The beam and steel plates were modelled using separate at 119.58kN. The numerical crack and stress distributions
volumes. The beam was meshed such that it consisted of at ultimate load are illustrated in Fig. 4.
square or rectangular elements of size 25mm. The
necessary mesh attributes were set before the volumes were
meshed. Fig. 3 shows the meshed beam in ANSYS.
Merging of nodes and key points were carried out to avoid
errors due to multiple nodes at the same location. The Fig. 4 Crack Distribution In The Beam At Failure
longitudinal reinforcement bars were then modelled by Using the data obtained from the numerical analysis of
creating individual link elements through the nodes of the the beam, mid-span deflection, compressive stress in
concrete volume mesh at the desired depth after setting the concrete and stress in the reinforcing steel were plotted
rebar element attributes. The supports were modelled such against the applied load and compared with theoretical
that roller and hinged supports were created at either ends computations of the same. From Fig. 5, it is seen that the
of the beam. Self–weight of the concrete beam was taken ANSYS model has captured the entire load-deflection
into account by providing the value of acceleration due to response of the beam from zero loads up to failure. The
gravity (9.81m/s2). The external loads were applied as curve exhibits three approximately straight segments
concentrated forces distributed equally among the nodes reflecting three different stages during the loading process.
forming the centre line of the two loading plates located at The initial linear portion of the curve represents the elastic
third points along the span. uncracked region where the numerical and theoretical
results are seen to compare well. The sudden change in
linearity represents commencement of cracking in the
beam. The initial cracking load, obtained as 20.65kN from
the finite element analysis and 20.16kN from the structural
analysis of the beam, also show good agreement in values.
The nonlinear region that follows represents the behaviour
of the beam in the cracked stage, where cracking
propagates throughout the constant moment region,
Fig. 3 Meshed Beam reducing the stiffness of the section. The effective concrete
For the analysis of the model, the static analysis type area thus decreases and the steel reinforcement bears the
was utilized. Prestress effects were not considered and the tensile stresses developed. This leads to a faster rate of
analysis was carried out for ‘Small Displacement Static’ increase of deflections with applied load. The theoretical
condition. The rest of the commands were set to ANSYS curve in this region is observed to deviate from the ANSYS
defaults. The beam was analysed with its self-weight and curve. The transition from the second stage to the third
the loads in one load step. The analysis was seen to stage marks the start of yielding of reinforcement.
terminate at the sub step corresponding to 119.58kN due to
non-convergence of solution.

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
Classical reinforced concrete theory predicted the
yielding to commence at 115.3kN which is observed to be
consistent with the change in slope of the numerical curve
at 116.77kN. The finite element model was assumed to fail
in flexure shortly after yielding of steel due to excessive
cracking in the beam at a load of 119.58kN producing an
ultimate deflection of 20.3mm.

Fig. 6 Load Vs Compressive Stress In Concrete

Fig. 5 Load Vs Mid-Span Deflection

Fig. 6 shows a plot between the applied load and stress

in the extreme concrete fibre under compression. The
theoretical computation of compressive stress in the top
concrete fibre was carried out only up to initial cracking in
the beam owing to lack of formulations that accounted for
the reduction in effectiveness of the section due to
cracking. In the uncracked stage, the theoretical and Fig. 7 Load Vs Stress In Reinforcing Steel
ANSYS curves are seen to compare well. The numerical
curve beyond that stage represents nonlinear variation of IV. ANALYSIS OF PRE-TENSIONED CONCRETE BEAM
stress with load with an ultimate compressive stress value
of 25.08N/mm2 in concrete at failure. The pre-tensioned concrete beam of grade M40 is
The variation of steel stress with applied load is 150mm x 300mm in cross-section with a simply supported
represented in Fig. 7. The plot shows good agreement span of 3m and loaded symmetrically at third points along
between the analytical values and the results from the span. Internal prestressing is provided through two
theoretical computations. Stress in the tensile reinforcement numbers of straight, 7 ply 12.7mm diameter prestressing
increases linearly with load, at a faster rate beyond initial strands placed at an eccentricity of 100mm and tensioned to
cracking of the beam compared to that in the uncracked 80kN each. Internal longitudinal reinforcement consists of
stage. The theoretical computation of steel stress was two numbers of 8mm diameter Fe415 bars placed at 25mm
terminated at yield stress of steel (415N/mm2) due to the from the soffit of the beam. Two-legged 8mm diameter
lack of means to compute the stress beyond yielding of Fe415 stirrups are provided at a spacing of 150mm c/c as
steel. The ultimate value of steel stress at failure of the shear reinforcement. The hangar bars have a diameter of
beam was observed to be 419.76N/mm2 from the finite 8mm and are placed at an effective cover of 25mm. Fig. 8
element analysis. shows the dimensional details of the beam.

