Characterisation of steel reinforcement for RC structures: An overview and related issues

P. Prabir C. Basu, Shylamoni P. and Roshan A. D.

Characterisation of steel reinforcement is as important as that of concrete ingredients. The paper presents an overview of characterisation along with some related issues. After briefly highlighting the mechanics of RC structures, important characteristics of reinforcement, namely, bond with concrete, strength, ductility, resistance to corrosion are discussed. The effects of manufacturing process on the rebar characteristics are then described. Finally, a comparison of specifications of standards of different countries dealing with reinforcing steel is presented. The authors have suggested certain modifications in the Indian specifications IS 1786.
Steel is the time proven match for reinforcing concrete structures. Reinforced concrete structure is designed on the principle that steel and concrete act together to withstand induced forces. The properties of thermal expansion for both steel and concrete are approximately the same, this along with excellent bendability property makes steel the best material as reinforcement in concrete structures. Another reason steel works effectively as reinforcement is that it bonds well with concrete. When passive reinforcement (steel bars) is employed, the structure is known as reinforced concrete (RC) structure. In prestressed concrete structure, the reinforcement (steel wire) is stressed prior to subjecting the structure to loading, which may be viewed as active reinforcement. Passive steel reinforcing bars, also known as rebars, should necessarily be strong in tension and, at the same time, be ductile enough to be shaped or bent. Rebars are rolled from billets that are obtained from a furnace. Billets can be produced either from iron-ore through the blast furnace converter route, or by melting scraps and refining the same in the furnace. When billets are produced from scrap, they are known as re-rollables. IS : 17861 allows manufacture of billets for reinforcing steel by open hearth,

electric, duplex, basic-oxygen or a combination of these processes. Higher strength is imparted to rebars either by post rolling process or by adopting additional measures during manufacturing of billets. Rebars are generally rolled in round section. Ribs are indented on the surface of the deformed rebars or wires during the process of rolling. The prime objective of such deformation is the enhancement of bonding with concrete by mechanical interlocking. In India, construction of reinforced concrete structures started about 100 years back. Plain mild steel (MS) rebars of grade Fe-250 were used widely till about 1967. Square twisted bars (deformed bars) were first introduced in India in 1965. But this was phased out due to their inherent inadequacies. The high yield strength was first imparted to the rebars by raising carbon as well as manganese contents, and to a great extent, by cold twisting. The cold twisted deformed (CTD) bars are produced by cold working process, which is basically a mechanical process. It involves stretching and twisting of mild steel, beyond the yield plateau, and subsequently releasing the load. CTD round rebars having yield strength in the range of 405 MPa (Grade 40) were introduced in 1967. Since then, there has been an increasing demand for high strength deformed bars. Thermomechanically treated (TMT) bars were introduced in India during 1980-1985. Thermo mechanical treatment is an advanced heat treatment process in which hot bars coming out of last rolling mill stand are rapidly quenched through a series of water jets. Rapid quenching provides intensive cooling of surface resulting in the bars having hardened surface with hot core. The rebars are then allowed to cool in ambient conditions. During the course of such slow cooling, the heat released from core tempers the hardened surface while core is turned in to ferrite-pearlite aggregate composition. TMT process thus changes the structure of

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material to a c o m p o s i t e structure of ductile ferritep e a r l i t e composition with tough surface rim of tempered martensite providing an o p t i m u m combination of high strength, ductility, bendability and other desirable properties. TMT bars of grade Fe415, Fe500 and Fe550 are now available in India. Now-a-days, alloy steels are also being introduced as reinforcing steel. Microalloying is found to be an efficient way to improve the properties of steel for rebars. Three grades of rebar are presently available in India for structural use. The rebars are graded according to their specified yield strength. These are Fe415, Fe500 and Fe550. CTD rebars of grade more than Fe415 are scarcely available in market. However, TMT rebars of Fe500 grade are easily available in the market. Fe250 grade mild steel rebars are also available, but these are presently used generally as secondary reinforcement such as distribution steel in slabs, stirrups in beams and column ties.

Typical cross sections of MS, CTD and TMT rebars are shown in Fig 1. For engineering a sound and durable concrete structure, it is essential to use reinforcement of appropriate characteristics and quality. Characterisation is a process to control and ensure the quality of a material. Principal objective of characterisation of a material is to ensure that it possesses the requisite properties necessary for its intended engineering usage. Properties of rebars are influenced by the chemical composition of the steel from which it is manufactured. Table 1 shows the influence of different chemical ingredients of steel on the properties of rebar. Characterisation is generally performed by checking the chemical composition and certain specified physical properties. The particular chemical ingredients and physical properties, which are selected for characterisation, again depend on the attributes of the material that are important for its specified application. A summary of specifications for rebar characterisations as per Indian standards is given in Table 2.

Characterisation of steel rebars is as important as that of concrete for a sound RC structure of desired strength. Present paper tries to address the various aspects of characterisation of reinforcement and also related issues, which are important for design. Only passive reinforcement bars falls within the scope of the paper. Clear understanding of mechanics of reinforced concrete structures helps in understanding the intricacy involved with the characterisation of rebars. Moreover, basic knowledge on manufacturing process of steel Table 1: Influence of different chemical ingredients in steel on properties of rebars helps in appreciating various facets No Chemicals Effects on rebars of the characterisation. These two Controlling Actual effect aspects are also discussed briefly property in the paper along with issues 1 Carbon (C) Hardness, Higher carbon contributes to the tensile strength of steel, that is, higher load related to characteristics of rebars strength, bearing capacity and vice versa. Lower carbon content less than 0.1 percent weldability and will reduce the strength. Higher carbon content of 0.3 percent and above vis-a-vis performance of RC brittleness makes the steel bar unweldable and brittle. structure. A comparative study of 2 Manganese Strength and The manganese content in steel is not specified as per IS: 1786. the national standards of a few (Mn) yield strength However higher manganese content in steel increases the tensile strength countries is presented followed by and also the carbon equivalent property. concluding remarks.
3 Sulphur (S) Present as an impurity in steel which increases its brittleness. Presence of sulphur should be limited as per IS:1786. Presence of higher sulphur makes the bar brittle during twisting, as higher sulphur content brings the hot shot problem during rolling.


