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Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321

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Journal of Constructional Steel Research

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Full-scale long-term experiments of simply supported composite beams with

solid slabs
Safat Al-deen a , Gianluca Ranzi a, , Zora Vrcelj b
School of Civil Engineering, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

article info abstract

Article history: This paper presents an experimental study aimed at the evaluation of the long-term behaviour of
Received 2 July 2010 composite steelconcrete beams designed with partial shear connection formed by a steel joist and a
Accepted 5 November 2010 solid concrete slab. Three full-scale simply supported beams with identical spans and cross-sections were
prepared and tested. These specimens were designed as secondary beams of a typical composite flooring
Keywords: system based on Australian guidelines with the lowest permitted level of degree of shear connection of
Composite beam
0.5. They were cast simultaneously to enable comparisons with respect to pouring and loading conditions.
Partial shear interaction
One beam was cast un-propped and was kept unloaded for the whole duration of the long-term tests to
Shrinkage measure shrinkage effects. The remaining two beams, cast under un-propped and propped conditions,
Serviceability respectively, were subjected to a sustained uniformly distributed load. Standard short-term and long-
term tests were carried out to obtain the relevant material properties of both the steel and the concrete.
Short-term and long-term push-out tests were carried out to obtain information on the response of
the shear connectors. The experimental results were modelled by means of the finite element method.
The time-dependent behaviour was depicted using a step-by-step procedure, while the steel joist and
reinforcement were assumed to remain linear elastic. Two constitutive relationships were adopted for
the shear connection, i.e., a linear-elastic one, and a new time-dependent one, to account for the long-
term effects produced in the complex stress state of the concrete surrounding the shear connectors. The
latter representation is intended to fall within the framework of simplified approaches suitable for design
applications. Considerations of the accuracy of the numerical predictions are presented based on the two
shear connection models.
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction dynamic responses. This paper is concerned with the case in

which the serviceability limit state governs the design due to
Composite steelconcrete beams represent an economical excessive deflections, which occur due to creep and shrinkage of
structural solution for building and bridge applications. The the concrete. When dealing with the time-dependent behaviour
composite action is provided by the presence of mechanical of concrete, there are two main factors to be addressed: (i) the
devices. These are commonly specified in the form of shear definition of adequate constitutive relationships (i.e., a material
connectors, which are welded to the top flange of the steel joist property problem); and (ii) the use of methods of analysis capable
and embedded in the concrete slab during casting. This structural of handling the structural response over time (i.e., a structural
solution is efficient when subjected to sagging moments, taking analysis problem) [1,2].
advantage of the ability of concrete and steel to perform well in Early work on the modelling of composite beams highlighted
compression and tension, respectively. the importance of accounting for the deformability of the shear
Modern building construction adopted in Australia tends to connectors within the framework of partial interaction theory;
produce design solutions in which serviceability is often the see, e.g., [3]. This initial formulation is usually referred to as the
governing limit state in composite floor systems, either due to Newmark model. Since then, extensive work has been carried out
excessive total or incremental deflections, or due to undesired relying on this model or extending its applicability. For example,
some of these studies have focussed on the linear-elastic response
of composite beamcolumns (e.g., [46]), the shear deformability

Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 2 9351 5215; fax: +61 2 9351 3343. of the steel joist (e.g., [7,8]), the derivation of analytical and
E-mail addresses:, numerical models to predict the time-dependent behaviour of
(G. Ranzi). composite members (e.g., [913]) and related finite element (FE)
0143-974X/$ see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321 309

Fig. 1. Details of the cross-section and of the beam layout for CB1, CB2 and CB3.

CB3, respectively, were designed in accordance with Australian

guidelines [46]. Their steel section and slab geometry were
determined based on an extensive parametric study carried out
on typical Australian composite floor systems, varying member
dimensions, and using a degree of partial shear connection
of 0.5, as favoured in modern design. The selected cross-
section is representative of a typical 8 m long secondary beam
spaced at 2.8 m with a slab thickness of 125 mm (Fig. 1). A
310UB40 Australian standard open section was used for the
steel joist. 19 mm diameter headed studs were installed at a
spacing of 500 mm (Fig. 1). The height of the shear connectors
after installation was 95 mm. Four layers of Australian N12
reinforcement at 200 mm spacing were placed with a cover of
25 mm (Fig. 1). The detailing adopted reflects common Australian
Fig. 2. Location of dial gauges for deflection and slip readings. practice.

