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Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407

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Effective width of steel–concrete composite beam at ultimate strength state


Jian-Guo Nie a , Chun-Yu Tian a , C.S. Cai b,∗
a Department of Civil Engineering, Laboratory of Structural Engineering and Vibration of China Education Ministry, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China
b Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, United States

Received 24 September 2006; received in revised form 21 May 2007; accepted 30 July 2007
Available online 10 September 2007

Abstract

In a steel–concrete composite beam section, part of the concrete slab acts as the flange of the girder in resisting the longitudinal compression.
The well-known shear-lag effect causes a non-uniform stress distribution across the width of the slab and the concept of effective width is usually
introduced in the practical design to avoid a direct analytical evaluation of this phenomenon. In the existing studies most researchers have adopted
the same definition of effective width which might induce inaccurate bending resistance of composite beam to sagging moments. In this paper, a
new definition of effective width is presented for ultimate analysis of composite beam under sagging moments. Through an experimental study
and finite element modeling, the distribution of longitudinal strain and stress across the concrete slab are examined and are expressed with some
simplified formulae. Based on these simplified formulae and some assumptions commonly used, the effective width of the concrete slab and the
depth of the compressive stress block of composite beams with varying parameters under sagging moments are analytically derived at the ultimate
strength limit. It is found that the effective width at the ultimate strength is larger than that at the serviceability stage and simplified design formulae
are correspondingly suggested for the ultimate strength design.
c 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Steel–concrete; Composite; Effective width; Ultimate strength state; Experiment; Finite element analysis

1. Introduction effective width directly affects the computed moments, shears,


torque, and deflections for the composite section and also
A steel–concrete composite beam consists of a concrete slab affects the proportions of the steel section and the number of
attached to a steel girder by means of shear connectors. The shear connectors that are required.
shear connectors restrain the concrete slab immediately above Since the 1920s there have been many investigators
the girder so that there is a non-uniform longitudinal stress who studied the shear-lag effect in T-beam structures and
distribution across the transverse cross-section of the slab. Due steel–concrete composite structures based on continuum
to the shear strain in the plane of the slab, the longitudinal mechanics analysis, numerical method and experimental study
strain of the portion of the slab remote from the steel girder lags to develop realistic definitions of effective width. Adekola [1,
behind that of the portion near the girder. This so-called shear- 2] and Ansourian and Aust [3] studied the effective width
lag effect causes a non-uniform stress distribution across the of composite beams using isotropic plate governing equations
width of the slab. To avoid a direct analytical evaluation of this in an elastic stage by numerical methods. It was found
phenomenon, the concept of effective slab width (simply called that the effective width depends strongly on the slab panel
effective width hereafter) is usually introduced in practical proportions and loading types and can only be used for
design in order to utilize a line girder analysis and beam theory deflection and stress computations at serviceability level.
for the calculations of deflection, stress and moment resistance. Johnson [4] studied the effective width of continuous composite
In a line girder analysis, individual girders are analysed instead
floor system at a strength limit state. Heins and Fan [5],
of analysing the entire bridge deck. The determination of the
Elkelish and Robison [6], Amadio and Fragiacomo [7], Amadio
and Fedrigo [8] studied theoretically and experimentally the
∗ Corresponding author. effective width of composite beams in elastic and/or inelastic
E-mail address: cscai@lsu.edu (C.S. Cai). stages. Results of these studies show that the effective width

c 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


0141-0296/$ - see front matter
doi:10.1016/j.engstruct.2007.07.027
J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407 1397