Phosphorus (P)

Present as an impurity which increases strength and brittleness Strength and corrosion resistance properties Weldability and corrosion resistance

Higher phosphorus content contributes to the increase in strength and corrosion resistance properties but brings brittleness due to the formation of low euctoid phosphicles in the grain boundary. Also lowers the impact value at sub zero temperature level (transition temperature). Being a pearlite stabiliser, it increases the strength and corrosion resistance property

Brief overview of mechanics of RC structures
Reactions are induced within structural elements under the action of applied forces. In threedimensional cartesian co-ordinate systems, these reactions are translational forces along the three coordinate axes (axial and two shear forces) and moments about these three axes (twisting moment and bending moments). Structures may fail in many ways due to the action of these induced forces. Out of which, three types of failures, namely, stability failure, strength failure and serviceability failure are


Copper (Cu)


Chromium (Cr) Carbon Equivalent (CE or Ceq)

Present as an impurity from the scrap and influences carbon equivalent; weldability and increases corrosion resistance property.


Hardness, This property is required to set the cooling parameters in TMT process tensile strength and a slight variation in carbon equivalent may alter the physical and weldability properties. In case of CTD bars, carbon equivalent has a maximum limit of 0.42 percent but there is no lower limit prescribed. As such, as long as the chemical composition and physical properties of raw materials are within specified limits, the variation in carbon equivalent as in the case of TMT bars.


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Table 2: Summary of specifications for rebar characterisation
No 1. Characteristics Chemical composition (a) Mild steel (i) Carbon Dia ≤ 20mm Dia > 20mm (ii) Sulfur (iii) Phosphorus (b) High strength deformed bars (i) Carbon (ii) Sulfur (iii) Phosphorus 2. Mechanical properties (a) Mild steel (i) Ultimate tensile strength (ii) Yield stress Dia ≤ 20mm Dia > 20mm (iii) Elongation (b) High strength deformed bars (i) 0.2 percent proof stress (ii) Ultimate strength (iii) Elongation gauge length 5.65 √A 3. 4. Bendability Tolerance of nominal mass Dia ≤ 10mm 10 ≤ Dia ≤ 16 Dia > 16mm Ribs of high strength deformed bars Specification IS 2026

IS 1786


IS 43215 /IS 202614

that tensile steel provided is so low in quantity that the neutral axis is close to the mid-depth of the rectangular beam (nearer to the compression edge), such that the maximum concrete strain, εcu, is attained simultaneously when the tensile rebar is yielded3,4. The concept of under reinforced design of beam of singly reinforced section is explained in Fig 2. The maximum allowable strain in concrete, εcu, under flexure is limited to 0.0035 as per IS 456 : 20005. Strain in rebar at the limit state of collapse could be more and there is no restriction on its maximum value. This implies that the reinforcing steel should have high capability of elongation after yielding. This is a very important characteristic of reinforcing steel for underreinforced design. The concept of under-reinforced section is important for achieving ductile design of structure. One of the important applications of ductile design is the aseismic design of the 6 structures . Structures are expected to experience more severe ground motion than the one specified in codes for design. Utilising ductile behaviour of the structure is therefore most desirable as this enables the structure to withstand higher shocks without collapse. Considering this, IS 1893, has laid down regulations so that the structure shall suffer only a 7 desired level of damage during earthquake of all magnitudes . Rather, the objective is to ensure that, as far as possible, structures are able to respond without much structural damage to shocks of moderate intensities, and without collapse to shocks of high intensities. Shear failure is a brittle type of failure and occurs without warning. Such type of failure should be avoided as far as possible by appropriate design measures. In the shear design, reinforcement is restrained from yielding. The basic principle behind the design of a RC structure is to achieve ductile rather than brittle failure of the structure. Ductility refers to a structure’s ability to undergo large deformation before failure and dissipate more energy. This means that the structure will not fail without sufficient prior warning, and will be capable of large plastic deformations at near maximum load-carrying capacity. Concrete is

IS 17861

IS 1786 / IS 432



± 7 percent per metre run ± 5 percent per metre run ± 3 percent per meter run IS 17861


Note: Sampling for quality control should satisfy the requirements of IS 10790

important in most of the design cases. Stability failure usually relates to overall structural systems, whereas strength failure relates to elements of a structure. Serviceability failure is related to both overall structures as well as to individual element. Reinforcement plays a key role in the design and construction of sound and durable structures for strength and serviceability. Failure modes of RC structural elements due to the induced forces (six degrees of freedom) are generally categorized in two groups for the design: • axial force and flexure • torsion and shear. For the design of RC structural elements subjected to biaxial bending or shear force (along two axes), bi-axial moments or shear forces (along two axes) are decoupled to uniaxial moments or shear forces along each axis and the design is performed separately for each uniaxial forces along with corresponding moments. Adequacy of reinforcement as well as strength of elements against the effect of combined biaxial moments or forces is checked by satisfying interaction equations. For flexure design of the concrete structural elements, it is desirable to have enough warning time before failure. Concrete itself cannot provide such warning. It is the properties of steel reinforcement as well as judicious selection of its type/quantity, which contribute this attribute to the designed section. Under-reinforced design of section for bending moment is important in this respect2,3. The ultimate strength of under reinforced beams is computed on the basis

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of rebar is also an important factor for fixing embedded parts in the concrete before pouring. To summarise, attributes of reinforcements that are important for engineering of sound and durable RC structures are: • bond with concrete • strength • ductility • resistance against corrosion. Enhancement of strength by cold working process or by changing chemical composition (for example increase in carbon content) has conflicting effect in the ductility and weldability. Therefore, balancing of conflicting requirements is required in fixing the characteristics of rebar to strike an optimum balance between strength, ductility, durability and cost.