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
The stress-strain curve for prestressing steel was
developed using the following equations (Anthony J.
Wolanski, 2004).
εps ≤ 0.008 : fps = 28000εps (ksi)

εps > 0.008 : fps = 268 - <0.98fpu (ksi)

Fig. 8 Dimensional Details Of The Pre-Tensioned Concrete Beam
Where fpu is the ultimate strength of the prestressing
Finite element model for the analysis of the pre- tendons, taken as 1771.58N/mm2 or 256.974ksi. The values
tensioned concrete beam is very similar to the RC beam obtained in units of ksi were then converted to SI units and
model. Numerical modelling was carried out neglecting the used for the analysis. Fig. 10 shows the stress-strain
tensile and shear reinforcements. The initial effective strain relationship for the prestressing strands.
of 0.0035328 was entered in the Real Constant set for the
prestressing strands in addition to the cross-sectional area.
Table II lists the material properties of the prestressed

Table II
Material Properties Of Prestressed Concrete

Density of concrete 2.3955 x 10-6 kg/mm3

Modulus of elasticity 36049.965 N/mm2
Uniaxial cracking stress 4.427 N/mm2

Poisson’s Ratio 0.2

Fig. 9 Stress-Strain Curve For Prestressed Concrete
Open shear transfer 0.3
Closed shear transfer 1
Uniaxial crushing stress -1
Biaxial crushing stress 0
Hydrostatic pressure 0
Hydrostatic biaxial 0
crushing stress
Hydrostatic uniaxial 0
crushing stress
Tensile crack factor 0.6 Fig. 10 Stress-Strain Curve For Prestressing Steel

For the analysis of the model, prestress effects were

The stress-strain relationship of concrete was obtained included and the analysis was carried out in a number of
using the equations developed by MacGregor (1992) and is load steps as listed in Table III. The analysis was seen to
shown in Fig. 9. Modulus of elasticity for the type of terminate at the sub step corresponding to 143.6kN due to
strands used in the analysis was taken as 195000MPa as non-convergence of solutions. Hence, it was concluded that
specified in IS 1343:1980 and Poisson’s Ratio as 0.3. failure of the beam had taken place at 143.6kN.

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
Table III Failure of the beam at 143.6kN produced an ultimate
Load Steps For The Analysis Of Pre-Tensioned Beam mid-span deflection of 39.63mm. The crack distribution in
Beginning Time Load Number Load the beam at failure is illustrated in Fig. 11.
Time (N) at the Step of Sub Increment
End of steps (N)
Step Fig. 11 Crack Distribution In The Beam At Failure
From the numerical study carried out, the response of the
beam to loading in terms of deflection, compressive stress
0 1 1 1 Prestress in the extreme concrete fibre and steel strains was
1 2 2 1 Self-

2 36600 3 2 18300

36600 56000 4 2 9700

56000 58000 5 50 40

58000 80000 6 100 220

80000 100000 7 100 200

100000 120000 8 100 200

120000 140000 9 100 200

Fig. 12 Load Vs Mid-Span Deflection

140000 143600 10 60 60 Fig. 12 shows the load-deflection response of the beam.