or direct stiffness implementations (e.g., [1420]), formulations to 2.2. Instrumentation

account for shear-lag effects (e.g., [21,22]) and their FE applications
(e.g., [14,23]), nonlinear material properties (e.g., [2428]), the All specimens were heavily instrumented to maximise the
nonlinear response in hogging moment regions (e.g., [29,30]), information gained from these experiments. Dial gauges were
the occurrence of vertical separation between the slab and steel used for deflection and slip readings, while the strain values were
joist (e.g., [31]), the behaviour of timber composite solutions measured using strain gauges and Demec targets. The deflections
(e.g., [32,33]), making use of thermal prestressing (e.g., [34]), the were monitored at the quarter points of the beams (Fig. 2)
derivation of analytical models for the partial interaction analysis using dial gauges labelled as DG-1, DG-2 and DG-3. The relative
of multi-layered members (e.g., [35,36]), and the buckling or longitudinal movement between concrete and steel was measured
using six dial gauges at the beams ends (i.e., end slip) and at the
nonlinear geometric composite response (e.g., [4,3638]).
locations of the last two connectors near the supports (Fig. 2).
Despite the extensive analytical and numerical work carried out
These were labelled as SL-1 and SL-6 for the end slip readings and
in the last two decades on the long-term behaviour of composite
as SL-2 to SL-5 for the remaining ones. The strain readings were
members, only very limited benchmarking experimental data are
monitored at three cross-sections along the beam length located
currently available in the literature [3944]. In this context, this
at its quarter points. Considering the likelihood of strain gauges to
paper aims at providing new long-term experimental data to be
become unstable over time, strain gauges and Demec targets were
used for benchmarking purposes. A companion paper describes
placed at each strain measurement point. Their arrangements at
the ultimate tests of these samples to evaluate the influence
the three monitored cross-sections are shown in Fig. 3.
of time effects on its ultimate response [45]. Three full-scale
composite members were designed and prepared in accordance
with Australian guidelines [46], therefore possessing realistic 2.3. Long-term testing procedure
dimensions for both the concrete slab and the steel beam. A
CB1 and CB2 were cast using un-propped construction to ensure
0.5 degree of shear connection was adopted to reflect modern
the self-weight of the joist (0.4 kN/m) and slab (6 kN/m) to
trends in which lower values are commonly specified in building
be carried by the steel alone, therefore enabling the hardened
applications. A new casting arrangement was developed as part
concrete to be subjected to shrinkage only. With this approach, it
of this study, with the scope of isolating the effects of creep
was assumed that no creep developed in the concrete slab due to
and shrinkage in the long-term beam tests. For the first time,
the self-weight of the composite beam. The significance to support
a push-out steelconcrete sample was subjected to a sustained
industry practice in carrying out experimental work using un-
load and its deformations were monitored over time. To account
propped construction was highlighted in [47]. In this study, this
for the time-dependent behaviour of the shear connection, a new
was achieved using a specifically designed steel framing system to
constitutive relationship is proposed for the interface response.
support the timber formwork and wet concrete from the web of
After the description of the experiments, the measured results are
the joist, as depicted in Fig. 4. The details of the steel frame are
compared against those calculated numerically using the finite
provided in Fig. 5(a). With this approach, the timber joists were
element method.
removed once the concrete hardened, after which the steel frames
were easily unbolted from the steel joist and taken off from the
2. Experimental programme specimen. This process was possible thanks to the use of a packing
system consisting of thin steel plates of 11.5 mm thickness placed
2.1. Test specimens between the timber joists and supporting steel frames. During their
placement, these plates were greased on both their top and bottom
Three identical simply supported composite beams were sides. Before removing the timber joists, these plates were taken
prepared and tested as part of this experimental programme. off from the supporting system. The vertical legs of these thin
These specimens, referred throughout this paper as CB1, CB2 and C-shaped plates (Fig. 5(b)) provided the necessary grip to allow
310 S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321

(a) Cross-section at mid-span. (b) Cross-sections at first and third quarter span.

Fig. 3. Strain measurements at quarter points along the beam.

steel frame supporting the

formwork and connected to
the web of the steel joist

support block

steel joist

(a) Schematic.

(b) Steel frame.

Fig. 4. Steel framing system to support the timber formwork and the wet concrete from the steel joist for un-propped construction.

splice connection

supporting frame frame side 1
side 2

formwork end plate
packing steel joist connection
to web
(a) Cross-sectional schematic. (b) Details of the packing system used between timber joists and supporting
steel frames.

