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Title no. 102-S20

Stresses in External Tendons at Ultimate

by Carin L. Roberts-Wollmann, Michael E. Kreger, David M. Rogowsky, and John E. Breen

This paper presents the research that led to the development of the equation for the prediction of the stress in unbonded tendons
equation for predicting stresses in unbonded tendons at ultimate at ultimate. The equation was adopted into the AASHTO
that is currently embodied in the AASHTO LRFD Specifications Guide Specification for the Design and Construction of
and AASHTO Guide Specifications for the Design and Construction Segmental Concrete Bridges (AASHTO 1999) and the
of Segmental Concrete Bridges. The research, performed by the
AASHTO LRFD Specifications (AASHTO 1998).
late Robert J. G. MacGregor, involved the construction and testing
of a 1/4 scale model of a three-span, continuous, precast segmental- This paper presents the research performed by MacGregor
concrete box girder bridge, erected using span-by-span techniques and the development of the equation. Due to his untimely
and post-tensioned with external tendons. This paper presents the death, MacGregor never presented his research results
results of the tests to ultimate that were dominated by flexural (MacGregor 1989) in a technical journal. The authors are
behavior. MacGregor developed an equation for predicting stresses very pleased to be able to expand upon and present this
in unbonded tendons at ultimate. Predicted tendon stress increases outstanding research. In addition to MacGregor’s original
are compared to a large data base from other tests of beams and work, the authors have added a comparison of stresses
slabs with unbonded tendons. The equation results in conservative predicted using MacGregor’s equation to a large data base
predictions of stresses at ultimate and provides a rational assembled from other tests performed on beams and slabs
approach to predicting stresses in tendons that are continuous
post-tensioned with unbonded tendons. This comparison
over multiple spans.
illustrates the applicability of the equation to unbonded
Keywords: post-tensioning; prestressed concrete; unbonded member.
tendons in buildings as well as bridges. We dedicate the
article to the memory of Robert J. G. MacGregor, brilliant
engineer and dear friend.
Post-tensioned segmental concrete bridges are often used
for long, multispan viaducts or medium-span valley and RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE
river crossings. Their many advantages include aesthetic The determination of the stresses in unbonded tendons at
appeal, relatively rapid construction, and the ability to be ultimate is an overall structural system-oriented problem.
constructed from above, which reduces disruptions at grade. To reduce the rigor involved in design, particularly
They are often constructed with a mix of internal (fully preliminary design, however, a simple equation is useful for
bonded) and external (unbonded or partially bonded) post- predicting the tendon stress at ultimate. The research
tensioning tendons. The methods used for predicting the presented in this paper led to the development of a simple
stresses at ultimate in the bonded and unbonded tendons are and rational design equation for the prediction of unbonded
quite different. For bonded tendons, complete strain tendon stresses at ultimate.
compatibility between the concrete and the steel can be
assumed, and a sectional analysis can be performed. For LABORATORY MODEL
unbonded tendons, there is no strain compatibility at any Model details
given section, and hence the determination of the stresses at This section presents the details of the laboratory 1/4 scale
ultimate must be based on an overall structural system analysis. model; only the geometry and the tendon details are
presented. Further information on the reinforcing steel
In the mid-1980s, construction began on the first phase of
details, construction details, and additional specific infor-
the San Antonio “Y” Project. The project was a massive
mation are given in MacGregor, Kreger, and Breen (1989,
upgrade of the intersection of two interstate highways in
1990) and MacGregor (1989).
downtown San Antonio. The majority of the upgrade was
The structure had three equal span lengths of 7.62 m each.
constructed with precast segmental concrete box girders,
The spans contained 10 typical segments, each 686 mm long;
post-tensioned with a combination of internal and external
two cast-in-place closure strips, each 76 mm long; and two
tendons. Because of the large scope of this project, and the
pier segments. Average 28-day compressive strength of the
increase in the use of segmental bridges elsewhere in the
typical segments was 42.4 MPa and that of the pier segments
U.S., the Texas Department of Transportation sponsored a
was 83.6 MPa.
series of research projects aimed at developing a better
understanding of the behavior of this relatively new type of Figure 1 shows the cross-sectional dimensions of typical
bridge. One of these projects was performed by MacGregor span and pier segments. To facilitate the construction of the
(MacGregor, Kreger, and Breen 1989). He constructed and model, the external tendons, which are typically contained
tested a highly detailed 1/4-scale model of a three-span within the hollow core of box girders, were placed outside
continuous, precast, segmental-concrete box girder bridge,
erected using span-by-span techniques and post-tensioned ACI Structural Journal, V. 102, No. 2, March-April 2005.
with external tendons. He studied many aspects of the MS No. 03-230 received July 3, 2003, and reviewed under Institute publication policies.
Copyright © 2005, American Concrete Institute. All rights reserved, including the making
behavior of segmental bridges, but one of the most important of copies unless permission is obtained from the copyright proprietors. Pertinent
outcomes of this research was the proposal of a design discussion including author’s closure, if any, will be published in the January-February
2006 ACI Structural Journal if the discussion is received by September 1, 2005.