Bond with concrete
The bond between rebar and concrete depends upon many factors, such as shape, geometry of ribs. Steel rebars are generally round in cross section. To restrict longitudinal movement of the bars relative to the surrounding concrete, lugs or protrusions called deformations or ribs are rolled on to the bar surface. For appropriate bond strength, the deformations of ribs of rebar 1 should satisfy certain specifications .

comparatively brittle material. It is the steel reinforcement whose ductile property is the main contributor to the overall ductile behaviour of designed section of a RC structural element. IS 456 allows re-distribution of moments for the design of structural elements, such as slabs and beams, supporting gravity loads. Studies established that ductility of rebar enhances the available capacity of concrete section of such elements for moment re-distribution8, 9.

Typical stress strain curve of monotonically loaded (tension) mild steel rebar is shown in Fig 3(a). The curves exhibit an initial elastic portion, a yield plateau (that is, a yield point beyond which the strain increases with little or no increase in stress), a strain hardening range in which stress again increases with strain, and finally a range in which the stress drops off until fracture occurs. The slope of the linear elastic portion of the curve represents the modulus of elasticity of steel. The stress at the yield point, referred as the yield strength, is a very important property of steel reinforcement. Reinforcement is generally characterized by its yield strength. Stress-strain curves of the steel in compression and tension are considered to be the same. In case of mild steel, yielding sometimes is accompanied by an abrupt decrease in stress, and the stress-strain diagram has two stress (yield) levels, which are marked as A and B in Fig 3(a). Points A and B are referred as upper and lower yield strengths respectively. The position of the upper yield point depends on the speed of testing, the shape of the section and the form of the specimen. The lower yield strength is usually considered as the true characteristic of the material and simply referred as yield strength, which is around 250 MPa for mild steel rebars.

Important characteristics of reinforcement
Good strength, bond with concrete, thermal expansion characteristics (similar to concrete) and bendability are prime attributes which make steel rebars most effective reinforcing material for engineering of RC structures. Besides strength, the durability of the structure depends upon rebar quality. Durability is the ability of the structure to maintain safety and serviceability criteria during its design life. Durability is dependent on the condition of concrete and reinforcement. Corrosion of reinforcement is one of the main factors that could impair durability. Corrosion can be either due to chloride intrusion or due to the effect of carbonation. Chemical composition of reinforcement plays an important role in this respect. Two characteristics of rebars — bendability and weldability — are important for construction. Bendability is essential from giving requisite shape to the rebar to suit the demand of the structures. Sometimes, welding of high diameter rebars is resorted to reduce congestion. Weldability


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In cold working (stretching and twisting) process, the mild steel bar is subjected to repeated loading. the steel will follow a similar linear elastic path, as that of original mild steel till it reaches the point where unloading started, which becomes the new yield point, Fig 3(b). The cold working of steel can cause the shortening of the yield plateau or even eliminating it completely. Desired increase in yield strength is achieved by appropriate selection of unloading point Fig 3(b). This is why high strength bars generally do not exhibit definite yield strength as that in case of mild steel. Fig 3(c) presents a typical stress strain curve of cold twisted high strength rebar. Cold working process is simple, reliable as well as cost effective, but reduces elongation of rebar compared to mild steel. In India most of the high strength deformed bars are manufactured by cold working process. CTD bars does not exhibit specific yield point and 0.2 percent proof stress is taken as yield strength, Fig 3(c). Stress-strain curve of TMT bars is similar to that for MS bars, Fig 3(d). But in case of TMT bars, there are no distinct yield plateau and two yield points. The actual yield strength of the rebar is usually somewhat higher than that considered in design. The specified yield strength normally refers to a guaranteed minimum value of the yield strength — lower yield strength in case of mild steel rebar. Fatigue strength of reinforcement depends on its yield strength and rebars having higher fatigue strength have better capability of withstanding dynamic loads. Bond strength signifies its ability for holding concrete around it. It depends on the reinforcing properties of the bars, such as yield strength, adhesion with concrete matrix, indentation (configuration of deformed shape). to the strain corresponding to 0.2 percent proof stress. For a given value of εy, µ increases with εu, which increases with elongation of rebars. This makes elongation a good indicator of ductility and is used as a parameter to characterise the rebar for ductility. Under the repetitive loading when the load is released before failure, the specimen will recover along a stress-strain path that is parallel to the original curve, Fig 3(b), with perhaps a small hysteresis and/or strain-hardening effect. The virgin curve is then closely followed, as if unloading had not occurred. Hence, the monotonic stress-strain curve gives a good idealization for the envelope curve of rebar under repeated loading of the same sign2.

During initial period of reinforced concrete construction, requirement of ductility was considered synonymous with bendability. However, ductility of reinforcement has been found to have far reaching effects on the safety and durability of the structure. The physical property of rebar, which is responsible for ductility, is its elongation. As discussed earlier, ductility refers to ability of dissipating energy and large deformation. Ductility of a beam under flexure, µf, is given by, µf
φu = φ y


Where, φu and φy are the curvature of the section at collapse and yield state respectively. Ductility of rebar, which has significant influence on µf, is expressed as the ratio of ultimate deformation at collapse to deformation at yielding. Referring to Fig 3(a), the ductility of a mild steel rebar under the monotonic tensile loading is given by


εu = ε y


Where µ, εu and εy are ductility factor, ultimate strain and yield strain of the rebars respectively. In CTD bars, εy refers

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Resistance against corrosion
Resistance of rebars against corrosion depends upon its chemical composition. Corrosion of rebars in reinforced concrete structure is a complex phenomenon. Corrosion of steel occurs due to a number of initiating causes that expose the rebars to moisture and oxygen either by carbonation or chloride intrusion. During the process of cement hydration, a thin protective alkaline passive film is formed around rebars. Corrosion process is initiated when this protective film is broken. Though good quality concrete is a pre-requisite for the corrosion resistance of RC structure, the quality of rebars has also a significant influence on it. No carbon steel reinforcement bar could be termed as corrosion resistant steel; one type may have lower corrosion potential than the other. Experience shows that MS rebars are more corrosion resistant than CTD bars. Possible reasons for higher corrosion resistance of MS reinforcement bars compared to that of CTD and also of TMT rebar are listed below. (i) In the manufacture of MS bars, a thin film is formed around the bars during cooling operation, and this film acts as a barrier. This barrier retards the initiation of corrosion in MS bars. In the case of TMT bars this film almost does not exist, while for CTD bars the thin film is lost during the twisting process. (ii) During the cold twisting process a part of residual strain is withheld in the periphery of the CTD bars. This locked-in strain initiates the corrosion process faster. (iii) The level of induced stresses in CTD and TMT rebars are much higher than those in MS bars which again enhances the potential of initiating corrosion .