that based on the actual stress distribution, especially in the


Notation strength limit state. As a result, an accurate value of resistance
to sagging moments of composite beam might not be obtained
As tension area of steel beam section;
by a simple plastic beam theory. Chiewanichakorn et al. [14]
A0s compression area of steel beam section;
recently proposed a different definition for the effective width
b width of concrete slab of composite beam;
considering the through-thickness variation of stress in the
be effective width of concrete slab of composite
concrete slab. However, their study focuses only on composite
beam;
beams in the elastic stage, i.e., serviceability limit state. Effect
Ec elastic modulus of concrete;
of shear lag at the strength limit state is different from that at
Es elastic modulus of steel;
serviceability level.
Et hardening modulus of steel;
In this paper, a new definition of effective width is presented
f design strength of steel;
for ultimate strength calculations of composite beams under
fc cylindrical compressive strength of concrete;
sagging moments using the commonly accepted rectangular-
f cu cubic compressive strength of concrete;
stress block assumption. This new definition ensures that the
ft tension strength of concrete;
bending capacity of the simplified composite beam (effective
fy yield strength of steel;
width plus block stress distribution) is the same as the
fu limit strength of steel; actual composite beam (actual slab width plus actual stress
hc height of concrete slab; distribution). Through an experimental study and finite element
hs height of steel beam section; analysis, the distribution of longitudinal strains and stresses
L span of composite beam; across the concrete slab are examined and expressed with some
Pu ultimate load of test simplified formulae. Based on the new definition and simplified
V shear force of the connectors between concrete formulae, the effective width of the concrete slab and the depth
and steel; of the compressive stress block of the composite beam with
Vu shear strength of shear studs; varying parameters under sagging moments are calculated.
zc depth between top surface of concrete and plastic
neutral axis; 2. New definition of effective width under sagging moment
z c0 depth between the plastic neutral axis and top
surface of concrete at y = 0 Now consider as shown in Fig. 1 a cross-section of
α parameter presenting the degree of shear-lag composite beams under a sagging moment with a steel section
effect; of Class 1 or 2 according to EC4 [10]. For composite beams
β ratio of effective width to real width; at the strength limit state, the resistance of section to sagging
εc compressive strain in concrete slab; moments, Mu , can be obtained by calculating the plastic
εct compressive strain on top surface of concrete moment and considering a few assumptions commonly used in
slab; the literature [15]:
ϕ curvature of concrete slab; (1) The tensile strength of concrete is neglected.
λ slip of the connectors between concrete and steel; (2) The concrete in compression resists a constant stress
ν Poisson’s ratio; of f c over a rectangular-stress block with a width of βb and
ξ height of rectangular-stress block to z c0 ratio; depth of ξ z c0 , where b is the physical width and be = βb is
σc stress in concrete slab; the effective width of the concrete slab; z c is the compressive
stress depth from the plastic neutral axis to the top surface
of the concrete slab in general and z c0 = z c (y = 0) is the
at the strength limit state is greater than that in the elastic z c value along the vertical y-axis particularly, as shown in
stage and can essentially be taken as the real slab width. Based Fig. 1(b). Therefore, ξ z c0 represents an equivalent depth of the
on the research results of these investigations, design codes compressive stress block.
have adopted, in general, simplified formulae or tables for (3) The effective area of the structural steel member is
the effective width evaluation in order to facilitate the design stressed to its design strength f in tension or compression as
process [9,10]. These design codes use the same effective width shown in Fig. 1(b).
for both serviceability and strength limit states, thereby usually The width and depth of the stress block are the key factors
underestimate the effective width at the strength limit state and affecting the value of Mu . In the traditional design method it
are too conservative for moment resistance computations. is generally assumed that z c is constant across the width of the
Most previous studies have adopted the same definition of concrete slab; i.e., ξ is 1. The effective width be is traditionally
effective width where the longitudinal stress is considered to obtained as
be constant over the effective width and the total longitudinal R h c R b/2
force within the effective width is equal to the total force of the 0 −b/2 σc dydz
actual stress distribution [11–13]. However, when the effective be = R h . (1)
0 σc | y=0 dz
c
width from this traditional definition is used for the analysis of
composite beam sections with a simple beam theory, the total Application of be from Eq. (1) will lead to a stress block
bending moment in the concrete slab is usually different from that has a total force equivalent to that based on the actual
1398 J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407

Fig. 1. Assumption for ultimate strength analysis.

Fig. 2. Sketch of specimen and test set-up (units = mm).