206 ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005

ACI member Carin L. Roberts-Wollmann is an assistant professor in the Charles E.
Table 1—Tendon profiles
Via, Jr., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Virginia Polytechnic Tendon 1A—North span—2 x 5 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va. She is a member of Joint ACI-ASCE
Committee 423, Prestressed Concrete. x, m –0.30 0.0 1.41 2.78 4.84 6.21 7.62 7.92
e, mm 73.7 86.4 144 158 158 144 –67.8 80.0
Michael E. Kreger, FACI, is a professor in the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue
University, West Lafayette, Ind. He received his BS, MS, and PhD from the University h, mm 381 381 381 559 559 381 356 387
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a member of ACI Committees 215, Fatigue of Tendon 1B—North span—2 x 5 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
Concrete; 318-H, Seismic Provisions; 374, Performance-Based Seismic Design of
Concrete Buildings; and Joint ACI-ASCE Committee 352, Joints and Connections in x, m –0.30 0.0 2.10 2.78 15.88 18.13 7.62 7.92
Monolithic Concrete Structures. e, mm –63.0 –53.3 144 151 151 144 –71.4 80.0
ACI member David M. Rogowsky is a structural engineering specialist with UMA
h, mm 381 381 381 470 470 381 464 527
Engineering Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is a member of ACI Committees 350, Tendon 3—North span—2 x 2 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures, and Joint ACI-ASCE Committees
421, Design of Reinforced Concrete Slabs; 423, Prestressed Concrete; and 445,
x, m –0.30 0.0 2.78 4.84 7.62 9.72
Shear and Torsion. e, mm –66.0 –53.3 144 144 –73.1 144 Continues in
Center span
h, mm 546 546 381 381 518 381
ACI Honorary Member John E. Breen holds the Nasser I. Al-Rashid Chair in Civil
Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Tex. He is a member and Tendon 2—Center span—2 x 5 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
former Chair of ACI Committee 318, Structural Concrete Building Code, and x, m 7.32 7.62 9.03 10.40 12.46 13.83 15.24 15.54
former Chair of the ACI Technical Activities Committee.
e, mm 67.3 –69.6 144 158 158 144 –69.6 67.3
h, mm 406 410 381 559 559 381 410 406
Tendon 3—Center span—2 x 2 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
x, m 9.72 10.40 12.46 13.14 15.24 15.54
e, mm Continues from 144
North span 151 151 144 –73.2 61.0
h, mm 381 470 470 381 518 559
Tendon 5—Center span—2 x 2 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
x, m 7.32 7.62 10.40 12.46 15.24 18.02
e, mm 35.6 –74.9 144 144 –74.9 144 Continues in
South span
h, mm 559 572 381 381 572 381
Tendon 4A—South span—2 x 5 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
x, m 14.94 15.24 16.65 18.02 20.08 21.45 22.86 23.16
e, mm 80.0 –67.8 144 158 158 144 86.4 73.7
h, mm 387 356 381 559 559 381 381 381
Tendon 4B—South span—2 x 5 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
x, m 14.94 15.24 17.34 18.02 20.08 20.76 22.86 23.16
Fig. 1—Model cross sections. e, mm 80.0 –71.4 144 151 151 144 –53.5 –63.0
h, mm 527 464 381 470 470 381 381 381
Tendon 5—South span—2 x 2 each, 10 mm diameter, 1860 MPa strands
x, m 18.02 20.08 22.86 23.16
e, mm Continues from 144
Center span 144 –53.5 –66.0
h, mm 381 381 546 546

