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The 6th ASME-JSME Thermal Engineering Joint Conference

March 16-20, 2003

TED-AJ03-560

THERMAL ENGINEERING FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF


LARGE CONCRETE ARCH DAMS
Randy J. James
ANATECH Corp.
5435 Oberlin Dr., San Diego, CA 92121 USA
E-mail: randy@anatech.com

David A. Dollar
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
400 West Bay Street, Jacksonville FL 32232 USA
E-mail: David.A.Dollar@saj02.usace.army.mil
Keywords: Heat of Hydration, Cooling Coils, Concrete Aging and Creep, Thermal Induced Cracking
ABSTRACT
Concrete arch dams are typically constructed from
individual cantilever blocks, as illustrated in Fig. 1, using
approximately 10 thick mass concrete placements or lifts
to build up each block. During placement and the initial
curing of a lift, water is circulated through embedded
pipes, as illustrated in Fig. 2, to control the peak
temperatures and thermal gradients. Once the individual
blocks are completed to the crest height, water is again
circulated to contract the blocks and open the contraction
joints between the blocks. The open joints are then
pressure grouted to form a monolithic arch dam. This
type of mass concrete construction has two opposing
design considerations for the thermal behavior due to the
heat of hydration. During the placement of the lifts,
excessive temperatures and thermal gradients must be
controlled to prevent thermal induced cracking.
However, during the final cooling period, an adequate
drop in the mean concrete temperature must be available to
allow the contraction joints to open sufficiently for

grouting. This paper discusses the methodology and


computer simulations currently used to evaluate the
potential for cracking and the performance of the joints
during the final cooling period for grouting. In particular,
several important modeling features needed to simulate
this type of construction are described and highlighted. A
coupled thermal stress analysis is conducted to simulate
the incremental construction process using nonlinear
concrete material behavior for creep and aging. A
cooling coil model is used to simulate the active removal
of heat through the embedded cooling coils. A method
for addressing the construction process of placing lifts in
the low blocks against the previously placed high blocks
and the effect of the associated compressive load across
the contraction joints for very young concrete is discussed.
To illustrate this methodology for the thermal engineering
of large concrete structures, the results of a study for the
Portugues Arch Dam, which is to be constructed near
Ponce, Puerto Rico, is presented.

Figure 1. Example of Arch Dam Construction Showing High


and Low Blocks and Shear Keys at Contraction Joints

Figure 2. Illustration of Cooling Coil Pipes Installed Prior to


Placement of Next Lift

Copyright 2003 JSME

BACKGROUND
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is designing a
new concrete arch dam for construction on the Portugues
River near Ponce in southern Puerto Rico. The dam is
initially intended for flood control with the possibility of a
height extension to be constructed later for additional
water supply storage. At the maximum section of the
dam, the initial construction will be 220 feet high, 40 feet
thick at the base, and 23 feet thick at the crest. The length
of the arch at the crest is approximately 1300 feet. The
dam will be constructed with individual, cantilever blocks
in 70-foot lengths as measured along the axis of the dam.
Each block is free standing, and abuts its neighbors at a
contraction joint, which has cast-in vertical shear keys in
the plane of the contraction joints to resist movement in
the upstream-downstream direction. Each block is
constructed with a series of 7 to 10 feet thick concrete
placements or lifts with alternating high and low blocks
along the arch. The high blocks precede the low blocks in
height by at least 2 lifts (14 to 20 feet) for the formwork
requirements, and the low blocks are placed against the
sides of the high blocks with forms only on the upstream
and downstream faces. An example of this type of
construction is shown in Fig 1, which illustrates the
alternating high and low blocks, the formwork, and the
shear key at the contraction joints. After constructing
each block to the crest height, the blocks will be cooled
using embedded cooling pipes to open the contraction
joints. The open joints are then pressure grouted to form
a composite structure. The embedded cooling coils will
also be used to limit internal temperatures due to the heat
generation by the concrete hardening process during the
placement of each lift. Figure 2 illustrates cooling coils
that have been installed prior to placing the next lift.
For this type of construction, there are two opposing
design considerations for thermal requirements. The
potential for thermal induced cracking will be greatest
when the peak temperatures due to the heat of hydration
are the highest relative to the seasonal low temperatures.
However, the ability to open the contraction joints
sufficiently for grouting will most likely be compromised
when the peak temperatures are minimized. This is
because the mean temperature of the concrete at the time
of grouting is a fixed design parameter, which is based on
sensitivity studies for design basis loads during the design
of the dam. These issues were first formally addressed
during the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s
[1]. General procedures for evaluating the potential for
thermal induced cracking in massive concrete structures
are identified in the Corps of Engineers Engineering
Technical Letter for Nonlinear, Incremental Structural
Analysis (NISA) [2]. This paper summarizes and
identifies recent advances in the computer modeling used
for analytical investigations in the thermal engineering of
large concrete structures.
The objectives of the
analytical studies are to evaluate the potential for cracking
in a typical cantilever block and to assess the contraction
joint opening behavior during final cooling for grouting.
This study is intended to verify the design parameters for