stress distribution in the concrete slab, but there is no guarantee where As and A0s is tension and compression area of steel
that the resultant forces will be located at the same location. section, respectively.
Due to the shear-lag phenomenon the longitudinal stress in the In order to predict the actual strain and stress distributions
concrete slab decreases from y = 0 to y = b/2 and the depth across the section, finite element method was used to analyse
z c varies across the width of the concrete slab as shown in the composite beams with varying parameters under sagging
Fig. 1(a). Therefore, the stress block with a width of be from moments. The three variables β, ξ and z c0 were then solved
Eq. (1) may not have a total bending moment equivalent to that from Eqs. (2)–(4) after the distribution of σc in the concrete slab
based on the actual stress distribution in the concrete slab, i.e., was obtained and the bending resistance to sagging moment
the accurate value of Mu may not be obtained by the traditional of composite beams can then be obtained by a traditional
method when using the definition of effective width in Eq. (1). plastic beam approach. To confirm the numerical results, an
In order to ensure that the stress distribution in the concrete experimental study was also conducted and is described next.
slab as shown in Fig. 1(a) and (b) is equivalent to ultimate
strength analysis in terms of both axial force and moment, we 3. Experimental study
will have to derive the effective width and the depth of the stress
block by both force and moment equivalencies as: A steel–concrete composite floor model as shown in Fig. 2
Z h c Z b/2 was tested to investigate the shear-lag phenomenon in the
βbξ z c0 f c = σc (y, z)dydz (2) concrete slab of the composite beam in both elastic and inelastic
0 −b/2 stages and the experimental results were used to verify the
R h c R b/2
accuracy of the finite element model described in next section.
ξ z c0 0 −b/2 (h c − z)σc (y, z)dydz
= R h c R b/2 . (3) The model consists of three identical longitudinal girders and
−b/2 σc (y, z)dydz
2
0 two transverse girders at the ends of the longitudinal girders.
Considering the force equilibrium in the entire beam section A cast-in-place concrete slab with a height of 60 mm was
we have connected to the girders by head studs. The experimental model
Z h c Z b/2 with three girders represents more closely the real composite
structures and can give more realistic results than traditional
As f − A0s f = σc (y, z)dydz, (4)
0 −b/2 single-beam specimens.
J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407 1399

Fig. 5. Test model and loading frame.

Fig. 3. Experimental stress–strain curve for steel materials. jacks in series with an increment of 2 kN. During the test both
global and local quantities, such as displacements, strains of
the concrete slab and steel beams, and slip at the concrete-steel
interface were monitored. Since the test specimen is designed
as a full composite section and the slip mainly affects the
serviceability behavior of beams and its effect on ultimate
strength is insignificant [16], no detailed slip information is
presented here for the sake of brevity. The mid-span vertical
displacement reached up to 160 mm at the ultimate load Pu =
256 kN, when the collapse happened due to the crushing
on the top surface of the concrete slab. Fig. 5 shows the
deformed shape of the specimen and loading frame used for
the experiment.
Fig. 6 displays the strain distribution along half of the slab
width (with the origin at the center of the deck as shown in
Fig. 2) on the top and bottom surfaces of the concrete slab.
Such curves are displayed under different loading levels for
Fig. 4. Stress–strain curve for steel materials used in FEM.
the mid-span section of the specimen where Pu is the ultimate
load from tests. In general, the compressive strain on the top
Table 1 surface of the portion of the slab remote from the steel beam
Results of compression tests on concrete
lags behind that of the portion near the beam (Fig. 6(a)), while
Cube no. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Average the tensile strain on the bottom surface of the portion of the
f cu (MPa) 34.9 34.7 44.0 41.9 34.7 37.2 37.9 slab remote from the steel beam are greater than that of the
portion near the beam (Fig. 6(b)). This high tensile strain shown
in the figure indicates cracking of concrete as observed in the
Coupons of steel beams and concrete blocks were tested in experiments. For the convenience of comparison, results from
order to determine the stress–strain curve, Young’s modulus, the finite element method discussed in the next section are
and compressive and tensile strength. For the reinforcement, also plotted in the figure. Reasonable agreements between the
three 6-mm-diameter bars were subjected to tensile tests and the experimental and FEM results are clearly observed in the figure.
results were averaged and plotted in Fig. 3 as the stress–strain The load vs. mid-span vertical displacement curve of
curve. For the steel beams, the tensile tests were performed the center longitudinal girder is plotted in Fig. 7. The
on six specimens and the averaged stress–strain curve is also load–displacement relationship is nearly linear up to the load of
displayed in Fig. 3. According to the experimental results a 100 kN, beyond which a sudden reduction of stiffness occurred
simplified stress–strain curve shown in Fig. 4 for steel beams due to the yielding of the steel beam. At the collapse load of
and rebars is used in the finite element analyses. For the 256 kN, the steel beam section at the mid-span yielded and
concrete materials, the cubic compressive strength f cu was significantly plasticized.
determined through six 15×15×15 cm3 cubes which were cast
and tested at the same time as the deck. The measured concrete 4. Finite element analysis
strength was shown in Table 1. The cylindrical compressive
strength f c was evaluated assuming f c = 0.8 f cu . In order to predict the distributions of the longitudinal
Each of the three longitudinal girders was subjected to strains and stresses in the concrete slab of composite beams
sagging moments through four-point loads (P/4 at each point) at the ultimate strength state, a finite element analysis
as shown in Fig. 2. The load was applied by three hydraulic through ANSYS R
(2000) was carried out considering material
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(a) Compressive strain on top surface of concrete slab. (b) Tensile strain on bottom surface of concrete slab.