Figure 2 shows the tendon layouts in the three spans, and

Table 1 provides detailed information about the tendon profiles.
The spans are designated North, Center, and South. The North
span had dry joints and the Center and South spans had epoxy
joints. The segment designations are shown in Fig. 2.
Construction began with the North span. After the
segments were positioned and the closures cast and cured to
the required strength, Tendons 1A and 1B were stressed. The
shoring was then lowered and advanced to the Center span.
After the segments were preliminarily set in position, they
were moved apart far enough for the application of the joint
epoxy. They were then temporarily post-tensioned to squeeze
Fig. 2—Schematic of tendon layouts. excess epoxy from the joints and ensure proper cure. Then
the closures were cast and cured and Tendon 2, a simple span
the webs. The webs were moved toward the center of the box tendon, was stressed. Next, Tendon 3, which ran the full
to accommodate the tendon locations. Each typical segment length of the North and Center spans, was stressed. The
had a full-height diaphragm. The tendons were deviated at shoring was lowered and advanced to the South span, which
the diaphragms in some segments and passed through over- also had epoxied joints. After the closures had cured,
sized holes at others. The pier segments were similar to the Tendons 4A and 4B, simple span tendons, were stressed.
typical span segments, except their cores were solid and the Tendon 5, which was continuous over the Center and South
diaphragms were thickened to accommodate the tendon span, was then stressed. Finally, an internal tendon in the top
anchorage hardware and related forces. slab, which ran the full length of the bridge, was stressed.

ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005 207

Table 2—Tendon stresses at ultimate and the joints adjacent to the pier segments were monitored
Initial in each span.
stress* fpe, change Final stress
Test Location Tendon MPa ∆fps, MPa fps, MPa Testing procedures
1AW 1002 248 1250 The spans were subjected to a wide variety of tests that
North span, 1AE 854 234 1088 examined behavior at service load levels, cracking loads,
Joint (5, 6) 1BW 929 331 1260 decompression loads, torsional loads, factored loads, and
North span
3W 936 228 1164 finally, ultimate strength. This paper presents only the results
flexure of the ultimate strength tests. Only the end spans were loaded
2E 695 103 798
Center to ultimate, and ultimate was defined as a load at which the
span, Joint 3W 898 145 1043
(N1, 11) stiffness of the span being loaded had reduced to a very small
5W 1087 83 1170
fraction of the initial elastic stiffness (for all practical purposes
1AW 1002 310 1312 the ultimate load). The spans were not loaded to a catastrophic
North span, 1AE 854 290 1144 failure, so additional tests could be conducted on the repaired
Joint (5, 6) 1BW 929 407 1336 spans after the tendons were further bonded to approach a
North span
3W 936 283 1219 fully bonded system (Hindi, Kreger, and Breen 1991).
Center 2E 695 138 833 Each end span was loaded twice to ultimate by MacGregor.
span, Joint 3W 898 186 1084 First, a flexural strength test was conducted with two equal
(N1, 11) loads positioned to simulate two axles of a design truck.
5W 1087 103 1190
4AW 1226 255 1481 After completion of flexural testing, an exploratory test was
South span, 4AE 1090 262 1352 conducted on each end span in which a significant shear,
4BW 979 283 1262
well above factored live load, was transferred across an
(25, 26)
South span opening joint.
flexure 5W 1005 393 1398
All tests were conducted with the same general procedure.
2E 695 124 819
Center At the start of each test, all instruments except strain gauges
span, Joint 3W 898 124 1022 on tendons were initialized. Using this procedure, the data
(19, 20) 5W 1087 110 1197 from the test measurements represent the structural response
4AW 1226 345 1571 due to test loads only. The tendon strains were never zeroed,
South span, 4AE 1090 331 1421 so the measured strain data represented actual tendon strain
(25, 26) 4BW 979 393 1372 including dead load and losses. Test loads were applied in
South span 5W 1005 414 1419 small increments until the desired maximum level was reached.
Center 2E 695 152 847
span, Joint 3W 898 159 1057 TEST RESULTS
(19, 20) 5W 1087 145 1232 This section presents the results of the shear and flexural
* tests to ultimate on the North and South spans. Applied loads
After losses, prior to test load application.
are presented in terms of multiples of equivalent AASHTO
live plus impact loads (LL + I), which for the flexural and
shear tests were 55.1 and 48.0 kN, respectively. The two
Because this was a 1/4-scale model, dead load compen- spans exhibited very similar behavior during each test. As
sating blocks were required. These were added to each span load was applied, the bridge initially showed linear load-
prior to the stressing operations. deflection behavior and load versus change in tendon
stress behavior. At loads varying from 133 to 204 kN (2.8 to
Instrumentation 3.7 equivalent (LL + I)), the first joint began to open in the
Strain gauges were placed on the external tendons near dry jointed span (North) or the first crack initiated or began
midspan and near the supports. At each location, small to open in the epoxied span (South). In both spans the first
electrical resistance gauges were bonded to one wire of two joint opening or crack formation was near midspan.
of the seven wire strands within each tendon. Both the east Following joint opening or cracking, tendon stresses and
side and west side tendons were gauged. The gauges were deflections increased at a faster rate, and in some tests,
monitored during the stressing operation, along with ram tendons began slipping at deviators.
forces and tendon elongations. This information was used to At loads varying from 216 to 326 kN (4.5 to 5.7 equivalent
determine the original tendon force at each location. The (LL + I)), a support joint began to open, and the structure
strains in the strands were continuously monitored from the exhibited additional softening of the load-deflection response.
time of stressing to the time of testing, which for the first As loads increased, tendon stresses continued to increase,
span was 122 days. Table 2 presents the stresses inferred and additional tendons began to slip at deviators. To avoid a
from strain measurements at the time of testing in each of catastrophic failure, testing was discontinued when the
the tendons. tangent stiffness computed from the load-deflection response
Deflections were measured at the midspan, quarter points, had reduced to approximately four percent of the original
and near the supports of each span, using both displacement elastic stiffness.
potentiometers, and dial gauges. Load cells were positioned Figure 3 shows the load-deflection plot for the North span
at each support to measure reactions. flexural test and indicates the loads at which joints opened or
Joint openings were measured with two types of instru- cracks formed. This behavior is typical for both spans and
mentation: 1) a displacement potentiometer at the bottom of both loading conditions. Table 2 presents the initial stress,
midspan joints and top of support joints, and 2) crack stress at ultimate, and stress increment for each tendon.
monitors on the flanges and webs. Four joints near midspan Figure 4 shows increase in tendon stresses near the support