Requirement of ductility is more important where the structure is subjected to cyclic loading (for example, earthquake load) or impact. If axial loading of cyclic nature (tension-compression) is applied to a mild steel specimen in the yield range, a stress-strain curve of the type presented in Fig 4 is obtained. Due to Bauschinger effect, that is, strain softening that takes place under reversed loading, the stressstrain curve becomes nonlinear at a stress much lower than the initial yield strength2. This behaviour of steel bars is strongly influenced by previous strain history; time and temperature also have an effect. The unloading path follows the initial elastic slope. An idealisation by Kato et al22, based on observation of experimental stress-strain data, obtains the stress-strain curve for reversed loading from the monotonic curves for tension and compression in the manner illustrated in Fig 5. The reversed load diagram (Fig 5(a)) is divided in curves corresponding to loadings attained for the first time, unloading branches (straight lines), and loadings attained in previous cycles (softened curves due to the Bauschinger effect). The parts of the diagram of the same sign can be plotted in sequence, as in Fig 5(b). Connecting the segments of the first loading branches end for end (Fig 5(c)) leads to a diagram similar to the monotonic curves. A difference exists at the initial part of the curve in compression, which is considerably curved, compared with the monotonic curve. The above discussion essentially indicates that the behaviour with respect to ductility of rebar, against monotonic, repetitive and cyclic loading can be characterised by means of ultimate strain at fracture or total elongation. The requirement of minimum strain at fracture or minimum elongation is specified in codes. Such specification is essential for the safety of the structure and in order to ensure that the steel is ductile enough to undergo large deformations before fracture. It may be noted that CTD bar has lesser elongation before fracture than the mild steels.

Effect of manufacturing process on rebar characteristics
Production of high-strength CTD bars are achieved through three stages: (i) manufacturing of billets (ii) rolling of billets into rebars, and


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(iii) process to impart further strength. Production of TMT rebars involves only the first two processes. All the stages have significant influence on the characteristics of rebars. In general, both the quality of basic materials used in rolling the rebars and its manufacturing process are important. Quality of metal scrap has utmost impact on the performance of rebars when re-rollables are used. Kaushik and Singh discussed in detail the influence of manufacturing process on the quality of rebars11. The so called mild steel rebars are rolled from general carbon steel billet without adopting any special measures or imparting further strength. In India, more than 50 percent of the rebars are manufactured from the re-rollables manufactured from the scrap materials such as scrap rails, automobile scrap, defense scrap, defectives from steel plants, and scrap generated from ship breaking or discarded structures. Composition of scrap steel was fixed based on the purpose of original usage from which the scrap is generated. Such composition may not always be suitable for manufacturing of rebars having required characteristics. It is necessary to refine the molten scrap to control the contents of carbon, sulphur, phosphorus etc. to desired levels. Though lower carbon content reduces the strength of steel, higher value makes steel brittle and unweldable. Higher sulphur and phosphorus content makes the steel brittle, even though higher phosphorus content may have beneficial effect like increasing strength and corrosion resistance. All these conflicting aspects indicate that certain level of refinement of the composition of steel is necessary. The desired refinement can be suitably achieved with the use of an electric arc furnace, which unfortunately is not being employed now-a-days due to prohibitive cost of production. Induction furnace is mostly used in India for manufacturing of rebars from scraps. It is well known that induction furnace cannot yield sufficient refinement of molten scrap to produce billets of desired quality. Enhancement of rebar strength is generally achieved by three processes: (i) cold working, (ii) thermo mechanical treatment (TMT), and (iii) micro alloying. The first process may be viewed as post rolling process while the second one is a part of rolling process and the third one is associated with the billet production process. The technology of producing CTD bars had been introduced in mechanised cooling bed across the country for a long time. Proper equipment, manpower and overall good quality of raw material are necessary for achieving appropriate quality of CTD bars. The effects of process parameters are established. For example, tensile strength can be controlled by pitch of the twist. The limitation of the process is that it cannot produce bars below 8 mm diameter. For the TMT process, rolling mill with automatic cooling bed is essential. Proper control during cooling of the rebars is