Fig. 5. Details and geometry of the steel frames to achieve un-propped construction.

their removal. This process enabled one to free the timber joists after this could the timber joists be removed. Without the use
from the load induced by the self-weight of the concrete, and only of this packing system, the removal of the timber joists would
S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321 311

concrete blocks

frame of the
concrete blocks

(a) Schematic.

(b) Loading layout.

Fig. 6. Sustained external load applied using concrete blocks.

Table 1 Table 2
Summary of construction methods and loading conditions for beams CB1, CB2 and Summary of concrete strength measured from cylinder tests at 29 days from casting.
Cylinder test Concrete strength (MPa) Average concrete strength (MPa)
Beam Construction Sustained self-weight Sustained external load
method (No/Yes) (kN/m) CC1 27.6
CC2 27.8
CB1 Un-propped No 0
CB2 Un-propped No 13.4
CB3 Propped Yes 13.4 The external sustained load was applied using 12 concrete
blocks with dimensions 1200 mm 1200 mm 280 mm arranged
have been extremely difficult, if not prevented, by the hardened in four groups (Fig. 6). The supporting frame of each group of blocks
concrete. had four legs, producing a total of 16 point loads over the whole
CB1 was kept unloaded for the whole duration of the long- member length, representative of a uniformly distributed load
term experiments to measure the effects of shrinkage. At 29 days (Fig. 7). With this load arrangement, no direct pressure was applied
after the concrete pour, a sustained external load, equivalent to over the connector, which has been shown in [48] to be important
13.4 kN/m, was applied to CB2 by placing concrete blocks on the when testing beams formed with deep trapezoidal sheeting.
slab of the specimen. Consequently, its long-term behaviour was
affected by shrinkage and by creep due to the sustained external 2.4. Material properties
load. CB3 was poured under propped conditions. The props were
removed just before applying the external sustained load (identical
2.4.1. Instantaneous concrete properties
to CB2) at 29 days. In the case of CB3, the self-weight and the
external sustained load were resisted by the whole composite Two concrete cylinder tests, referred to as CC1 and CC2, were
member. A summary of the construction methodologies and of the carried out at 29 days. A summary of the results is reported in
sustained loads resisted by the specimens during the long-term Table 2, and the stressstrain curves are shown in Fig. 8. The
tests is provided in Table 1. cylinders were 300 mm high with a diameter of 150 mm. The
Before pouring, the top flanges of the steel beams were greased elastic modulus was 25 500 MPa.
thoroughly to minimise the possible occurrence of bonding
between concrete and steel. The external sustained loads were 2.4.2. Concrete shrinkage
removed after 461 and 222 days from casting for CB2 and CB3, The free shrinkage of the concrete was observed using three
respectively. concrete cylinders (with diameter 150 mm and height 300 mm)
312 S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321

Fig. 7. Layout of point loads produced by the supporting frames of the concrete block.

Fig. 10. Total deformation measured on the concrete cylinders under sustained
Fig. 8. Concrete stressstrain curves from cylinder tests carried out at 29 days from
2.4.3. Concrete creep
Six standard concrete cylinders (150 mm diameter and 300 mm
height) were used to measure the occurrence of creep. These were
grouped into two sets of three concrete cylinders each, referred
to in the following as CT1 and CT2, respectively. CT1 and CT2
were loaded at day 29 with sustained loads producing stresses of
7.5 MPa and 5.75 MPa, respectively. The total strain was measured
over time with Demec targets placed with a 100 mm gauge length,
as reported in Fig. 10. The creep coefficients (t , 29) calculated
at a generic instant in time t for a load applied at 29 days after
casting were obtained from the total strain and shrinkage readings
as follows:
c tot sh
(t , 29) = = 1, (1)
Fig. 9. Shrinkage deformations measured on the concrete cylinders and slabs. i i i
where tot is the total strain (Fig. 10), i represents the instanta-
and one shrinkage slab (with dimensions 1200 mm 1200 mm neous strain, c is the creep strain, and the shrinkage strain is de-
125 mm). The concrete cylinders were instrumented using Demec noted by sh (Fig. 9). The calculated creep coefficients are shown
targets with a gauge length of 100 mm. The shrinkage slab in Fig. 11, in which very good agreement is shown for the results
was made of plain concrete (i.e., no reinforcement) and had the obtained at the two stress levels.
same thickness as that used for the concrete in the beam. After A new loading rig was designed and fabricated to apply a
curing, it was placed on 16 equally spaced steel balls to enable constant sustained load to the cylinders. The overall layout of
it to shrink freely without any restraint. The thin side edges of this rig is depicted in Fig. 12. This rig has the advantage of
the shrinkage slab were carefully sealed with plastic to prevent being able to apply a constant sustained load over a period of
moisture exchange and to simulate the continuity condition which several months without requiring human control. The principle
would occur in a typical floor slab. Shrinkage measurements at the basis of the system is very simple, as it relies on hanging
started after 8 days from casting, the day at which the curing of all a dead load from a small-diameter hydraulic actuator (Jack A
concrete samples was terminated. Two sets of Demec points with in Fig. 12) which produces a certain pressure in the hydraulic
gauge length of 200 mm were used for shrinkage measurements system. As this system is connected to an actuator with a larger
of the shrinkage slabs. Fig. 9 shows the shrinkage strains measured diameter (Jack B at Fig. 12), the actual force induced by the latter
from the three cylinders and the concrete slab, which show very is greater than the force produced by the dead load; this increase
good agreement with each other. is, theoretically, proportional to the increase in actuator area. It
S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321 313