The FE analysis is seen to predict the entire behaviour of
the beam up to failure, the results closely related to the
Camber in the beam at the mid-span section due to theoretically predicted values. Initially, the beam deflection
application of prestress was observed to be 1.042mm. As increases linearly with the applied load. On appearance of
the load was increased, tensile stresses were induced in the flexural cracks at approximately 25% of the ultimate load,
bottom concrete fibres due to development of bending the beam stiffness is reduced after which the deflections
stresses. A stage was reached when the compressive stress again increase linearly, but at a faster rate. This continues
in concrete at the soffit was balanced by the flexural tensile till yielding of the internal reinforcement at approximately
stresses so that the net stress was zero. The load at this 119.7kN as predicted by the theoretical analysis. After the
stage is called decompression load and was observed to be section becomes sufficiently plasticized, the deflection
36.6kN. With further increase in load, the tensile stresses at increases substantially with very small increase in load.
the soffit of the beam increased. At a load of 57.72kN, the The beam shows considerable ductility at ultimate after
tensile stress approximately equalled the flexural strength which it was observed to fail in flexure due to excessive
of concrete and flexural (vertical) cracking was observed to cracking of concrete and yielding of tension steel
commence in the constant moment region of the numerical producing an ultimate deflection of 38.54mm.
model. As the loading on the beam progressed, vertical The variation of compressive stress at the top concrete
cracking was seen to propagate throughout the flexure zone fibre at mid-span section with load is shown in Fig. 13. The
and subsequently towards the supports in the form of theoretical computations were carried out only in the
diagonal cracks. Later, multiple cracking was also observed uncracked stage where the linear curve was seen to
at the same location. compare well with the numerical results.
International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
The numerical curve, after commencement of cracking V. COMPARISON OF REINFORCED AND PRE-TENSIONED
in the beam, was seen to follow a highly nonlinear profile CONCRETE BEAMS
till failure of the beam at which the compressive stress in Fig. 15 shows the load-deflection responses of the
concrete was noted to be 40.93N/mm2. reinforced and pre-tensioned concrete beams predicted
using finite element analysis. The numerical models were
seen to be capable of producing the entire load-deflection
behaviour of the beams till failure. The reinforced concrete
beam model produced a linear curve till a load of 18.8kN
after which it cracked. The linear portion of the curve for
the pre-tensioned concrete beam extended to 57.72kN,
providing a much higher service load range. This is
attributed to the pre-compression applied to concrete which
in turn effected in increased service load capacity. Both the
beam types exhibited sudden increase in deflections beyond
initial cracking, up to 1.6mm approximately. This was
followed by a nearly linear portion again where the pre-
tensioned concrete beam was observed to register a higher
rate of increase of deflections compared to the reinforced
concrete beam. A sudden change of slope followed by a
Fig. 13 Load Vs Compressive Stress In Concrete
nonlinear curve in the response of the reinforced concrete
beam indicated yielding of the steel reinforcement to
The strain in the prestressing strands exhibited commence at a load of 116.77kN whereas this was not as
approximately bilinear variation with load, the rate faster pronounced in the case of pre-tensioned concrete beam
after the onset of cracking. The theoretical and numerical which showed more ductility. Both the beams failed in
predictions compared almost well up to steel yielding load. flexure due to yielding of steel and excessive cracking in
The numerical prediction of steel strain extended up to the tension zone. The pre-tensioned concrete beam
failure load where the ultimate strain was obtained as produced a higher ultimate load capacity of 143.54kN in
0.0089. However, it was noticed that the FE model comparison to 119.58kN of the RC beam.
produced an initial effective strain value of 0.00336, a
value lower than the applied effective prestrain of
0.0035328, the reason for which is unclear. Fig. 14 shows
the plot of load vs strain in the prestressing strands.

Fig. 15 Load Vs Mid-Span Deflection

The comparison of the numerical prediction of the

variation of compressive stress in the extreme concrete
fibres at the mid-span section, in the reinforced and pre-
tensioned concrete beams is shown in Fig. 16. The curves
Fig. 14 Load Vs Strain In Prestressing Strands represent linear variation of stresses up to commencement
of cracking.

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
The curves, beyond the stage of initial cracking, are seen VI. CONCLUSIONS
to show uneven increase in stress which reaches an ultimate In the present study, the response of reinforced and pre-
of 25.08N/mm2 for the RC beam and 40.5N/mm2 for the tensioned concrete beams to vertical loading was
pre-tensioned concrete beam. The correctness of the curves investigated using the finite element software package
cannot be assured as the beams have been modelled under a ANSYS 12.0. The load-deflection response, variations of
number of approximations. Fine tuning the model can stresses in concrete and strains in the steel reinforcements
result in better solutions. and prestressing tendons with increasing loads were
evaluated and compared to theoretical data obtained using
the theories of structural analysis. In comparison to the
theoretically predicted data, the numerical method of
analysis using ANSYS was seen to satisfactorily predict the
behavioural responses of the beams up to failure. However,
a discrepancy was observed in the initial value of effective
prestrain in the tendons predicted by the numerical
analysis, the reason for which is unclear. The variation of
compressive stress in concrete beyond the stage of initial
cracking could not be estimated using the theories of
structural analysis owing to the absence of formulations
that took into account the decreasing effectiveness of the
section in the cracked stage. On comparing the behaviour
of the RC beam with that of the prestressed concrete beam,
the advantage of prestressing was verified as the
Fig. 16 Load Vs. Compressive Stress In Concrete
prestressed concrete beam was seen to show a higher
Fig. 17 depicts the variation in steel strain in the bonded service load range and higher ultimate load capacity.
reinforcement with the applied load. The prestressing
tendons show an initial effective stain of 0.00335. From the Acknowledgement
figure, the curves for both the beam types are observed to The paper is published with the permission of the
have similar bilinear profiles. The curves show a small rate Director, CSIR-SERC, Chennai, India. The help rendered
of strain increase in the uncracked, elastic region. The rate by Shri. K. Saravana Kumar, Scientist is acknowledged.
of strain increase, however, rapidly develops in the
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Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014)
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