essential to ensure the quality of the finished products. Good quality of raw material (billet) and skilled manpower are of course the prerequisites for producing TMT bars of desired quality. The effect of process parameters on its characteristics are yet to be established. Corrosion resistance of TMT bars is claimed to be better than that of the CTD bars but certainly not better than MS bars. TMT rebars are more ductile and have better capability to withstand dynamic loading as their elongation is expected to be better at higher strengths. However, their fire resistance property is still in experimental stage. In micro alloying process, strengthening micro alloys like Niobium (Nb), Vanadium (V), Boron (B) and Titanium (Ti) are added during the production of billet. When individual ingredient or combination does not exceed 0.3 percent, the strength of rebars is increased. Other properties depend on other ingredients as usual. This is an expensive process and generally not employed in India. Performance by RC structures greatly depends on the quality of rebars; this need not require any emphasis. The danger is due to defective and/or substandard rebars found occasionally in the market. Defective or substandard rebars are produced due to several reasons: lack of quality control in the basic material used in the billet production process, rolling process and post rolling process. Defective bars are those that can be detected by visual inspection. However, on many occasions, visual inspection fails to identify substandard bars, which are generally identified by testing — mechanical tests to determine strength and stress-strain curve are very useful tools for this purpose. Substandard bars are more dangerous than the defective ones, as they cannot be detected visually by the users, especially in smaller projects. Fig 6 contains stress-strain curves of three samples of commercially-procured TMT rebars marketed as Fe 415 grade steel. Stress-strain curve of Fe415-CTD bar, as given in SP16 is also plotted in Fig 6. The difference between the three bars are obvious from this figure. Yield strength of sample-1 was tested as 511 MPa and its elongation is quite high, this sample is acceptable as per IS I7861. Yield strength of sample-2 is acceptable but its elongation is low and hence is liable to be rejected. Sample-3 was not acceptable as its yield strength was 380 MPa — lower than the specified value. Performance of these three rebars in design is illustrated with an example illustrated in Fig 7. The section was designed for the induced moments and shear force using Fe415 grade 12 CTD rebars following the provision of IS 456 and IS 13920 . Moment curvature (M-φ) diagram of this section is evaluated for the design stress-strain curve given in SP 164 for CTD rebar of grade Fe415 and those given in Fig 6. It may be mentioned that there is no design stress-strain curves specified by Bureau of Indian Standards for TMT either in IS 456 or SP 16 or IS 13920, though IS 13920 explicitly allows the usage of TMT bars. These M-φ curves are plotted in Fig 8. The curve evaluated using sample-1 is almost similar with that evaluated using CTD bars specified in SP-16 in linear zone and higher in nonlinear zone. M-φ curve using sample3 always falls below the curve determined using CTD rebar

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Table 3: Grades of rebar considered in the comparative study
Group 1 2 3 India

USA Grade-300
a b b


Australian / New Zealand
_ d


Fe415 Fe500

Grade-420 Grade-420 c Grade-520
_ b

A III Grade






A 500 S Grade
_ 1




500 L f 500 N 500 Ef

B500A g B500B -


Notes: a - Rebar conforming to IS 1786 ; b - Rebar conforming to ASTM A 615/A 615M17; c - Rebar conforming to ASTM A 706/A 706M18; d - Rebar conforming to 16 19 GOST 5781 ; e - Rebar conforming to STAOCHEM ; f - Rebar conforming to AS/ 20 13 NZS 4671 ; g - Rebar conforming to prEN 10080-1 -1999

specified in SP16. The ultimate moment of the section is lower even though the curvature is higher in case of sample3. Similar trend is observed for CTD bars of SP16. But in case of samples-1 and 2, while the ultimate moment is higher, the curvature at failure is lower indicating low ductility of the section. It is evident from Fig 8 that yielding of tension steel occurs in sample-3 and CTD bars of SP16 whereas the ultimate moment in sample 1 and 2 are achieved when concrete crushes. The moment-curvature diagrams of sample-3 and CTD bars of SP16 indicate well defined points for yield and ultimate curvatures and the curvature ductility factor is around 1.8. For samples 1 and 2, though their yield stresses are above acceptable limits, the moment curvature diagrams are characterised by a lack of well spaced points for yield and ultimate curvature of the specimens. Both the specimens show almost a linear behaviour before sudden failure. Variability of properties of rebars have very significant influence on the safety of structure. The variability can be minimised if the desired level of quality control in each phase of production is strictly adhered to. Statistical analysis of the test results of strength of about 500 samples were carried out for rebars designated as Grade-415 and the results are as below.
Yield strength Mean value Standard deviation Coefficient of variation 509.8 MPa 43 8.93 Ultimate strength 620.68 MPa 43.61 7.02

studied along with Indian Standard specifications. Three grades of rebar; Fe415, Fe500 and Fe550 or their equivalent are taken for this exercise and the equivalent grades adopted in the USA, European nations, Australia/New Zealand and Russian Federation are given in Table 3. Different grades of reinforcement, which are commonly used, are clustered in four groups. It is noted that there is only one grade of ASTM A706/A706M rebar available, which is Grade-420 recommended for earthquake resistant design. Australian/ New Zealand specification allows three categories of rebars of Grade-500: Class L (low ductility) – 500L, Class N (normal ductility) – 500N, and Class E (high ductility for earthquake prone region) – 500E. Similar observation can be made on Eurocode. From sustainability view point, the use of steel from scrap is inevitable now-a-days. In the USA and Europe, systems 11 exist for quality control of scrap to be used for steel making . Example of such systems are: Institution of Scrap Iron and Steel (ISIS), which provides code numbers that relate to 29 different types of scrap in the USA, and similar system by the Committee of National Scrap Federations and Association of the Common Market (COFENAF) in Europe. Unfortunately, no such system exists in India for controlling the scrap used in steel making. There exists a high risk in using rebars, re-rolled from scrap materials that do not adhere to the quality requirement of basic material in line with the relevant national specifications. Again, it may not always be possible for small users of rebars to institute quality control measures before procurement. Branding system is useful in this respect. American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) has established a standard for branding of deformed reinforcing bars. The branding system consists of marking the following on the reinforcing bars, • Manufacturer’s identity mark • Bar size • Type of steel: new billet (-N-), rolled rail steel (-I-) or rolled axle steel (-A-) Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has not specified any such system. The branding system may not be a full proof system. But, this is an effective system for a reasonable level of control, under the action of market dynamics, in selecting

The coefficient of variation of the yield strength, in the opinion of the authors, is on the higher side; it should be within 5 percent.