Identical specimens were used for short-term and long-term push-

out tests. Short-term slip measurements were taken at shear
connector locations using linear variable differential transducers
(LVDTs), as illustrated in Fig. 15(a). Short-term push-out tests
were performed at different instants in time. Measured loadslip
curves are shown in Fig. 17, and details are summarised in Table 4.
The long-term push-out test was performed using the same dead
loading system already described for the creep tests of the concrete
cylinders (Fig. 12). The layout of the sustained loading frame is
detailed in Fig. 16. Unlike in the instantaneous push-out test,
roller supports were placed at the base of the sample to ensure
maximum mobility of the sample during testing. This was achieved
by placing six round steel bars of 25 mm diameter under each
slab. This was carried out to maximise the possible deformations
that the sample could undergo during testing to enhance possible
Fig. 11. Concrete creep coefficients for two levels of sustained loads applied at 29 critical pronounced deformations which might have taken place
days from casting. over time. It is worth noting that the fixity of these supports
could be easily modified by simply removing these bars. Slip
is worth highlighting that the fine tuning of this rig took several measurements were taken using dial gauges at the locations of the
shear connectors, as shown in Fig. 16(a). The long-term push-out
months, due to issues which arose from leakage of the hydraulic
test specimen was subjected to a total sustained load of 130 kN at
system and from the thermal expansions and contractions of
29 days from casting, equivalent to about 30% of the capacity of
the oil. The final system was working very well with maximum
one shear connector (the latter being obtained on the same day of
variations recorded by means of a load cell of 2% of the applied load. loading from the results of the short-term push-out test). The slip
measurements recorded over time are shown in Fig. 18, where a
2.4.4. Steel section positive reading depicts the case in which the steel joist undergoes
Standard tensile coupon tests were carried out to evaluate the a downward movement with the slab remaining in its position. An
material properties of the flanges and webs of the steel joists, steel unloaded push-out sample was instrumented and its slip readings
reinforcement and shear studs. Their results are summarised in measured over time to monitor the occurrence of shrinkage
Table 3, and the corresponding stressstrain curves are presented (assuming creep effects due to its self-weight to be negligible).
in Fig. 13.
2.5. Temperature and humidity measurements
2.4.5. Shear connectors Readings of temperature and humidity were recorded at two-
The behaviour of the shear connection was evaluated by hour intervals for the whole duration of the long-term tests. The
means of short-term and long-term push-out tests. The testing mean temperature observed was 21 C and daily average readings
arrangement was based on the recommendations of Eurocode are shown in Fig. 19(a), clearly highlighting the seasonal trend.
4 [49], adopting a slab thickness of 125 mm, 310UB40 for the Average daily readings of relative humidity (RH) are shown in
steel section [50], and 12 mm diameter reinforcing bars, with Fig. 19(b); the RH values varied between 35% and 80%, with a mean
concrete cover of 25 mm, as used for the beam samples (Fig. 14). of 70% RH.


Jack A


Jack B frame

(a) Schematic. (b) Loading rig.