Fig. 6. Strain distribution along slab width (b = 1200 mm, y = 0–1800 mm).

Fig. 7. Load vs. mid-span vertical displacement curve.

nonlinearity as shown in Fig. 8. The results from this model


were confirmed by a comparison with the experimental results.

4.1. Finite element model Fig. 8. Finite element model.

The tested specimen in Fig. 2 was analysed by finite element In the ANSYS concrete model, a crack is a mechanism that
method. 4-node shell elements were used to mesh the steel transforms the behavior from isotropic to orthotropic, where
girders and 2-node link elements were used to mesh steel bars. the material stiffness normal to the crack surface becomes zero
The kinematic hardening rule including Bauschinger effect and while the full stiffness parallel to the crack is maintained. In this
von Mises yield criteria were used for the materials of steel bars smeared crack model, a smooth crack could close and all the
and beams. Multilinear stress–strain relationship of steel bars material stiffness in the direction normal to the crack may be
and beams obtained from tests as shown in Fig. 4 were adopted recovered. The uniaxial compressive stress–strain relationship
in the analysis. For all steel materials: Young’s modulus E s = of concrete used in the analysis is:
206,000 MPa, E t = 2000 Mpa, and Poisson ratio ν = 0.3;  2
 ε ε

Steel beams: f y = 295 MPa, and f u = 448 MPa; Steel bars: σ 2 − , ε ≤ ε0
 ε0 ε0
= (5)
f y = 380 MPa, and f u = 478 MPa. σ0
1, ε0 < ε ≤ εcu ,
The 8-node cubic (brick) elements for concrete material
available in ANSYS R
were used for the concrete slab. The where σ0 = f c , and ε0 = 0.002.
failure surface is the modified William–Warnke criterion as The shear studs were modeled by nonlinear spring elements
shown in Fig. 9 in the biaxial principal stress space and (shown as Combin Element in Fig. 8). Typically, the actual
the crushing and cracking of concrete are considered in this load–slip curve of stud connectors was obtained by a push-out
element [17]. The material properties of the concrete slab used test. Previous studies have shown that the curve is generally
in the analysis are: f c = 30.3 MPa, tension strength f t = nonlinear even for low stress levels. It is thus reasonable to use
3.03 MPa, elastic modulus E c = 30,000 MPa, and Poisson’s a nonlinear spring in modeling the mechanical behavior of the
ratio ν = 0.17. connectors. The constitutive relationship of the spring is given
J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407 1401

Fig. 9. Failure surface of concrete material in biaxial principal stress space.

by Aribert [18]:

V = Vu (1 − e−C1 λ )C2 , (6)