Comparison of specifications of different countries
Practices followed in different countries, for characterisation of rebars are outlined in the specifications published by the respective national bodies. A comparison of specifications of different countries would help to understand the status of IS specification vis-à-vis practices followed in other countries. Specifications followed in the USA, European nations (EN), Australia/New Zealand and Russian Federation (RF) were


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Table 4: Chemical composition of group-2 rebar (grade: 415 to 430)
Item IS 1786




Percentage Variation over 615M (c) 706M maximum specified percentage by percentage maximum manufacturer by purchaser limit, percentage, maximum Carbon Sulphur Sulphur and Phosphorus Manganese Silicon Nitogen Carbon equivalent Nickel Copper Chromium Notes: (a): For guaranteed weldability, the percentage of carbon shall be restricted to 0.25 percent maximum. (b): Addition of micro alloying elements is not mandatory for any of the above grades. When strengthening elements like Nb (Niobium), V (Vanadium), B (Boron) and Ti (Titanium) are used individually or in combination, the total contents shall not exceed 0.30 percent; in such case manufacturer shall supply the purchaser or his authorized representative a certificate stating that the total contents of strengthening elements in the steel do not exceed the specified limit. (c): (i) An analysis of each heat of steel shall be made by the manufacturer from test samples taken preferably during the pouring of the heats. The percentage of carbon, manganese, phosphorus, and sulphur shall be determined. The phosphorus content thus determined shall not exceed 0.06 percent. (ii) An analysis may be made by the purchaser from finished bars. The phosphorus content thus determined shall not exceed by more than 25 percent of above value. (d): Carbon equivalent, CE, shall be calculated using the following formula: 0.30 0.060 0.11 0.02 0.005 0.005 0.010 0.06 0.30 0.045 0.035 1.50 0.50 0.55

0.33 0.053 0.043 1.56 0.55 -

0.2-0.29 0.05 0.045 1.2-1.6 0.6-0.9 0.3 0.3 0.3

0.22 0.05 0.05 0.012 0.5 (e)

Phosphorus 0.060

contents is in general higher in IS 1786 than those in ASTM A615M and 706M, Russian and European specifications. This also increases the risk of higher brittleness of Indian rebars. IS 1786 and ASTM A615/A615M do not put limitation on the carbon equivalent, while ASTM A706/A706M and European code specify such limitation. However, IS 1786 specifies limits on variation over specified maximum limits of carbon, sulphur and phosphorus. It also limits the quantity of micro alloying elements. The mechanical properties of rebars, whose minimum values are generally given in most of the specifications, are yield strength (0.2 percent proof stress in case of CTD bars), ultimate strength (or maximum tensile strength) and elongation as parameters for characterisation. Following observations could be made from the comparative study. • Ratio of ultimate strength (tensile strength) to yield strength decreases with increase in yield strength in IS 1786. Similar observation is made from the specifications of other countries. • Differences between the specified values of minimum tensile strength and minimum yield strength of IS 1786 are lower than those of ASTM, AS/NZS, GOST and STOACHEM for corresponding grades of rebar. • ASTM A706/A706M and AS/NZS 4671 specifies both minimum and maximum yield strengths.


CE = %C +

% M n %C u % N i %C r % M o %V + + + − − 6 40 20 10 50 10

(e): Carbon equivalent, Ceq, shall be calculated using the following formula:

C eq = C +

Mn Cr + M o + V N i + Cu + + 6 5 15

requisite quality of steel depending on their usage, especially for small users.

• Specified value of minimum elongation generally decreases with the increase of steel grade.

Rebars falling under groups 1 and 4, Table 3, are no longer • Minimum elongations specified for Fe 415, Fe 500, Fe used in India now, while those under groups-2 and 3 are 550 grade rebars in IS 1786, Grade 420 rebars in ASTM predominantly used. Findings of comparative study of these A706/A706M; and Grade 500E and 430 in AS/NZS groups, 2 and 3, are discussed in the present paper. Comparison of chemical Table 5: Mechanical properties of group-2 rebar (grade: 415 to 430) composition and mechanical properties IS 1786 ASTM Australian / Russian European specified in IS 1786, ASTM A615/ Attributes 615M 706M New Zealand A615M, ASTM A706/A706M, Russian Tensile (a) 10 percent more 620 550 Ratio of ultimate 585 Ratio of ultimate and European standards of these two strength than the actual tensile strength to tensile strength to yield yield stress but not yield strength should strength should be ≥ groups are given in Tables 4 to 7. The less than 485 MPa be ≥ 1.15 and ≤ 1.50 1.15 and ≤ 1.35 comparison of chemical composition indicates that limits on the carbon Yield 415 420 420 ≥ 410 395 450 content is in general lower in Russian Strength, and European specifications in minmum comparison to IS 1786, though the limit Yield Strength, 540 ≤ 520 specified in ASTM A706M is similar to maximum that of IS 1786. Allowing high carbon Elongation 14.5 For bar # 10 9 14 ≥ 10 14 7.5 content implies Indian rebars have the For bar # 13, 16 9 14 For bar # 19 9 14 risk of possessing lesser ductility in For bar # 22, 25 8 12 comparison to that of other countries. For bar # 29, 32, 36 7 12 For bar # 43, 57 7 10 Limits on the sulphur and phosphorus

January 2004 * The Indian Concrete Journal


Table 6: Chemical composition of group-3 rebar (grade: 500 to 520) Item IS 1786(a,b) 0.30 0.055 0.055 0.105 ASTM 615(c) 0.06 Russian 0.22 0.05 0.05 European 0.22 0.05 0.05 0.012 0.50 (d)

Carbon Sulphur Phosphorus Sulphur and Phosphorus Manganese Silicon Nitrogen Carbon equivalent Cequiv Nickel Copper Chromium

