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73 ᎐ 78
Behaviour of precast reinforced concrete pile caps
Toong Khuan Chana,U , Chee Keong Pohb
School of Ci¨ il and Structural Engineering, Nanyang Technological Uni¨ ersity, Nanyang A¨ enue, Singapore 639798, Singapore b Land Transport Authority, Singapore, Singapore Received 5 July 1999; received in revised form 1 November 1999; accepted 6 January 2000
Abstract The objective of this investigation is to study the behaviour of precast reinforced concrete pile caps and the ultimate load-carrying capacity. Three pile cap units were cast and tested to failure. One unit was a control pile cap cast in situ and the other two were precast reinforced units with in situ concrete inﬁll. The experimental results showed that the precast pile cap behaved in a similar manner as compared with the conventional cast in situ pile cap. Furthermore, all the three units failed at loads exceeding the failure loads predicted using conventional design methods and exhibited predicted failure modes. In addition, there was a substantial increase in productivity as the precast pile caps could be constructed quickly and thus reducing the risk of exposing the excavated pit to rain and possible failure of the unsupported sides. ᮊ 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Precast; Pile caps; Ultimate load
1. Introduction The current trend of increasing efﬁciency and productivity in the management of construction activities has placed considerable emphasis on the use of precast members where off-site manufacture, under controlled conditions, and uncoupled from site processes and delays, can provide a constant supply of precast elements. The use of precast elements is more crucial at locations where heavy rains can cause serious delays due to a difﬁcult working environment. This is particularly evident for foundation works in soft or slimy soils where heavy rainfall can cause the sides of the excavation to fail and thus requires further time and effort to rectify the excavation. The construction of conventional cast in situ pile caps Žsee Fig. 1. requires an excavation for the pile cap,
Corresponding author. Tel.: q65-790-5283; fax: q65-791-0676. E-mail address: email@example.com ŽT.K. Chan.
base preparation with a layer of lean concrete, construction of forms, installation of a steel reinforcement cage and placing of fresh concrete. This sequence of work may easily take up to 2 days for a small pile cap of 1 ᎐ 2 m width. The steel cage may be pre-constructed and lifted into the pit to speed up this process. This current practice is vulnerable to heavy rains especially when the surrounding soil is weak. Flooding followed by failure of the sides of the pit is not uncommon. An innovative system of precast pile caps is proposed where no extensive ground preparation or external forms are required. The steel cage can be constructed separately and cast with a thin layer of concrete on the sides to form a precast reinforced concrete shell as illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3. This shell serves as a permanent form for the pile cap and rests directly on the cut-off piles. The precast shell is then inﬁlled with in situ concrete to complete the construction of the pile cap. A lean concrete layer, which is normally required to provide a ﬁrm base, may not be necessary with this system.
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After proper alignment of the precast element and the addition of the column starter bars. Fig. The sides of the steel cage are cast with a thin layer of concrete of approximately 70 mm to provide an outer cover of at least 50 mm to the steel bars. leaving a small clearance between the precast shell and the ground. Poh r Construction and Building Materials 14 (2000) 73 ᎐ 78 The bottom steel bars provide all necessary anchorage between the precast shell and the cast in situ concrete. as the in situ concrete will protect the bars. and tension ties equilibrating the outward components of the compression thrusts. Consequently. 2. the beam method.2x allows both the beam approach and the strut-and-tie method to be used for the design of pile caps. with compression struts transferring load from the column to the top of the piles. and Žii.K. The bottom of the steel cage is left open to enable it to rest on the top of the piles. the reinforcement in the pile cap for bending is placed uniformly across the full width of the cap.74 T.K. The bending moment is taken as the sum of the moments acting from the centre of the pile to the column face. the pile cap can be inﬁlled with fresh concrete. 2. The tension ties have constant forces in them and must be anchored for the full horizontal tie force outside the intersection of the pile and the compression strut. Chan. When the pile cap is designed by beam theory. . The British design code for the structural use of concrete w1. the strut-and-tie analogy method. The objectives of this project are to compare the ultimate load-carrying capacity of precast reinforced concrete pile caps with conventional cast in situ pile caps and to study the behaviour of these precast units. Design concept The concept of this precast pile cap is to cast a thin concrete shell together with the steel reinforcement cage to provide a permanent form to hold the fresh concrete. Two approaches are available for the analysis of pile caps: Ži. C. No curtailment of reinforcement within the cap is allowed and full anchorage must be provided beyond the piles. The reinforcement bars are Fig. Unit B: precast reinforced concrete shell with cast in situ concrete inﬁll. The pile cap can also be idealised as a strut-and-tie model w3 ᎐ 6x. Unit A: conventional cast in situ pile cap. Inner cover to the steel is not required. 1. it is assumed to act as a beam spanning between the piles and is designed for usual conditions of bending and shear. No previous experimental work on precast pile caps was reported in the literature.