where V and λ are the shear force and the shear slip of the Fig. 10. Model for parametric analysis.
connector, respectively; Vu is the shear strength of the shear In all situations the compressive strains decrease from y = 0
studs obtained by push-out tests. The parameters C1 and C2 to y = b/2 due to the shear-lag effect. The ratios b/L and
define the shape of the curve, and the values used in this study loading types have significant influence on the degree of shear
are C1 = 0.7 mm−1 , and C2 = 0.56 [18]. lag while other parameter, such as beam size and material
As discussed earlier, Fig. 6 displays the strain distribution strength have less influence on the shear-lag effect. The shear-
across half of the slab width on the top and the bottom lag degree increases with the increase in b/L. The shear-lag
surfaces of the mid-span section of the concrete slab. Fig. 7 effect is more obvious under one-point load than the other
shows the load vs. mid-span vertical displacement curve of the two loading types. The curved shape of the compressive strain
center longitudinal girder. The comparison of experimental and distribution is assumed to be parabolic and is described with a
numerical results confirmed the accuracy of the finite element quadratic equation as shown in the next section.
model. The longitudinal strain distributions across the thickness of
4.2. Parametric analysis the concrete slab at the mid-span section when f y = 235 MPa,
L = 6 m, b/L = 0.3 and h c = 90 mm, under three
In order to acquire the actual longitudinal strain and stress loading types, are shown in Fig. 12(a)–(c) from which it can
distributions in the concrete slab at the ultimate strength state be concluded that the longitudinal strain remains linear along
for different parameters such as loading cases, beam size, the z-axis at the ultimate strength state. The curvature ϕ(y) and
and material strength, a nonlinear finite element model was the depth z c (y) between the top surface and the neutral axis of
developed and analysed. This model consists of three identical the concrete slab, as shown in Fig. 13, can be obtained from
longitudinal girders, two transverse girders at the ends of the the strain results in Fig. 12(a)–(c). While Fig. 12(a) and (c)
longitudinal girders, and a concrete slab attached to the steel show that ϕ(y) remains almost constant and z c (y) decreases
girders by shear connectors as shown in Fig. 10, subjected to from y = 0 to y = b/2 along y-axis under uniform load and
a single-point load P1 at the mid-span, a two-point load P2 two-point loads, Fig. 12(b) shows that ϕ(y) decreases and z c (y)
applied at the 1/3rd points of the beam span, and a uniform almost remains constant from y = 0 to y = b/2 along y-axis
load q over the whole span length of the steel girders. For under the one-point load.
materials, the stress–strain relationship in Fig. 4 is adopted with
5. Analytical strain distribution across concrete slab at
various steel yield strength f y . Concrete compression strength
ultimate strength state
f c = 24 MPa, tension strength f t = 2.4 MPa, elastic modulus
E c = 30,000 MPa, and Poisson’s ratio ν = 0.17. The degree of Numerical results discussed earlier have verified the
shear connection is 1, i.e., full composite action is considered. assumption that the longitudinal strain distribution remains
The following three series of models have been analysed: linear along the z-axis at the ultimate strength state. As it is
(1) Yield strength of steel beams f y = 235 MPa, L = 6 m, demonstrated below, if the compressive strain εct (y) on the
b/L = 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, or 0.5, and h c = 90 mm; top surface and the depth z c (y) between the top surface and
(2) Yield strength of steel beams f y = 235 MPa, L = 6 m, the neutral axis of the concrete slab can be expressed using
b/L = 0.3, and h c = 60, 75, 90, 105, or 120 mm; simplified formulae, the compressive strain distribution in the
(3) L = 6 m, b = 1800 mm, h c = 90 mm, and yield strength concrete slab can be obtained analytically, which will facilitate
of steel beams f y = 235, 300, 350, or 400 MPa. an analytical solution of the effective width.
The ultimate state strains of the mid-span section of the According to the FEM numerical results, εct (y) can be
center girder in the model were processed. Fig. 11(a)–(d) show expressed as
the distributions of the compressive strains εct (y) on the top
y2
 
surface of the concrete slab under different loading types, b/L y
ratios, height of concrete slab, and yield strength of steel beams. εct (y) = εct (0) 1 − α + α 2 , (7)
b b
1402 J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407

(a) f y = 235 MPa, b/L = 0.3, h c = 90 mm, under different loading (b) f y = 235 MPa, b/L = 0.1–0.5, h c = 90 mm, under loading q.
types.

(c) f y = 235 MPa, b/L = 0.3, h c = 60–120 mm, under loading q. (d) f y = 235–400 MPa, b/L = 0.3, h c = 90 mm, under loading q.

Fig. 11. Strain distributions on top surface of concrete across slab width (y-axis) for different parameters.

where α is a parameter representing the degree of shear-lag with the finite element results under different loading types and
effect. b/L ratios, for the case of f y = 300 MPa and h c = 90 mm.
From Eq. (7) it is derived that εct (b/2) = εct (0)(1 − The accuracy of the simplified formulae is confirmed by this
0.25α); therefore α = 4(1 − εct (b/2)/εct (0)). When the strain comparison.
distribution is uniform across the slab width, then α = 0. Based As discussed earlier, the curvature φ(y) of the concrete slab
on the FEM results of εct (0) and εct (b/2), the values of α under remains constant from y = 0 to y = b/2 under uniform load
different parameters were obtained. According to the numerical and two-point load. By using equation φ(y) = εct (y)/z c (y)
results discussed earlier, the parameters h c and f y have a small (as shown in Fig. 13) and Eq. (7), z c (y) is derived as shown in
influence on α. For example, when b/L = 0.3, the value of α Eq. (9a) below. Meanwhile, since z c (y) remains constant from
increases by about 2% when h c increases from 60 to 120 mm, y = 0 to y = b/2 under one-point load, Eq. (9b) is adopted for
and α increases by about 4% when f y increases from 235 to this case as
400 MPa. Therefore, the influence of f y and h c on α can be
y2
 