Fig. 12. Layout of the testing rig to apply sustained loads to the concrete cylinders.
314 S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321

Table 3
Summary of the material properties measured from tensile steel coupon tests.
Sample Coupon ID Yield stress (MPa) Average yield stress (MPa) Ultimate tensile strength (MPa) Average ultimate tensile strength (MPa)

310UB40flange 1 324.50 490.80

310UB40flange 2 323.20 324.27 482.30 490.43
310UB40web 3 325.10 498.20
Studs 4 346.40 518.44
5 347.30 351.67 516.80 517.47
6 359.80 517.16
N12 reinforcing bars 7 595.20 664.10
8 590.80 591.10 662.70 662.69
9 587.30 661.28

Table 4
Summary of push-out test results.
PT01 PT02 PT03 PT04 PT05

Time of testing after concrete casting (days) 29 551 551 552 552
Previously subjected to a sustained load for the duration of the long-term tests (yes/no) No Yes No No No
Applied sustained load in kN (if applicable) 130
Time of application of the sustained load after concrete casting expressed in days (if applicable) 29
Time of removal of the sustained load expressed in days (if applicable) 461
Max strength (kN) 111.97 116.57 122.02 131.7 128.2
Initial slope of the Load-slip curve (kN/mm) 200 360 320 360 280

(a) Steel joist. (b) N12 reinforcement.

(c) Shear studs.

Fig. 13. Experimental stressstrain curves of the steel components.

3. Test results At 29 days from casting, the instantaneous deflections measured

for CB2 and CB3 were 15.14 mm and 22.94 mm, respectively.
3.1. Deflection The difference in these value was due to the fact that CB2 was
subjected to the external sustained load (13.4 kN/m), while CB3
The mid-span total deflections measured over time for the supported both its full self-weight and the external sustained load
three beams are shown in Fig. 20. These readings included (19.8 kN/m). Despite the fact that the concrete component of
the instantaneous, the creep and shrinkage components. The CB3 was more heavily loaded than the one of CB2, the actual
deflections for CB1 and CB2 measured at the time of pouring were creep deflection coefficients, calculated as the ratio of the creep
nearly identical, and represent the deformation due to the self- deflection vc over the instantaneous one vi , were nearly identical,
weight of the steel beam and of the wet concrete just after casting. highlighting the validity of the linear creep assumptions in this
S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321 315

Fig. 14. Details of the push-out specimens.

(a) Schematic of the short-term push-out test. (b) Short-term push-out test.

Fig. 15. Instrumentation, loading arrangement and set-up for the short-term push-out tests.

case (Fig. 21). The deflection recorded for beam CB1, constructed Measurements for CB1 were negative due to shrinkage, i.e., the
under un-propped conditions, was assumed to be representative concrete slab shortened over its length. For CB2 and CB3, the main
of shrinkage effects only. The creep deflections of CB2 and CB3 slip variations took place at the time of loading, after which no
were calculated by subtracting their instantaneous deflections and significant differences were observed. As slip caused by creep is
shrinkage deflections (where the latter was assumed to be equal to opposite in direction to slip caused by shrinkage, it is reasonable
the deflection of CB1) from their total deflections. to conclude that for test specimen CB3 the slip values produced by
shrinkage and creep were of similar magnitudes as the total slip
3.2. Slip measured did not vary over time. In the case of CB2, the total slip
measurement reduced slightly with time. This is still acceptable
Fig. 22 shows the slip values recorded for the whole duration as, while the shrinkage slip is assumed to be the same for both
of the test at the shear connectors nearest to the beam supports. CB2 and CB3, the actual creep affecting CB2 is smaller than the one
316 S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321

Jack B Jack A


dial gauge

(a) Schematic of the long-term push-out test. (b) Long-term push-out test.

Fig. 16. Instrumentation, loading arrangement and set-up for the long-term push-out test.

moved downwards, as highlighted by the change in sign in the

strain readings at the bottom side of the slab. Significant long-
term deformations took place after the application of the sustained
external load in the slab and top steel flange when compared to its
instantaneous values. This trend was not observed for the bottom
steel flange, in which case only minor variations were recorded
with time, of the order of approximately 0.3 of their instantaneous