1.6 0.9 0.012 0.50 -

Notes: (a):For guaranteed weldability, the percentage of carbon shall be restricted to 0.25 percent maximum. (b):Addition of micro alloying elements is not mandatory for any of the above grades. When strengthening elements like Nb (Niobium), V (Vanadium), B (Boron) and Ti (Titanium) are used individually or in combination, the total contents shall not exceed 0.30 percent; in such case manufacturer shall supply the purchaser or his authorized representative a certificate stating that the total contents of strengthening elements in the steel do not exceed the specified limit. (c): (i) An analysis of each heat of steel shall be made by the manufacturer from test samples taken preferably during the pouring of the heats. The percentage of carbon, manganese, phosphorus, and sulphur shall be determined. The phosphorus content thus determined shall not exceed 0.06 percent. (ii) An analysis may be made by the purchaser from finished bars. The phosphorus content thus determined shall not exceed by more than 25 percent of above value. (d):Carbon equivalen, Ceq, shall be calculated using the following formula:

requirements of minimum elongation and ultimate and yield strengths specified in GOST, STOACHEM and European standards also ensure inelastic deformability of the structural members.
22 As per ACI 318 , rebar complying with ASTM A706/ A706M is to be used in earthquake-resistant design of concrete structures. In Australia and New Zealand, rebars of grade 500E and 430 of AS/NZS 4761 are used for earthquakeresistant design. In earthquake-resistant design where ductile behaviour of structure is required (for example, design against the earthquake forces), it is undesirable to have actual yield strength much higher than its minimum specified value that is considered in design. This is because higher the actual yield strength of rebars, higher would be the ultimate moment capacity of a RC section. Again, increase in flexural strength of a member will enhance the shear demand on the member under seismic loads. Fig 9 shows the increase in shear demand with the increase in yield strength for the RC beam section of Fig 7. This scenarios could lead to higher risk of brittle shear failure of the member rather than a ductile flexure failure, which is against the spirit of safe aseismic design criteria of RC section. From this consideration, specification of both minimum and maximum yield strengths in ASTM A706/ A706M and AS/NZS 4671 (for rebars to be used in seismic

C eq = C +

Mn Cr + M o + V N i + Cu + + 6 5 15

4671 are higher than those specified for corresponding rebars in ASTM A615/A615M; and Grade 500L and 500N of AS/NZS 4671. Requirements of minimum elongation and that of tensile strength or ultimate strength shall not be less than 1.25 times the actual yield strength in case of ASTM A706/A706M ensure adequate inelastic deformability of the reinforcement, which then translates into inelastic deformability of structural members. The tensile strength of grades 500E and 430 rebars by AS/NZS 4671 is specified to fall within 1.15 to 1.4 (for 500E grade) or 1.5 (for 430 grade) times the characteristics yield strength, which is used in design. Minimum elongation is required to be more than or equal to 10 percent to ensure inelastic deformability of the structural members. The
Table 7: Mechanical properties of group-3 rebar (Grade: 500 to 520) Attributes IS 1786 ASTM 615 M 500L Tensile 8 percent more than strength the actual yield stress but not less than 545 MPa Yield strength, minimum Yield strength, maximum Elongation 500 690 Ratio of ultimate tensile strength to yield strength should be ≥ 1.03 ≥ 500

Australian/ New Zealand 500N Ratio of ultimate tensile strength to yield strength should be ≥ 1.08 ≥ 500

Russian 500E B500A

European B500B

Ratio of ultimate 600 tensile strength to yield strength should be ≥ 1.15 but ≤ 1.40 ≥ 500 500

Ratio of ultimate Ratio of ultimate tensile strength to tensile strength to yield strength yield strength should be ≥ 1.05 should be ≥ 1.08 500 500




≤ 750

≤ 650

≤ 600





For bar # 10 For bar # 13, 16 For bar # 19 For bar # 22, 25 For bar # 29, 32, 36 For bar # 43, 57

7 7 6 6

≥ 1.5

≥ 5.0

≥ 10.0





The Indian Concrete Journal * January 2004

design) is effective. This important aspect is missing in IS 1786. It is not possible for direct comparison on elongation as different countries have different specifications for testing elongation. However, the requirements of elongation specified in IS 1786 is in line with other international specifications for Fe 415 and Fe 500 grades from ductility consideration. Fe 550 grade steel falls short of it. IS 1786 does not guarantee the requirement of minimum ratio of tensile strength to minimum yield strength for inelastic deformability as are the cases of ASTM A706/A706M. Moreover, IS1786 does not specify both the minimum and maximum yield strengths for safeguarding against brittle shear failure. Specification of IS 1786 seems to be somewhat conservative as far as design for ductility of rebars is required. Specifications of Fe 415 grade may guarantee the attributes of ductility. But, this cannot be stated for other grades, particularly for Fe 550. Detailed study is required for using this grade of rebars in the design requiring ductility. Cautious approach may be solicited before using Fe 550 grade steel in the design of earthquake-resistant design following stipulations of IS189319. No codes specifies any limitation on the statistical parameters of the reinforcement properties such as yield strength. It was seen in the discussion of preceding section that coefficient of variation of yield strength could increase due to variability in the production process. The safety in design is adversely affected with the increase in coefficient of variation of yield strength. This calls for a need in specifying coefficient of variation on the yield strength of rebars, at least, for projects of higher importance.

identify whether the rebar is manufactured from new steel or scrap is needed. This will help the small users, as a mean of preliminary quality control. A maximum limit for yield strength is desirable to be specified in standards used for earthquake-resistant design. The absence of such a maximum limit may lead to brittle failure (shear) of the structure. Requirements specified in IS 1786 for Fe 415 grade rebars are in line with the requirements of other countries for ductile design. However, this does not hold good for rebars of grade Fe 550 as per IS 1786. Cautious approach should be adopted in using rebar grades higher than Fe 415, especially Fe 550 grade, where ductility of rebars is necessary for inelastic deformation of structural members as demanded by design philosophies. Such design cases are earthquake-resistant design, design for impact load, design of slabs/beams, with adjustment of support moments/load, against gravity load, etc. TMT bars are used presently in India for construction of concrete structure. Neither IS 456 nor SP 16 provides design stress strain curve of TMT rebar. Use of the design curve of CTD bar is not correct. BIS should come out with design stress-strain curve and design value of the yield strength of TMT bars. A limitation on coefficient of variation on yield strength of rebars is desirable for the project of higher importance.

