• Sherwan Albrifkani

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis presents the results of a numerical investigation of the whole range, large deflection behaviour of axially and rotationally restrained RC beams and interactions between beams and columns in RC frame structures exposed to fire. The dynamic explicit time integration algorithm implemented in the general finite element package ABAQUS/Explicit solver was used so as to overcome various modelling challenges including temporary instability, local failure of materials, non-convergence and long simulation time. Either load factoring or mass scaling may be used to speed up the simulation process. Validity of the proposed simulation model was checked by comparison of simulation results against relevant test results of restrained RC beams at ambient temperature and in fire. The validated ABAQUS/Explicit model was then used to conduct a comprehensive study of the effects of different levels of axial and rotational restraints on the whole range behaviour of RC beams in fire, including combined bending and compression due to restrained thermal expansion, bending failure, transition from compression to tension when catenary action develops and complete fracture of reinforcement at ultimate failure. The numerical results show that different bending failure modes (middle span sagging failure, end hogging failure due to fracture of tensile reinforcement, end hogging failure due to concrete crushing) can occur under different levels of boundary restraints. Furthermore, release of a large amount of energy during the rapid transition phase from compression to tension in a beam prevents formation of a three hinge mechanism in the beam under bending. The numerical results have also revealed that reliable catenary action develops at large deflections following bending failure only if bending failure is governed by compressive failure of concrete at the end supports whereby a continuous tension path in the beam can develop in the top reinforcement. To allow fire engineering practice to take into consideration the complex restrained RC beam behaviour in fire, a simplified calculation method has been developed and validated against the numerical simulation results. The proposed method is based on sectional analysis and meets the requirements of strain compatibility and force equilibrium. The validation study results have shown that the simplified method can satisfactorily predict the various key quantities of restrained beam axial force and beam deflection-fire exposure time relationships, with the simplified method generally giving results on the safe side. The validated explicit finite element model in ABAQUS was also used to investigate structural interactions between beams and columns within an RC frame structure with different fire exposure scenarios. When fire exposure involves beams and columns located in edge bays of a frame, catenary action cannot develop. Also due to thermal expansion of the connected beam, additional bending moments can generate in the columns. Furthermore, very large hogging moments can be induced at the beam end connected to the internal bay. It is necessary to include these bending moments when designing beams and columns under such fire conditions. Catenary action can develop in interior beams of the frame when fire exposure is in interior bays where the beams have high degrees of axial restraint.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorYong Wang (Supervisor) & Zhenjun Yang (Supervisor)


  • Catenary action
  • Restrained reinforced concrete beam
  • Reinforced concrete frame
  • Fire resistance
  • Explicit modelling

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