4. Numerical modelling

4.1. Finite element formulation

Fig. 17. Loadslip curves measured from the short-term push-out tests.
The finite element method has been used in this study to model
the behaviour of CB1, CB2 and CB3 observed during the long-
term experiments. For this purpose, the 10DOF (degree of freedom)
finite element depicted in Fig. 24 has been used, previously shown
in [51,52] to be an efficient and robust element for this kind of
simulation. This approach relies on an analytical model derived for
a prismatic steelconcrete composite beam, as shown in Fig. 25. In
its undeformed state, the composite beam occupies the cylindrical
region generated by translating its cross-section A, with regular
boundary A, along a rectilinear axis orthogonal to the cross-
section and parallel to the Z axis of an orthonormal reference
system {O; X , Y , Z }; i, j, k are the unit vectors of axes X , Y , Z . The
composite cross-section domain is formed by the slab, referred
to as A1 , and by the steel beam, referred to as A2 . The two
components of the composite cross-section, A1 and A2 , are assumed
Fig. 18. Loadslip curves measured from the long-term push-out tests.
to be symmetric about the YZ plane. Loads are symmetric with
respect to the YZ plane, which represents the plane of bending.
influencing CB3 (because the sustained load for CB2 was smaller No torsion or out-of-plane flexure is considered. The behaviour
than the one for CB3). Because of this, the negative shrinkage of both the slab and the steel joist is described based on the
slip slightly overcame the positive slip induced by creep for CB2 EulerBernoulli beam model, i.e., small displacements and strains,
(Fig. 22). plane sections perpendicular to the beam axis remain plane, rigid
and perpendicular to the beam axis after deformation. A perfect
3.3. Strain measurements bond occurs between the reinforcement and the concrete. The
composite action between the two components is provided by
Total strain readings were recorded throughout the long-term a continuous deformable interface along a rectilinear line at
tests at different locations of the cross-section. Measurements the interface between the two layers, whose domain consists of
taken place at mid-span at the top and bottom faces of the slab the points in the YZ plane with y = ysc and z [0, L], ysc
as well as at the top and bottom flanges of the steel joist are being defined in Fig. 25. The connection is assumed to permit
plotted in Fig. 23. Over time, the neutral axis of the three specimens only discontinuities parallel to the beam axis; thus no vertical
S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321 317

(a) Average daily temperature. (b) Average daily relative humidity.

Fig. 19. Environmental conditions measured during the long-term tests.

separation can occur between the two layers. With the 10DOF FE
formulation, linear polynomials have been used to approximate
the axial displacements of both the slab and the joist, and a cubic
representation has been adopted for the deflection, as detailed for
example in [51,52].

4.2. Material properties

The time-dependent behaviour of the concrete described based

on the integral-type creep law [1,2] has been approximated, subdi-
viding the time domain into discrete times t0 , t1 , t2 , . . . , ti , . . . , tk ,
by means of the step-by-step procedure based on the trapezoidal
rule [1,2]:
Fig. 20. Total mid-span deflections measured for CB1, CB2 and CB3.
ck = shk = c (t0 )J (tk , t0 ) +
[J (tk , ti )

+ J (tk , ti1 )][c (ti ) c (ti1 )], (2)

where ck is the total axial strain, which combines both stress-

dependent and stress-independent strains, shk is the shrinkage
strain, c (ti ) is the concrete stress calculated at time ti , and J (tk , ti )
is the creep function, which is defined as the strain at time tk caused
by a constant unit stress acting from time ti to time tk .
It is also assumed that the time-dependent behaviour of the
concrete is described by Eq. (2) in both compression and tension.
This is acceptable for stress levels in compression less than about
one half of the compressive strength of the concrete, and for tensile
stresses less than about one half of the tensile strength of the
concrete, as recommended by [2]. For the purpose of the proposed Fig. 21. Creep deflection coefficients for beams CB2 and CB3.
comparisons, the creep values have been calculated relying on the
format provided by [1] and modified to match the creep properties
of Fig. 11. The free shrinkage values adopted in the simulations are
based on Fig. 9.
It is assumed that the steel joist and the reinforcing bars
behave in a linear-elastic fashion with elastic moduli Es and Er ,
respectively, equal to 200 GPa.
Two constitutive relationships have been used for the shear
connection. One is based on the linear-elastic assumptions, and is
defined as

q(z ; t ) = ks(z ; t ) = k[u2 (z ; t ) u1 (z ; t ) + hv (z ; t )], (3)

in which z is the coordinate along the member axis, t depicts the

time measured from casting, u1 (z ; t ) and u2 (z ; t ) represent the
Fig. 22. Experimental slip measurements at the shear connectors nearest to the
axial displacements at two arbitrary reference levels located in supports for CB1, CB2 and CB3.
the slab and the joist, respectively, v (z ; t ) is the rotation along
the member length, h defines the distance between two arbitrary
reference levels in the slab and the joist, and the connection the corresponding slip s(z ; t ). A second constitutive relationship is
stiffness k relates the longitudinal force per unit length q(z ; t ) to proposed here, and it accounts for the time-dependent behaviour
318 S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321

(a) Top of slab. (b) Bottom of slab.

(c) Top steel flange. (d) Bottom steel flange.