ignored. The values of α under different loading types and b/L y
z c (y) = z c0 1 − α + α 2
ratios, when f y = 300 MPa and h c = 90 mm, were calculated b b
and plotted in Fig. 14. By curve fitting the numerical results of (for uniform load and two-point load) (9a)
α with b/L as the sole parameter, the α’s were derived below z c (y) = z c0 (for one-point load). (9b)
and are also plotted in Fig. 14 as
From Eqs. (7)–(9) and the assumption that the longitudinal
α = 2b/L − 0.075 strain at the mid-span of the concrete slab remains co-linear
(for uniform load and two-point load) (8a) along the z-axis, the strain at the mid-span of concrete slab
α = 7.5b/L − 0.5 (for one-point load). (8b) εc (y, z) as a function of y and z can be expressed as:

By using Eqs. (7) and (8) we can analytically obtain the z − h c + z c (y)
εc (y, z) = εct (y). (10)
values of εct (y) that are plotted in Fig. 15(a)–(c) to compare z c (y)
J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407 1403

(a) Longitudinal strain along z-axis under load q. Fig. 14. Values of α under different loading types and b/L ratios.

6. Analytical effective width and depth of rectangular-


stress block

According to the uniaxial compressive stress–strain relation-


ship of concrete as shown in Eq. (5), the analytical stress dis-
tribution in the concrete slab at the mid-span of the composite
beam can be expressed as:
 ε (y, z)  εc (y, z)

c
 fc 2− ,
ε0 ε0



σc (y, z) = 0 > εc (y, z) > −ε0 (11)
f , −ε > ε (y, z) > −ε

 c 0 c cu


0, εc (y, z) > 0,
(b) Longitudinal strain along z-axis under load P1 .
where ε0 = 0.002, εcu = 0.0033, and the tensile strength of
concrete is ignored.
At the ultimate strength state, the maximum strain at the top
surface of the concrete εct (0) = εcu . By substituting Eq. (10)
and εct (0) = εcu into Eq. (11) we can obtain an equation where
σc (y, z) is expressed as a function of the section dimensions,
material strength, and z c0 . Substituting Eq. (11) into Eq. (2)
into (4) leads to three simultaneous equations from which the
three unknowns z c0 , β and ξ can be analytically solved and thus
the analytical solution of the effective width can be derived.
A series of composite beams with L = 6 m, ratios b/L =
0.1–0.5, h c = 90 mm, h c / h s = 0.1–0.4, concrete class C30,
and yield strength of steel f y = 235 MPa, subjected to a single-
(c) Longitudinal strain along z-axis under load P2 . point load, a two-point load and a uniform load were analysed
by using the developed analytical approach. The steel beam
Fig. 12. Strain distributions along slab depth (z-axis) for different loadings. section with a variable height h s , 200 × 12 mm for top and
bottom flanges, and 276×8 mm for web are used in all analyses.
The values of z c0 , β and ξ are solved from Eqs. (2)–(4) and the
results are listed in Tables 2 and 3.
As shown in Tables 2 and 3, the effective width factor β is
greater than 0.99 under various beam sizes and loading types
when b/L ≤ 0.5. In general the effective width be increases
with the increase in the actual (physical) width b. Therefore,
the be when b/L > 0.5 should be larger than the corresponding
be when b/L = 0.5. It is suggested that the be in the case of
b/L > 0.5 (this situation does not happen often) be chosen
the same value as the be in the case of b/L = 0.5, which is
on the safe side for the ultimate strength analysis. Based on
these arguments, the effective width be for the ultimate strength
Fig. 13. εct (y), ϕ(y) and z c (y) in concrete slab. design of composite beams may be obtained as
1404 J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407