208 ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005

Fig. 3—Load-deflection plot for ultimate load test in
North span.
Fig. 5—Joint opening measurements.

Fig. 4—Tendon stress increases during North span flexural

test. Fig. 6—Failure mechanism.

hinge with applied loads for the flexural test of the North In an unbonded-tendon girder, tendon strains are not
span. The influence of joint opening on tendon stress increases compatible with the adjacent concrete and are instead averaged
as is apparent in Fig 4. over the unbonded length of the tendon. In this case, it is
Figure 5 shows the progression of joint opening with much more difficult to predict the tendon stress that corresponds
applied loads during flexural testing of the North span. From with ultimate flexural strength.
this plot, and similar plots from the other three tests to The behavior of a multiple span external tendon bridge can
ultimate, it was observed that the rotation at support joints be simply modeled as a series of rigid members connected by
was one-half to one-third of the rotation at midspan joints. discrete hinges at various locations on the extreme
The results of these tests provided valuable information compression fiber and containing draped or straight tendons.
about the behavior of externally post-tensioned box girders. Generally, collapse mechanism analyses are considered for
The primary observations which aided in the development of estimating strength of continuous structures. It is helpful,
a flexural strength model are: however, in the derivation of this model, to first examine the
• Stresses in unbonded tendons increase only slightly rigid body mechanism for a simple span structure with a
before the occurrence of cracking or joint opening; straight tendon. The failure mechanism and various parameters
• Rotation at midspan hinges is approximately twice the are illustrated in Fig. 6. All tendon elongation is considered
rotation at support hinges; and to occur at the opening hinge. If the angle of rotation is
• Ultimate strength is achieved after the formation of a defined as θ, and the distance from the neutral axis to the
collapse mechanism. tendon is zp, then the tendon elongation is defined as


A structural member resists applied bending moments by
an internal force couple between a compressive force and a and the tendon strain increase is
tension force separated by a lever arm. To predict the flexural
capacity of a beam, it is necessary to estimate either the
δ zp ⋅ θ
maximum resultant concrete compressive force or the ∆ε ps = --- = -----------
- (2)
maximum tensile force and the distance between these two L L
equal and opposite forces.
In a bonded-tendon girder, the tendon strains are assumed where L is the length of the tendon between anchorages. For
to be compatible with the adjacent concrete, and strain this derivation the span length and tendon length are considered
compatibility methods can be used to predict flexural strength. to be equal.

ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005 209

Table 3—Equations for ∆fps for simple spans (MPa)
Source Equation for ∆fps (as presented) Assumptions Reduced equation

5000  ----------------
5000 d ps – c y
Canadian code ------------ ( d ps – c y ) — -
Le  Le 

7030-  1 1.7f pu A ps

----------- – --------------------- 1.7f pu A ps
7030  ----------------
d ps – c u
British code L 
 ------ f cu bd ps  c u = ---------------------
 L 
 d ps f cu b

0.075E ps  ------
d ps
14,000  ------
Swiss code d ps
Eps = 193 GPa
(edge span)  L  L

E ps  -------
d ps
11,400  ------
d ps
German code ∆L = ------ Eps = 193 GPa
 L 17  L

Ω u E ps ε cu  ------
d ps 
 c 
Naaman and Eps = 193 GPa
1740  ------
d ps  d ps – c
Alkhairi (1991) 3.0 ---------------
Ω u = ------------ εcu = 0.003  c  L 
(uniform loading)
 ------
 d ps

Eps = 193 GPa

d(1 – n)
ψε cu E s  -------------------- 6080  --------------
Tam and Pannell c d ps – c

n = --- εcu = 0.003 -
(1976) L  d  L 
ψ = 10.5
Eps = 193 GPa
εcu = 0.003 β1 cu
E ps ε cu + ε su   d ps – --------- -
- ------------------- d ps – ---  d s – ---
a a εsu = 0.020 4440  -----------------------
Virlogeux (1985) ------ 2
L ds  2  2 ds ~ ds – a/2  L 
 
a = β1cu
ACI 318-02 f c′
(span-to-depth 70 + -------------- (f ′ in MPa) — —
ratio < 35) 100ρ p c

The angle θ can be defined in two ways. When the hinge Similarly, some code equations to predict unbonded tendon
forms at midspan, considering the overall span deflection ∆, stresses are based on assumptions of realistic deflection to
it can be defined as span ratios at ultimate (DIN 1980; Swiss 1979). Whichever
method is used to predict θ, the final form of the equation
4∆ based on this approach, assuming that the tendon remains in
θ = ------- (3) the elastic stress range and substituting (dps – c) for zp, is
as follows
It can also be defined as a function of the curvature of the
E ps θ ( d ps – c )
section over the length of the plastic hinge. For this case the ∆f ps = E ps ∆ε ps = -------------------------------
- (6)
angle would be most precisely defined as L

Lp where Eps is the modulus of elasticity of the prestressing

θ =
∫0 φ ( x ) dx (4) tendon, and dps is the depth from the compression face to the
centroid of the prestressing tendon
Table 3 presents various code equations and equations
where Lp is the length of the plastic hinge and φ(x) is the proposed by researchers. It illustrates that many equations
curvature at distance x from one end of the plastic hinge. can be distilled to a very similar format, with the major
However, this can be approximated as difference being the value assigned to θ.
After a review of many available methods and consid-
ε cu eration of his test results, MacGregor selected the Tam and
θ = L p φ = L p ------
- (5) Pannell (1976) equation as a starting point. The Tam and
c Pannell equation is as follows

where εcu is the ultimate strain in the concrete, and c is the

d ps – c
depth from the compression face to the neutral axis. ∆f ps = E ps ψε cu  --------------- (7)
 L 
Researchers have developed methods to determine the
moment-curvature relationship for beams and slabs with
unbonded tendons (Du and Tao 1985), but the process is He simplified the equation with the substitution of Eps =
iterative and rather tedious for hand calculations. In the 193,000 MPa, εcu = 0.003, and a value for ψ = Lp/c = 10.5.
development of equations to predict tendon stress increases, The value of ψ = 10.5 had been recommended by Tam and
φ and Lp have often been approximated based on simple Pannell based on their physical tests, and it also agreed well
assumptions of limiting concrete and steel strains (Virlogeux with observations from MacGregor’s testing program. The
1983), or derived from test results (Tam and Pannell 1976). simplified equation is as follows

210 ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005

d ps – c
∆f ps = ( 193, 000 ) ( 10.5 ) ( 0.003 )  --------------- =
 L 
d ps – c d ps – c y
6080  --------------- ≈ 6200  -----------------
- , MPa (8)
 L   L 