Authors thankfully acknowledge the help and cooperation rendered by Dr C. S. Viswanatha of Torsteel Research Foundation, Bangalore in preparation of the paper. References
1. ______Indian standard specification for high strength deformed steel bars and wires for concrete reinforcement (Third Revision), IS 1786 : 1985, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi 2. PARK, R. and PAULAY, T. Reinforced Concrete Structures, John Willey & Sons, 1975, New York. 3. PURUSHOTHAMAN, P. Reinforced Concrete Structural Elements — Behaviour, Analysis and Design, Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Ltd, 1984, New Delhi. 4. ______Design aids for reinforced concrete to IS 456 : 1978, SP 16, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi. 5. ______Plain and reinforced concrete – Code of practice, IS 456, Fourth revision, September 2000, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi. 6. BASU, PRABIR C. Seismic upgradation of buildings: An overview, The Indian Concrete Journal, Mumbai, August 2002, Vol 76, No 8, pp. 461-475. 7. ______Criteria for earthquake resistant design of structures, Part 1 General provisions and Buildings, IS 1893, 2002, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi 8. GRAVINA, R.J. and WARNER, R.F. Moment re-distribution in indeterminate RC beams and slabs constructed with 500 MPa Grade, Class L and Class N reinforcing steels, Proceedings of the Concrete Institute of Australia conference, 2001. 9. GILBERT, R.I. The impact of 500 MPa reinforcement on the ductility of concrete structures – Revision of AS 3600, Proceedings of the Concrete Institute of Australia Conference, 2001. 10. BISHNOI, L. R. and BASU, PRABIR C., Methodology for rehabilitation of aged nuclear safety related concrete structures, Proceedings of first national

Concluding remarks
Characterisation of steel reinforcement is as important as that of concrete ingredients for engineering sound and durable concrete structures. Manufacturing process, design requirements and construction method have significant impact on characterisation of rebars. Chemical composition and mechanical properties like yield strength, ultimate strength and elongation are generally considered for characterisation of rebars. The ribs on the surface of the deformed bars also need to be characterised. Strength, ductility and corrosion resistant properties of rebars are important from design considerations. From construction point of view, bendability and weldability of rebar are two important characteristics. The required ductility of rebars could be guaranteed against all type of loadings, that is, monotonic, repetitive and reversed loading by elongation. It is inevitable to re-roll rebars from metal scraps both from the sustainability and economic angles. A degree of control on scrap metal is necessary to manufacture requisite quality of rebars. Well-defined systems exist in the USA and Europe for this purpose but, not in India. Similar system is necessary to implement requisite control, especially in the present free market regime. In addition, branding system to

January 2004 * The Indian Concrete Journal


symposium on ageing management of nuclear facilities (AMNF-94), January 1315, 1994, BARC, Mumbai. 11. KAUSHIK, S.K. and SINGH, B. Influence of steel-making processes on the quality of reinforcement, The Indian Concrete Journal, July 2002, Vol. 76, No 7, pp. 407-412. 12. ______Ductile detailing of reinforced concrete structures subjected to seismic forces - Code of practice, IS 13920 : 1993, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi. 13. ______European standard on steel for the reinforcement of concrete- weldable reinforcing steel, prEN 10080-1, 1999, European Committee for Standardization, Brussels. 14. __________ Indian standard specification steel for general structural purposes (Fourth Revision), IS 2026: 1985, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi. 15. ______Indian standard for mild steel and medium tensile steel bars and harddrawn steel wire for concrete reinforcement (Third Revision), IS 432 (part 1): 1982, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi 16. ______USSR standard of hot rolled steel for reinforcement of ferro concrete structure, GOST 5781-83, 1983, Moscow, Russian Federation. 17. ______Standard specification for deformed and plain billet-steel bars for concrete reinforcement, ASTM A 615/A 615M, American Society of Testing Materials, USA. 18. ______Standard specification for low-alloy steel deformed and plain bars for concrete reinforcement, ASTM A 706/A 706M-01, American Society of Testing Materials, USA. 19. ______Rolled material of periodic profile of reinforcement steel, STOACHEM 793, 1993, Moscow, Russian Federation, USA. 20. ______Steel reinforcing materials, AS/NZS 4671: 2001, Standards Association of New Zealand. 21. ______Building code requirements for reinforced concrete, ACI-318, 1999, American Concrete Institute, USA. 22. KATO. B, AKIYAMA, H. and YAMANOUCHI, Y. Predictable properties of material under incremental cyclic loading, Sympoisum on resistance and ultimate deformability of structures acted on by well-defined repeated loads, Reports of working commissions, Vol 13, International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering, Lisbon, 1973, pp 119-124.

Dr Prabir C. Basu is presently the director, civil and structural engineering division of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Mumbai. He graduated from the Bengal Engineering College, Shibpore, Howrah and obtained his M-Tech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He was awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship for research at Liverpool University, UK which led him to his PhD degree. Before joining AERB, Dr Basu worked with Development Consultants Ltd and M.N. Dastur and Company, Calcutta where he had commendable achievements to his credit in design and project engineering of high-tech projects in the strategic sectors. Dr Basu has made significant contribution in the development of high performance concrete (HPC) and preparation of specifications for the construction of the primary containment dome of the Nuclear Power Plant at Kaiga using HPC. His work in the development and preparation of codes and guides of nuclear power plant structures is outstanding. A fellow of Institution of Engineers (India), Dr Basu has authored about 50 technical papers. His current interest in research is in the field of HPC and earthquake engineering. He was awarded the ICI-Fosroc award for Outstanding Concrete Technologist, 2003. Ms Shylamoni P. is presently working as scientific officer (D) in civil & structural engineering division of AERB, Mumbai. She obtained her B.Tech from T.K.M. College of Engineering, Kollam, Kerala. She worked with Uhde India Ltd and Bhagwati Designs Pvt Ltd, Mumbai where she was associated with analysis and design of multi stored industrial structures. Her areas of interest include analysis and design of steel structures. Mr Roshan A. D. is presently working as scientific officer (D) in civil & structural engineering division of AERB, Mumbai. He obtained his B.Tech from Regional Engineering College, Calicut and M.Tech in structural engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has also completed a oneyear orientation course in nuclear science and engineering conducted by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. His areas of interest include seismic analysis, design and non linear finite element analysis of concrete structures.

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