Tensile tests on the reinforcing bars were also carried out to determine the yield strength. precast shell Pile cap C. Unit C: precast reinforced concrete shell with cast in situ concrete inﬁll. 3.3 35. respectively. which are provided in the precast shell. Test load arrangement. but precast with a shell thickness of 70 mm. Fig. cast in situ Pile cap B. 3.8 36. The details of the specimens are shown in Figs. 4. Three 100-mm cubes were cast for each batch of concrete made and were tested on the same day as the load test on the pile cap units. C. The vertical displacements and strain gauge readings were automatically recorded during the tests using a computerised data acquisition system. The precast pile cap conforms to the assumptions of both these methods of analysis as the embedding of the steel bars into the precast shell provides the necessary anchorage. which in turn were supported on rocker bearing supports as shown in Fig. The precast shells were left to cure for at least 28 days before the in situ concrete inﬁll. which was used to transfer the load onto the column stump.4 480. Care was taken to check the unit for visible cracks. The third unit of 1000 = 1000 = 300 mm was precast and was constructed with a larger amount of reinforcement to investigate failure in shear.7 75 Steel Fig. 4. 2 and 3. The interface between the shell and the in situ concrete is subjected to only compressive forces and needs no further ties.7 33. A 2000-kN testing frame was used to apply compressive load onto the units. 39. Four 150-mm concrete cubes were utilised to represent the piles. A total of 20 electrical-resistance strain gauges ŽTML FLA-5-11. cast in situ inﬁll Pile cap C. The ﬁrst unit is a conventional cast in situ pile cap of 1000 = 1000 = 400 mm designed in accordance with BS8110 and to fail in ﬂexure. B and C. The load was increased at intervals of 20 kN until failure. cast in situ inﬁll 10-mm-diameter deformed bars Strength ŽMPa. A load cell was placed on top of a 20-mm steel plate. Displacement transducers were used to monitor deﬂections at various positions on the units during the test. The concrete in the compression zones is conﬁned by links. The second unit was of similar dimensions and steel reinforcements. were installed at various locations on selected reinforcing bars in the three units as shown in Figs.4 38. Methods Three pile cap units for a four-pile group were fabricated. Chan. 1 ᎐ 3. These units will be labelled as A. . placed in concentrated bands in the direction of the tie forces to resist the tensile forces.K.K. Poh r Construction and Building Materials 14 (2000) 73 ᎐ 78 Table 1 Results of material tests Material Concrete Type Pile cap A. precast shell Pile cap B.T. The four concrete pile supports were supported on 12-mm-thick steel plates. Each of the test results tabulated in Table 1 is the average of three cube specimens.
