Modelling of tension-stiffening in bending RC elements based on equivalent stiffness of the rebar

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The contribution of tensioned concrete between cracks (tension-stiffening) cannot be ignored when analysing deformation of reinforced concrete elements. The tension-stiffening effect is crucial when it comes to adequately estimating the load-deformation response of steel reinforced concrete and the more recently appeared fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) reinforced concrete. This paper presents a unified methodology for numerical modelling of the tension-stiffening effect in steel as well as FRP reinforced flexural members using the concept of equivalent deformation modulus and the smeared crack approach to obtain a modified stress-strain relation of the reinforcement. A closed-form solution for the equivalent secant modulus of deformation of the tensioned reinforcement is proposed for rectangular sections taking the Eurocode 2 curvature prediction technique as the reference. Using equations based on general principles of structural mechanics, the main influencing parameters are obtained. It is found that the ratio between the equivalent stiffness and the initial stiffness basically depends on the product of the modular ratio and reinforcement ratio (nρ), the effective-to-total depth ratio (d/h), and the level of loading. The proposed methodology is adequate for numerical modelling of tension-stiffening for different FRP and steel reinforcement, under both service and ultimate conditions. Comparison of the predicted and experimental data obtained by the authors indicates that the proposed methodology is capable to adequately model the tension-stiffening effect in beams reinforced with FRP or steel bars within wide range of loading ​
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