Table 2
Results of z c0 , β and ξ with various b/L and h c / h s (under uniform load and two-point loads)

hc / hs β ξ
b/L b/L
0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
0.1 1.000 1.000 0.999 0.996 0.993 0.285 0.886 0.910 0.882 0.852
0.2 1.000 1.000 0.998 0.996 0.993 0.886 0.942 0.914 0.883 0.852
0.3 1.000 0.999 0.998 0.996 0.993 0.913 0.946 0.914 0.883 0.852
0.4 1.000 0.999 0.998 0.996 0.993 0.927 0.946 0.914 0.883 0.852

hc / hs z c0 βbh f c /As f
b/L b/L
0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5

0.1 315.53 101.57 93.97 84.15 69.97 0.304 0.608 0.913 1.217 1.521
0.2 101.54 93.04 75.13 58.48 48.64 0.438 0.875 1.313 1.750 2.188
0.3 98.54 90.46 64.14 49.93 41.53 0.513 1.025 1.538 2.050 2.563
0.4 97.04 84.90 58.66 45.66 37.97 0.560 1.121 1.681 2.242 2.802

Table 3
Results of z c0 , β and ξ with various b/L and h c / h s (under one-point load)

hc / hs β ξ
b/L b/L
0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
0.1 1.000 1.000 0.998 0.999 1.000 0.285 0.883 0.954 0.994 1.000
0.2 1.000 0.999 1.000 1.000 1.000 0.886 0.966 1.000 1.000 1.000
0.3 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 0.913 0.995 1.000 1.000 1.000
0.4 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 0.927 0.998 1.000 1.000 1.000

hc / hs z c0 βbh f c /As f
b/L b/L
0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5

0.1 315.53 101.63 93.01 74.44 59.17 0.304 0.608 0.913 1.217 1.521
0.2 101.54 92.67 68.59 51.41 41.13 0.438 0.875 1.313 1.750 2.188
0.3 98.55 88.31 58.54 43.90 35.12 0.513 1.025 1.538 2.050 2.563
0.4 97.05 80.43 53.53 40.14 32.12 0.560 1.121 1.681 2.242 2.802


b, b/L ≤ 0.5 axis, the results in Tables 2 and 3 can be distinguished into two
be = (12)
L/2, b/L > 0.5, situations, namely (a) and (b) as follows:
(a) When βbh c f c > As f (refer to the cases of normal fonts
where L is the span length for simply supported beam and the in Tables 2 and 3), then z c0 < h c ; at this situation the neutral
distance between the points of zero bending moments under axis lies in the concrete slab as shown in Fig. 16(a). We then
dead load for continuous beams. have force equilibrium as
For the ultimate strength analysis AISC [9] and AASHTO
codes [19,20] adopt the same effective width as that used for βbξ z c0 f c = As f. (14)
elastic analysis shown in Eq. (13) below, which is based on the (b) When βbh c f c ≤ As f (refer to the cases of bold fonts in
traditional definition of effective width shown in Eq. (1). Take Tables 2 and 3) or βbh c f c ≈ As f (the italic font in Tables 2 and
an interior girder for example, the effective width is 3, if any), then z c0 > h c ; in this situation the neutral axis lies
be = min {b, L/4, 12ts } , (13) below the concrete slab as shown in Fig. 16(b). We then have

where ts is the thickness of slab. ξ z c0 ≈ h c . (15)


In contrast, Eq. (12) is based on the new definition of After obtaining the value of β (=be /b) from Eq. (12), ξ z c0
effective width shown in Eqs. (2)–(4) and the real distribution can then be obtained with either Eq. (14) or Eq. (15). Once
of strain and stress at the ultimate state. Eq. (12) is more both the width and depth of the stress block are known, the
reasonable for ultimate moment resistance calculation using moment resistance of composite beam sections at the ultimate
rectangular-stress block assumption. strength state can thus be obtained by the traditional plastic
As shown in Tables 2 and 3, the plastic neutral axis shifts section method specified in any design codes.
upward (with smaller z c0 values) when the ratios b/L and Chen et al. [21] have just published their findings from their
h c / h s increase. According to the position of the plastic neutral comprehensive study on effective width based on their NCHRP
J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407 1405

(a) f y = 300 MPa, h c = 90 mm, under loading q. (b) f y = 300 MPa, h c = 90 mm, under loading P1 .

(c) f y = 300 MPa, h c = 90 mm, under loading P2 .

Fig. 15. Comparison between εct (y) values from finite element method (FEM) and simplified formulae (SF).