Pile cap B. Chan. When the load reached a maximum of 870 kN.K. The strains in the reinforcing bars exhibited a sudden increase after the appearance of the ﬁrst cracks at 450 kN. which was designed with a shallower depth and larger amount of steel reinforcement failed at a maximum load of 870 kN. However. . the unit failed at 38% higher load of 1230 kN. There was a similar increase in the strains in the reinforcing bars after the appearance of the ﬁrst cracks. Pile cap A was predicted to fail at a total load of 890 kN by the design equations of BS8110.07 A B C Fig. Pile cap C.30 0. The load continued to increase at a lower rate up to a maximum of 1230 kN where the unit continued to deﬂect with no further increase in load. Poh r Construction and Building Materials 14 (2000) 73 ᎐ 78 Table 2 Crack width observations at ﬁrst crack Unit Load ŽkN. At the maxiTable 3 Comparison of experimental and predicted failure loads Unit Failure load ŽkN.20 West 0. The failure load was 7% higher than the prediction of BS8110. 890 890 904 Shear ŽkN.24 0. There was a signiﬁcant drop in the stiffness of the pile cap after the ﬁrst crack at 450 kN.K.72 Crack width Žmm.18 0.20 0.12 East 0. North 0.76 T. 5.08 A B C 4. 5.92 1. Results The observed load-deﬂection relationships at the pile cap centre. are shown in Fig. 1230 1250 870 BS8110 predicted loads Flexure ŽkN.24 0. a shear failure occurred with a punching cone extending from the outside faces of the column to the inside edges of the piles.16 0. The strains in the reinforcing bars exhibited a sudden increase after the appearance of the ﬁrst cracks. Load-displacement behaviour of the pile cap units. with ﬂexure being critical. The strains continued to increase as the load was increased and were all beyond the yield stress at the maximum load. This point coincided with the appearance of the ﬁrst crack in the unit. 840 900 450 Disp. 1.rPred.26 0. The load carrying capacity began to reduce noticeably after a deﬂection of more than 6 mm. The load-displacement behaviour was very similar to specimen A with the ﬁrst crack at a load of 900 kN and a 0. The load-deﬂection curve was linear up to a point of more than 800 kN.41 1. an increase of 41% over the BS8110 predictions. 1. respectively. 1240 1240 811 Load ratio Exp. C. has the same predicted failure load.38 1. where a deﬁnite softening occurred. At the maximum load. which has similar reinforcing steel ratio and layout. for the three units. The observed crack widths and ultimate loads of the three pile cap units are tabulated in Tables 2 and 3. The ultimate load was also very similar at 1250 kN. the strains in the reinforcing bars have exceeded yield stress. Žmm.12 0.05-mm difference in maximum centre displacement at ultimate load compared with pile cap A.87 1.14 South 0.
The crack patterns for both units A and B were similar. Failure of unit C was with a square crack pattern within the four piles indicative of punching shear failure. there were cracks at the bottom of pile cap C that ran Fig. As in pile cap A. However. Crack patterns at the sofﬁt of the pile cap units. Crack behaviour The pile caps typically had very few cracks prior to failure. the ﬂexural cracks extended diagonally towards the piles and failure was characterised by the rapid development of many new cracks on the vertical faces. Chan. Crack patterns at the sides of the pile cap units. Similarly. parallel to the sides of the unit. the largest crack width measured was 0. Units A and B failed in ﬂexure with ﬂexural cracks extending diagonally between the piles. Thus. Cracks ﬁrst appeared on the vertical faces of unit B at approximately 900 kN and the largest recorded crack width measured 0. Discussion The comparison of crack widths indicates that the precast unit B has slightly larger crack widths compared to the conventional cast in situ unit A. indicating a ‘drop’ of the concrete mass due to the punching shear failure. 7 shows the crack patterns at the sides of the pile caps. extending diagonally towards the piles and propagating outwards. the cracks originated from the bottom centre of the unit. Cracks were ﬁrst observed on the vertical faces of the unit when the loading was approximately 840 kN.K.24 mm. At this loading. In contrast to pile caps A and B.30 mm. The ﬂexural cracks originated from the centre of the sofﬁt of pile cap A. 5.20 mm. Fig. Fig. 7. 6. a punching cone had extended from the loaded area to the inside of the piles. Poh r Construction and Building Materials 14 (2000) 73 ᎐ 78 77 mum load. . C. 6. Many new cracks developed on the four vertical faces of the unit just before the failure load was reached.T. all the measured strains in the reinforcing bars were observed to have exceeded the yield stress indicating that the pile cap was also close to its ﬂexural capacity.K. Cracks were ﬁrst observed on the vertical faces of unit C at a load of 450 kN with the largest crack width being 0. 6 shows the deformation pattern at the sofﬁt of the pile caps at failure and Fig.
