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Low-cycle fatigue in steel H-piles of integral bridges; a comparative study of experimental testing and finite element simulation

2020-01-10
Karalar, Memduh
Dicleli, Murat
Integral abutment bridges (IABs) are those bridges without expansion joints. A single row of steel H-piles (SHPs) is commonly used at the thin and stub abutments of IABs to form a flexible support system at the bridge ends to accommodate thermal-induced displacement of the bridge. Consequently, as the IAB expands and contracts due to temperature variations, the SHPs supporting the abutments are subjected to cyclic lateral (longitudinal) displacements, which may eventually lead to low-cycle fatigue (LCF) failure of the piles. In this paper, the potential of using finite element (FE) modeling techniques to estimate the LCF life of SHPs commonly used in IABs is investigated. For this purpose, first, experimental tests are conducted on several SHP specimens to determine their LCF life under thermal-induced cyclic flexural strains. In the experimental tests, the specimens are subjected to longitudinal displacements (or flexural strain cycles) with various amplitudes in the absence and presence of a typical axial load. Next, nonlinear FE models of the tested SHP specimens are developed using the computer program ANSYS to investigate the possibility of using such numerical models to predict the LCF life of SHPs commonly used in IABs. The comparison of FE analysis results with the experimental test results revealed that the FE analysis results are in close agreement with the experimental test results. Thus, FE modeling techniques similar to that used in this research study may be used to predict the LCF life of SHP commonly used in IABs.