Table 4
Comparison of effective width at the ultimate strength state

Cases Proposed be Proposed be in Ref. [21] AISC (AASHTO) be Comments


b/L ≤ 1/4 b b Min(b, 12ts ) Majority cases
1/4 < b/L < 1/2 b b Min(L/4, 12ts ) Some cases
b/L > 1/2 L/2 b Min(L/4, 12ts ) Very rare cases

supported project [22]. The comparison between the proposed However, the proposed formula is still more conservative than
effective width in Eq. (12), that from [21], and that specified that of Chen et al. [21] whose proposed be is b for all girders.
in the US codes (AISC and AASHTO) in Eq. (3) is listed Again, the AISC (AASHTO) is based on elastic analysis, while
in Table 4. The majority (perhaps 99%) practical structures the present study is based on the ultimate analysis that is
fall into the case of b/L ≤ 1/2. In this range the proposed supposed to be more accurate and less conservative. Due to the
effective width be in the present study is exactly the same rareness of the practical cases in the range of b/L > 1/2, there
as that of Chen et al. [21], though a different approach was is no available experimental data to directly verify the proposed
used in the two studies. By using their effective width and that formula in the range of b/L > 1/2.
specified in AASHTO code [20], Chen et al. [21] have shown
7. Discussion of the effective width
that the difference is less than 4% in terms of ultimate capacity.
Therefore, the proposed effective width and that of the AISC A few special notes are of worth and are mentioned below:
(AASHTO) are indirectly shown to be basically the same for (1) Theoretically, the obtained formulae for the effective
the case of b/L ≤ 1/2. For b/L > 1/2, while the proposed width and depth are only valid for the evaluation of ultimate
effective width could be twice that of the AISC (AASHTO), the strength. However, the effective width is also traditionally used
practical structures rarely fall into this category (perhaps <1%). for stress and deflection calculation.
1406 J.-G. Nie et al. / Engineering Structures 30 (2008) 1396–1407

Fig. 16. Situations (a) and (b) for ultimate strength analysis (dashed rectangular means stress block).

(2) In the present study only simply supported decks 2. Through an experimental study and finite element analysis
are studied, and other end boundary conditions have not the distributions of longitudinal strain and stress across the
been considered. However, engineers are more concerned concrete slab at ultimate strength state are examined and
about the mid-span section that is less affected by the expressed by simplified formulae, which makes it possible to
continuity/boundary conditions. Traditionally, for simplicity, analytically derive the effective width.
engineers only distinguish between positive and negative 3. For composite beams at the ultimate strength state with
moment sections without considering the changes of effective various loading types, β, z c0 and ξ are solved from a set of
width along the span and without considering many other simultaneous equations based on the new definition of effective
factors that may affect the effective width to different extents. width and simplified formulae of stress distributions across the
(3) The effective width depends on the level of stress and concrete slab.
type of loading at the section. Therefore, a more general case 4. The effective width for the ultimate strength state is found
of stress resultants, i.e. a case of simultaneous application to be nearly the same as the physical width for the cases
of bending and axial forces, should be analysed. However, examined in the present study and a simplified effective width
considering the axial force will make the problem much more be for composite beam sections subjected to sagging moment
complicated since axial forces are variable. If axial force is an is thus proposed. Simplified formulae for calculating the depth
important component of the section forces, then we suggest of the rectangular-stress block ξ z c0 are also presented for the
using 3D finite element analysis directly. ultimate strength design of composite beams. Once both the
(4) Theoretically, effective width varies along the span width and depth of the stress block are known, the moment
length of the composite deck. Thus, the computation of resistance of composite beam sections at the ultimate strength
deflections in simply supported decks or of stress resultants state can thus be obtained by the traditional plastic section
in continuous beams can be a rather complex task due method specified in any design codes.
to the longitudinal variation of the cross-section properties.
Using a variable effective width along the span length is too Acknowledgments
troublesome and is not practical for routine application.
(5) The proposed effective width is based on limited The first two authors gratefully acknowledge the financial
finite element and experimental studies. A more meaningful support provided by the National Natural Science Foundation
verification would be a comprehensive one that should include of China (# 50438020) and the third author appreciates
many cases considering different parameters such as arbitrary the financial support from the Louisiana State University
loading, which is out of the scope of the present study and for international travel and collaboration. The authors also
perhaps should be pursued in a separate study. appreciate the constructive comments from the reviewers.
8. Conclusions
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