Strut-and-tie model for shear behaviour in deep beams and pile caps failing in diagonal splitting. No shrinkage cracks were observed at the bottom face of the precast units as the pile caps were provided with a reinforcement ratio of 0. The durability of these precast units should not differ signiﬁcantly from conventional pile caps as the interface is not under tensile stresses. These ﬁndings lead to the conclusion that the precast pile cap is a feasible method of construction. w5x Adebar P.93Ž4. aligned.90Ž4. w2x Taylor HPJ. w9x The Institution of Structural Engineers. w7x Rowe RE.0013 to be provided in two orthogonal directions on the top and bottom faces of pile caps w9x. However. ACI Struct J 1996. London. The Institution of Civil Engineers. In addition. ACI Struct J 1990. a faint shrinkage crack was observed at the top surface between the precast shell and the concrete inﬁll as no top steel was provided for these units. Poh r Construction and Building Materials 14 (2000) 73 ᎐ 78 the ﬁrst crack occurred at a marginally higher load in the precast unit.:19 ᎐ 32. Collins MP. there was a substantial increase in productivity as the precast shells could be placed over the cut piles.:437 ᎐ 448.:81 ᎐ 92. w8x Beeby AW. 1985: structural use of concrete. loads at which these cracks occurred and the crack patterns that the precast pile cap exhibits similar behaviour as a conventional cast in situ pile cap. UK: The Institution of Structural Engineers.5 mm very rarely pose any particular corrosion risk. Struct Eng 1976.7 and 0. Department of Energy. w3x Canadian Standards Association. Chan.K.87Ž1. The behaviour of the precast unit is similar to the corresponding cast in situ unit with only a slight increase in crack widths. Strut-and-tie models for the design of pile caps: an experimental study.78 T.K. 1 CIRIArUEG. which is effectively conﬁned by the precast shell. Palladian Publications Ltd. whatever the nature of the environment w7.0016. It should be further noted that more durable concrete could be provided for the precast shell to provide additional resistance to chemical attack although it has been reported that small cracks of less than 0. 1987. Some detailing problems in concrete frame structures. w6x Siao WB. The risk of exposing the excavated pit to rain and possible failure of the unsupported sides was also reduced.8x. The interface between the in situ concrete and the precast shell is not subjected to large stresses based on the beam approach as the moment of resistance is assumed to fall off according to the bending moment diagram and therefore only nominal steel is required beyond the pile. Concrete in the oceans report No. CAN3-A23. The results suggest that the precast shell does not reduce the load-carrying capacity or cause a weak joint in the function of the pile cap. 1978. Kuchma D. ACI Struct J 1993. References w1x British Standards Institution. British Standards Institution. According to the strut-and-tie model w4 ᎐ 6x. Pile cap B cracked at a slightly higher load compared to the conventionally cast pile cap A. Sommerville G. Manual for the design of reinforced concrete building structures. 1994 w4x Adebar P. The loads at which these cracks occurred in units A and B were higher than the estimated working loads that the pile caps were designed for. London: Cement and Concrete Association. Handbook to British Standard BS8110. The failure loads of the precast pile cap can be predicted using conventional design equations as reported in these tests. The provision of minimum steel at the top face would eliminate the shrinkage cracks. Clarke JL. the ﬂow of forces is within the concrete unit and the concrete in the shell does not contribute to the areas which comprise the compression struts. 1985. October 1985. Beeby AW et al. This was more than the recommended reinforcement ratio of 0. respectively. 7. levelled and inﬁlled with concrete in a short time.:356 ᎐ 363. . The ﬁrst crack unit C occurred at approximately the designed working load of the pile cap. There were no cracks at the sofﬁt of pile caps B and C until the loads exceeded 0. It is therefore expected that current design equations for conventional cast in situ construction can be used to predict the failure loads of the pre cast units although the predictions may be conservative in certain cases. conﬁrming that the precast shell did not induce cracking at a lower load or at the interface. The nodal zones of high compressive stresses are entirely within the in situ concrete. C.3-M94 Design of concrete structures for buildings. The interface is therefore under compressive conﬁning stresses and not expected to fail. Cracking and corrosion. It is evident from the crack widths. Canadian Standards Association. Extending the steel bars into the precast segment provides full anchorage of the tension tie.54Ž1.5 of the ultimate load. Summary and conclusions A comparison of the observed failure loads of the two precast test units with predictions from the British code indicates that the failure load of precast pile caps was approximately 40% and 7% higher when the units failed in ﬂexure and shear. respectively. BS 8110 Part 1: 1985 structural use of concrete. Zhou LZ. Design of deep pile caps by strut-and-tie models.
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