Fig. 23. Strains measured at the mid-span for CB1, CB2 and CB3.

creep coefficient of the connectors defined as the ratio between

the slip that occurred due to creep (due to a sustained force
applied at time 0 ) and the initial slip observed at time 0 ,
and SC (t , 0 ) is the aging coefficient, taken as 0.75 for external
loads [2] and 0.55 when considering shrinkage [49]. Based on the
consideration that the long-term response of the shear connectors
is produced by the complex stress state surrounding the stud, the
proposed expression for SC (t , 0 ) is a function of the concrete
Fig. 24. 10DOF finite element. creep coefficient c (t , 0 ), and is written as

of the shear connection. This is stated as

SC (t , 0 ) = SC c (t , 0 ). (5)

q(z ; t ) = ke (z ; t )s(z ; t ) The value for SC has been calibrated against the experimental
k results to be 0.4. This proposed constitutive representation is
= intended to fall within the framework of simplified approaches
1 + SC (t , 0 )SC (t , 0 )
suitable for design applications. In fact, more refined material
[u2 (z ; t ) u1 (z ; t ) + hv (z ; t )], (4) relationships might need to be adopted for an accurate modelling
where ke (z ; t ) is the age-adjusted effective shear connection of the observed structural response, which is outside the scope of
stiffness accounting for creep effects, SC (t , 0 ) represents the the present paper.

Fig. 25. Typical composite beam and cross-section for the FE formulation.
S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321 319

(a) Beam CB1. (b) Beam CB2.

(c) Beam CB3.

Fig. 26. Comparison between numerical and measured mid-span deflections.

4.3. Comparisons between numerical and experimental results maximum errors of 5.9% (compared with measured data) when
considering creep deflections and of 0.4% for the shrinkage
The numerical results presented in this section have been reading at 461 days from casting. Modelling the composite
obtained by discretising the time domain into 40 time steps based behaviour by means of a shear connection stiffness constant in
on a geometrical sequence [1] and subdividing the member into 20 time (used for FE-1) produces excessive shrinkage deformations
finite elements, more than is necessary based on the conclusions (with an error of 43.2%), due to the higher shrinkage moment
of [51,52]. Considering the fact that the cylinder creep tests (Fig. 11) developed with time, and lower creep displacements (with an
were started at 29 days from casting, only measurements from this error of 51.7%). These discrepancies observed for the creep and
instant in time have been considered in the proposed simulations shrinkage effects considered in isolation tend to reduce when
and comparisons with the experimental results. combined together, since the errors produced in the two cases
Two sets of numerical results have been produced: one based counterbalance each other (Tables 5 and 6). A comparison between
the numerical results and experimental measurements related
on the linear-elastic properties of the shear connectors, using
to the mid-span deflections that have taken place over time is
Eq. (3), and the other based on their time-dependent properties,
presented in Fig. 26, from which it can be observed that the
based on Eqs. (4) and (5). For clarity, these have been referred to as
predictions obtained for FE-2 are better than those for FE-1. The
FE-1 and FE-2, respectively.
distinction between the creep and shrinkage effects was possible
The numerical and experimental results have been compared
thanks to the use of the proposed casting arrangement (Fig. 4).
in Tables 5 and 6, considering the mid-span deflections and
The necessity of including the time-dependent behaviour of the
the end slips, respectively. Their values have been divided into connectors to predict the structural response well is also shown
their instantaneous, creep and shrinkage components to gain by considering the slip results. These readings and numerical
better insight into the structural response. The material properties results are very sensitive to the adopted connection rigidities
adopted for the concrete and the steel joist have been based on and, therefore, provide useful insight into the partial interaction
the standard tests carried out on each of these components, while response. Supposing the shear connection rigidity to remain
the rigidity of the shear connection stiffness of 160 000 kN/m2 constant with time, i.e., for FE-1, the calculated slip values can lead
has been determined based on the instantaneous deflections to significant errors (Table 6), when compared to the experimental
measured for CB2 and CB3 at 29 days from casting. This has been measurements, of the order of 90% and +33% for creep and
carried out based on the consideration that the use of the rigidity shrinkage effects considered separately, respectively. These errors
obtained from the push-out tests (Table 4) in the simulations reduced to 10% and 16%, respectively, in the case of FE-2.
would underestimate the instantaneous deflections. Based on the numerical and experimental results outlined, it
Considering the results reported in Tables 5 and 6 for the is recommended that further experimental studies on full-scale
creep and shrinkage deformations, the use of the age-adjusted samples and push-out specimens need to be carried out to gain
shear connection stiffness (used for FE-2) provides a better better insight into the time-dependent behaviour of the shear
representation of the time-dependent composite behaviour, with connectors.
320 S. Al-deen et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 67 (2011) 308321

