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An Overview of P-Delta Analysis

An Overview of P-Delta Analysis

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P delta effect is very important for tall structures
P delta effect is very important for tall structures

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Published by: Muhammad Saqib Abrar on Feb 12, 2010
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04/30/2013

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An Overview of P-Delta Analysis
An Overview of P-Delta Analysis
by Richard Dobson - Technical Director for S-Frame TM and 3D+TM, CSC(UK) Ltd.
Joining up thedots
In last month’s edition of New Steel Construction, David Brown’s article “Multi-storey Frame Design” 1 explained with great clarity the intended design processfor assessing medium sized, orthodox multi-storey frames for sway sensitivity inaccordance with BS5950-1:2000.In addition, Alan Rathbone’s article “Second-order effects who needs them?” 2 inthe Structural Engineer takes the issue one step forward to the more generalaspect of why P-Delta effects are important in the context of multi-storey building design.Both articles focus on multi-storey buildings and talk through the methods usedin BS5950-1:2000 to account for P-Delta effects, either ignoring them becausethey are small enough, or including them using the k
amp
method. This article isaimed primarily at structures that can not be considered as “medium sizedorthodox multi-storey buildings” or for structures where
λ
crit
< 4.For these structures, an alternative route is available to account for P-Delta effectsdirectly at the analysis stage, thereby incorporating the additional forces andmoments required in design.The objective of this article is to provide engineers with a short introduction tothe different methods of P-Delta analysis currently available in commercialsoftware form.
 
An Overview of P-Delta Analysis
What are the P-Delta effects?
P-Delta is a non-linear effect that occurs in every structure where elements aresubject to axial load. P-Delta is actually only one of many second-order effects. Itis a genuine “effect” that is associated with the magnitude of the applied axial load(P) and a displacement (delta).There are two P-Delta effects:
P-“BIG” delta (P-
) - a structure effect
P-“little” delta (P-
δ
) - a member effectThe magnitude of the P-Delta effect is related to the:
magnitude of axial load P,
stiffness/slenderness of the structure as a whole,
slenderness of individual elements.
P-”BIG” delta (P
)P-littledelta (P
δ  
 
An Overview of P-Delta Analysis
Setting thescene
Engineers today typically use linear elastic static (first order) analysis todetermine design forces and moments resulting from loads acting on a structure.First order analysis assumes small deflection behaviour; the resulting forces andmoments take no account of the additional effect due to the deformation of thestructure under load.Second-order analysis when accounting for P-Delta combines two effects toreach a solution:
large displacement theory - the resulting forces and moments take fullaccount of the effects due to the deformed shape of both the structure and itsmembers,
stress stiffening” - the effect of element axial loads on structure stiffness.Tensile loads straighten the geometry of an element thereby stiffening it.Compressive loads accentuate deformation thereby reducing the stiffness of the element.As structures become ever more slender and less resistant to deformation, theneed to consider the P-Delta effect increases. To reflect this, Codes of Practice arereferring engineers more and more to the use of second-order analysis in orderthat P-Delta and “stress stiffening” effects are accounted for, when appropriate, indesign. This is as true in concrete and timber design as it is in the design of steelwork.Engineers have been aware of the P-Delta effects for many years. However, it isonly relatively recently that the computational power has become widely availableto provide analytical approximations.In the absence of more rigorous analysis capabilities, in the past, many designcodes have incorporated empirical checks and “Good Practice” design guidanceto ensure that the magnitude of the P-Delta effect stays within limits for which

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