MacGregor recommended that the depth to the neutral axis

be calculated assuming all mild and prestressed reinforcing
steel crossing the opening hinge is at yield (cy). Another
possible approach is to use the depth to the neutral axis based Fig. 7—Failure mechanism for continuous beams and slabs.
on the predicted stress in the unbonded tendons at ultimate.
This requires the simultaneous solution of the above equation
and the equation of internal equilibrium at the hinge.
MacGregor viewed this additional rigor to be unnecessary,
and the assumption of all steel yielded to be acceptable.
MacGregor further developed the equation to reflect
tendon stress increases in continuous systems. Considering a
flexural failure mechanism, and assuming that ultimate
capacity is attained when a mechanism forms in one critical
span, as illustrated in Fig. 7, a draped tendon will cross one
midspan hinge and either one or two support hinges,
depending on whether the mechanism forms in an end or
interior span. He recognized from the model and confirmed
with his tests that the rotation at a support hinge is only 1/2
of the rotation at a midspan hinge. Therefore the total tendon
elongation is
Fig. 8—Tendons influenced by opening hinges.
δ total = δ midspan  1 + ----
N (9)
 2 at those points. Due to friction between the tendon and the
deviator pipe, however, there was a difference in tendon
where N is the number of support hinges required to form a stress across each deviator. During the course of testing,
flexural mechanism that are crossed by the tendon between there was some slip across the deviators, but the tendon
points of discrete bonding or anchoring, and δmidspan is the stress changes varied along the tendon length. The values
elongation that would be calculated for a simple span tendon. presented in Table 4 are the maximum measured stress
As shown in Fig. 7, if the critical span is an end span, N = 1, increases. In a real structure with vibrations, repeated loadings,
if it is an interior span, then N = 2. MacGregor then presented and multiple thermal cycles, the tendons may slip more
his equation in the following form across deviators than observed in the laboratory tests.
Also shown in Table 4 are the stress increases predicted by
d ps – c y the current equation presented in ACI 318-02. This equation is
f ps = f pe + 6200  -----------------
- , MPa (10) shown in Table 3. The equation predicts midspan tendon
 le 
stress increases quite well, but significantly overestimates
the increases at opening support joints.
where fps is the stress in the tendon at ultimate, fpe is the The prediction model was also compared to results from a
effective prestress in the tendon, l e = L/(1+[N/2]), L is the large sample of tests of simple span beams with unbonded
length of the tendon between anchorages or fully bonded tendons. The database includes 77 individual tests (Du and
deviators, and N is the number of support hinges required to Tao 1985; Mattock, Yamazaki, and Kattula 1971; Tam and
form a mechanism crossed by the tendon. Pannell 1976; Cooke, Park, and Yong 1981; Chakrabarti et
al. 1994; and Campbell and Chouinard 1991), which included
PREDICTIONS COMPARED TO TEST RESULTS beams with unbonded tendons only and beams with
Table 4 presents changes in tendon stress predicted by unbonded tendons plus bonded mild reinforcement. The
MacGregor’s equation and the stress changes calculated measured stress increases are compared to the calculated
from measured strain changes in his tests. Schematics of the values in Fig. 9. The measured stress increase was on
tendons influenced by the North and South span tests are average 164% of the calculated value, with a very large
shown in Fig. 8. For the North span tests, Tendons 1A and standard deviation of 63%.
1B cross only the midspan hinge, Tendon 3 crosses the The data was also compared to the stresses predicted by
midspan and support hinges, and Tendons 2 and 5 cross only the current ACI 318-02 equation. The ACI equation is
the support hinge. The calculated tendon stress increases are generally conservative for these simple span tests. The
based on the observed hinges crossed by each tendon. measured stress increase was on average 172% of the calculated
Measured tendon stress increases were 126 to 325% of the value with a standard deviation of 67%. Table 5 presents the
model predictions. A major contributor to the conservatism performance of all the equations given in Table 3 compared
of the model is the assumption that the stress increase is to the test data. All of the equations result in relatively high
uniform along the length of the tendon. Tendons in the model standard deviations. So, for this group of simple span
bridge crossed several deviation points but were not bonded beams, MacGregor’s equation is not significantly superior;

ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005 211

Table 4—Measured and predicted tendon stress increases
ACI 318
Number of full Calculation ∆fps, Measurement* ∆fps, Measurement/ Calculation ∆fps, Measurement/cal-
Test Tendon number hinges crossed MPa MPa calculation MPa culation
1A 1 214 269 1.26 269 1.00
1B 1 214 369 1.73 269 1.37
3† m 1.5 154 255 210 1.37 269 0.95
North span s 165 186 0.89
2 0.5‡ 83.4 121 1.45 186 0.65
5 0.5‡ 43.4 93 2.14 186 0.50
4A 1 214 303 1.42 331 0.92
4B 1 214 338 1.58 331 1.02
5† m 1.5 154 403 265 1.73 331 1.22
South span s 128 193 0.66
2 0.5‡ 83.4 138 1.65 193 0.71
3 ‡ 43.4 141 3.25 193 0.73
Measured stress changes are averages of all gauges at hinge location, averaged for both flexure and shear tests.

m = midspan and s = support, calculated stress increase is based on weighted average of d – cy at support hinge and midspan hinge—measured values are presented for gauges at
two hinges and average.

Tendons cross only a support hinge (refer to Fig. 8).

Table 5—Performance of equations predicting Burns, Charney, and Vines performed a series of tests on
stress increase at ultimate compared to two, three-span, continuous one-way post-tensioned flat
database of tests slabs. Three tests to ultimate were conducted, one in which
Average test/predicted the outside two spans were loaded, one in which only the
Equation stress increase Standard deviation center span was loaded, and one in which two adjacent spans
MacGregor 1.64 0.63 were loaded. Mattock, Yamazaki, and Kattula constructed
ACI 318-02 1.72 0.67 two, two-span continuous beams, and for each beam loaded
Canadian code 2.04 0.78 both spans simultaneously to failure. The results are
British code 1.59 0.64
presented in Table 6 and are compared to predictions using
Eq. (10).
Swiss code 0.58 0.27
As can be seen from Table 6, the equation is conservative
German code 0.73 0.35
in all cases. The performance of the equation is improved if
Tam and Pannell 1.67 0.64
the tendon stress increases are based on the observed number
Naaman and Alkhairi 2.06 0.96 of hinges, rather than a minimum number to cause a
Virlogeux 2.15 0.95 mechanism to form. It must be emphasized, however, that
these were laboratory tests in which the construction process
was very closely monitored to insure that spans were very
nearly identical, and loads were also applied very carefully.
Because of this, it is likely that multiple mechanisms formed
simultaneously. In design, however, it is conservative and
realistic to assume that at failure one span, and hence one
mechanism, will be critical. Stress increases should be based
on the critical mechanism.


This paper presented the research and background
information that led to the development of the equation for
stresses in unbonded tendons at ultimate, which is recom-
mended by the AASHTO Segmental and LRFD Specifications
(AASHTO 1999, AASHTO 1998).
The equation proposed by MacGregor predicts the tendon
stress increases in unbonded tendons conservatively and
relatively well compared to expressions that ignore tendon
length such as in ACI 318-02. MacGregor’s equation
Fig. 9—Predicted versus measured tendon stress changes. predicts stress increases slightly better than the current ACI
equation when compared to simple span tests, but his equation
however, it is simple and the treatment of continuous spans addresses stress increases in tendons continuous over several
is most rational. spans much more rationally than the current equation.
The prediction model was compared against results of tests Other conclusions drawn from the model testing program
performed on continuous beams and slabs (Burns, Charney, are as follows:
and Vines 1978; Mattock, Yamazaki, and Kattula 1971). • During design of externally post-tensioned girders,

212 ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005

Table 6—Continuous slab test results versus predictions
∆fps, calculated with
Tendon ∆fps, ∆fps, Observed number observed number of
Slab Loading pattern (1 + N/2) d – cy, mm length, mm calculation, MPa measurement, MPa of hinges* hinges, MPa
Outside spans 1.5 50 9144 50.3 108 3 101
Burns, Charney, Two
and Vines, adjacent spans 1.5 50 9144 50.3 134 3.5 117
Slab A
Interior span 2 51 9144 68.9 73.1 2 68.9
Outside spans 1.5 50 9144 50.3 145 3 101
Burns, Charney, Two
and Vines, adjacent spans 1.5 50 9144 50.3 96.5 3.5 117
Slab B
Interior span 2 51 9144 68.9 89.6 2 68.9
Mattock CU1 Two spans 1.5 222 17,070 108 372 3 215
Mattock CU2 Two spans 1.5 226 17,070 110 400 3 219
Midspan hinge is considered a full hinge; support hinge is considered a half hinge.

details should be provided to ensure that hinges form in REFERENCES

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ACI Structural Journal/March-April 2005 213