Table 5
Comparison between the numerical and experimental mid-span deflections.
Loading condition Measured FE-1 (with constant connection FE-2 (with time-dependent
stiffness) connection stiffness)
vmid-span (mm) vmid-span (mm) error (%) vmid-span (mm) error (%)

Shrinkage between 29 and 222 days 4.24 7.11 +67.7% 5.10 +20.3%
Shrinkage between 29 and 461 days 5.05 7.23 +43.2% 5.03 0.4%
Instantaneous external load (13.4 kN/m) at 29 days 15.14 15.34 +1.3% 15.34 +1.3%
Creep due to the sustained external load (13.4kN/m) at 461 days 7.82 3.78 51.7% 7.36 5.9%
Shrinkage and creep due to the sustained external load 12.87 11.01 14.5% 12.39 3.7%
(13.4 kN/m) at 461 days
Instantaneous external load (19.8 kN/m) and beam self-weight at 22.94 22.67 1.2% 22.67 1.2%
29 days
Creep due to the beam self-weight and the sustained external load 9.26 5.14 44.5% 8.13 12.2%
(19.8 kN/m) at 222 days
Shrinkage and creep due to the beam self-weight and the sustained 13.50 12.25 9.3% 13.23 2.0%
external load (19.8 kN/m) at 222 days

Table 6
Comparison between the numerical and experimental end slips.
Loading condition Measured FE-1 (with constant connection FE-2 (with time-dependent
stiffness) connection stiffness)
send (mm) send (mm) error (mm) send (mm) error (mm)

Shrinkage between 29 and 222 days 0.64 0.46 +0.18 0.69 0.05
Shrinkage between 29 and 461 days 0.70 0.47 +0.23 0.81 0.11
Instantaneous external load (13.4 kN/m) at 29 days 0.50 0.67 +0.17 0.67 +0.17
Creep due to the sustained external load (13.4 kN/m) at 461 days 0.60 0.06 0.54 0.55 0.05
Shrinkage and creep due to the sustained external load (13.4 kN/m) 0.10 0.41 0.31 0.26 0.16
at 461 days
Instantaneous external load (19.8 kN/m) and beam self-weight at 29 0.70 0.99 +0.29 0.99 +0.29
Creep due to the beam self-weight and the sustained external load 0.65 0.09 0.56 0.59 0.06
(19.8 kN/m) at 222 days
Shrinkage and creep due to the beam self-weight and the sustained 0.01 0.37 0.38 0.10 0.11
external load (19.8 kN/m) at 222 days

5. Conclusions and shrinkage should be calculated based on the proposed age-

adjusted effective shear connection stiffness. This has been shown
This paper has presented the results collected during an to be particularly significant when dealing with creep effects, as the
experimental programme investigating the long-term behaviour use of a constant shear connection stiffness would underestimate
of composite steel concrete beams. For this purpose, the main the deformations of the overall member. On the other hand,
measurements, i.e., deflection, slip and strain readings, obtained in the case of an unloaded member, the effects of shrinkage
from the long-term testing of three 8 m long simply supported calculated using the age-adjusted effective approach yield smaller
beams were reported. Both propped and un-propped conditions deformations. Further experimental work has been recommended
were utilised in the preparation of the specimens. The specimens to gain better insight into the time-dependent behaviour of shear
were designed in accordance with Australian guidelines, adopting connectors.
a degree of shear connection equal to 0.5. Standard short-term
and long-term tests were carried out to obtain the relevant Acknowledgements
material properties of both steel and concrete. Short-term and
long-term push-out tests were carried out to obtain information The work in this article was supported under the Australian
on the response of the shear connectors. Considering the limited Research Councils Discovery Projects funding scheme (project
experimental data available to date for this form of construction, number DP0667127) and by a research grant awarded to the
these results are very useful for benchmarking of numerical second author by the Commonwealth through the AustraliaKorea
models. Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The
The experimental results were modelled by means of the experimental work was conducted in the J.W. Roderick Materials
finite element method. The time-dependent behaviour of the and Structures Testing Laboratory of the School of Civil Engineering
concrete was modelled by means of the step-by-step procedure, at the University of Sydney. The assistance of the laboratory staff is
while the steel joist and reinforcement were assumed to remain greatly acknowledged.
linear elastic. Two constitutive relationships were adopted for
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