Post-Fire Assessment of Unbonded Post-Tensioned Concrete Slabs: Strand Deterioration and Prestress Loss

Thumbnail Image
MacLean, Kevin J. N.
Fire , Post-tensioned Concrete , Cold-drawn Prestressing Steel , Elevated Temperature
Unbonded post-tensioned concrete slabs have been widely used in Canada and the United States since the 1960s, as they allow increased span-to-depth ratios and excellent control of deflections compared to non-prestressed reinforced concrete flexural members. The satisfactory fire performance of unbonded post-tensioned concrete slabs in North America was established by a series of standard fire tests performed in the United States during the 1960s. However, there is a paucity of data on the effect of elevated temperatures on cold-drawn prestressing steel, both in terms of post-fire residual mechanical properties and high-temperature stress relaxation, which can lead to significant prestress loss both during and after a fire. A detailed and comprehensive literature review is presented that provides background on the residual mechanical properties of prestressing steel, as well as on the creep-relaxation behaviour experienced at elevated temperatures under stress. The results of two test series are discussed; the first examining the effects of elevated temperatures on the residual mechanical properties of prestressing steel exposed to elevated temperatures. The second test series examines the irrecoverable and significant loss of prestress force that results from steel relaxation and other thermal effects experienced during heating. A preliminary analytical model is presented, capable of predicting the change in prestress force experienced by a stressed strand under transient heating. The model is then compared with experimental elevated temperature relaxation data. Finally, the analytical model developed and residual mechanical properties obtained through experimentation are used along with a pre-existing finite difference heat transfer model (developed for concrete slabs) to examine the effect of elevated temperature exposure on the residual flexural capacity of a typical unbonded post-tensioned example slab. Several parameters, such as heated length and concrete cover, are examined using the example structure. From this it was observed that, after one hour of exposure to a standard fire (ASTM E119), significant losses in effective prestress and moment capacity occurred even with the appropriate amount of concrete cover. This is a finding which is of the utmost practical importance to engineers engaged in the evaluation of fire damaged unbonded post-tensioned structures.
External DOI