block sizes, lift heights, placement temperatures, and


cooling requirements.
MODELING METHODOLOGY
The analysis procedure is intended to simulate the
sequential placement of the concrete and the subsequent
interaction between the heat of hydration, the ambient
conditions, the increasing strength and stiffness as the
concrete cures, and the restraints imposed by the
foundation and contraction joints. The simulation is
accomplished through a coupled thermal-stress analysis
with a changing mesh that activates elements for new lifts
of concrete as the analysis proceeds.
Boundary
conditions for heat convection and pressure loads must
also be activated and deactivated as the construction
process develops. Since the thermal solution does not
depend on the stress response, the thermal analysis is
conducted first for the entire construction sequence. The
stress analysis then proceeds using the temperature
histories computed from the thermal solution. The
concrete is initially placed at a specified placing
temperature, but the reference stress-free temperature
occurs when the concrete hardens during the initial set
time. Thus, the cured concrete will have a spatial
variation of stress-free temperature dependent upon the
temperature distribution that occurs during the initial set
time. The analysis uses the ABAQUS [3] finite element
program coupled with the ANACAP-U [4] concrete
material model, which characterizes the nonlinear and
time dependent properties of creep, aging, shrinkage, and
cracking for the concrete performance. The concrete
material model has an integrated formulation for the
effects of temperature, shrinkage, aging, and creep,
including the time of loading, for interaction with
cracking and is verified with test data. The age
dependent cracking criteria is based on a combined
relation of stress and strain, which can be associated with
fracture energy. Cracks can form in 3 orthogonal
directions at each material point. When a crack initiates,
the stress across the crack reduces to zero, and the shear
modulus reduces as a function of crack opening size for
shear transfer associated with aggregate interlock. Once
a crack forms, it can never heal, but cracks can close to
carry compressive loads as necessary.
Material Properties and Ambient Conditions
The specific material properties are derived from
material characterization tests conducted on test samples
of representative concrete mix designs. The thermal
material properties for specific heat and conductivity for
the concrete and rock foundation are based on test data
and are considered constant in the analysis. Figure 3
illustrates the time dependent characterizations for
material properties and ambient conditions used in the
analysis. The time dependent heat of hydration for the
mass concrete is characterized through adiabatic
temperature rise tests, which is modeled through a user
subroutine for the volumetric heat generation rate
accounting for the time of placement of each concrete
element. Heat convection across a free surface to an

Copyright 2003 JSME

ambient environment is modeled with a film coefficient


that relates the heat flux across the surface to the change
in temperature between the surface and the ambient
environment. The film coefficient is related empirically
to the wind speed at the site. Both the ambient
temperature and film coefficient are modeled as sinusoidal
functions based on peak seasonal temperatures and wind
speeds. The film coefficient is also adjusted for the
insulating effects of the wood forms until the forms are
removed starting on the 4th day after placement of each lift.
The time dependence of aging, creep, and shrinkage for
the mass concrete is also modeled based on test data.
Creep tests for constant load at 1, 3, 7, and 28 days are
used to characterize the creep behavior in the model.
Slow load beam rupture test data is used to benchmark the
time dependent fracture criteria in the concrete model.
The rock foundation is considered to behave linearly in
these calculations.
Cooling Coils
Cooling coils are embedded in each block during
construction by laying a continuous run of 1 diameter
thin wall metal tubing, which loops back and forth at a
specified spacing, on the top of each lift before the
placement of the next lift. A cooling coil is also placed
on top of the foundation before placing the first lift of
each block. Water can then be circulated through the
embedded pipes to cool the mass concrete, both for
reducing the peak temperatures during the placements and
initial curing and during the final cooling period to open
the contraction joints for grouting after the blocks are
completed. The primary controls for the amount of heat
removed are the spacing between the coil loops, the
temperature of the inlet water, the flow velocity, and the
length of time that the coils are active with circulating
water. A cooling coil model is used to simulate the effect
of this active heat removal in these analyses. This
cooling coil model uses a user subroutine to set nodal
point temperatures based on an energy balance for the
ability of the cooling water to gain heat with the available
heat flux in the concrete. For each time increment in the
analysis, a new outlet water temperature is calculated by
the model based on an average concrete temperature some
distance away from the cooling coil as a function of the
cooling coil parameters, such as the total length and flow
velocity, and the thermal properties of the concrete and
water. The concrete temperature for all nodes along the
cooling coil is then reset to the average of the new outlet
water temperature and the inlet water temperature. The
average cooling coil temperature along the length is used
since the direction of water flow is typically reversed
daily in the field with the intent to keep relatively uniform
temperatures throughout the length of the cooling coil. A
set of nodal points that represent the location of each of
the cooling coils are grouped together for applying this
user boundary condition.
Contraction Joints
A very important modeling aspect for these analyses is

the development of a method for insuring that the low


blocks are placed against the high blocks. When new
lifts are added in the procedure, the new elements are
initialized to be strain free and assume the current position
of the nodes. The nodes of the future lifts that are to be
placed in contact with the surface of a previous lift across
a contraction joint should be constrained to the
corresponding nodes of the previous lift until the elements
of the new lift are added to the model. This will account
for the movement of the surface of the previous lift and
insure that the new lift is placed against the previous lift.
If these pairs of nodes are uncoupled, the nodes for the
new lift will have the original, un-deformed coordinates.
If the previous surface has moved away from the nominal
position, a gap will exist, and the compressive load from
expansion of the new lift due to the heat of hydration may
not develop correctly in the model. If the previous lift
surface has moved into the space of the new lift when the
new lift is placed, then the gap elements at the surface will
immediately try to correct the mismatch, and excessive
compressive load may develop in the new lift. Thus, a
method was developed to link the (future) nodes of the
low blocks along the contraction joint to the nodes of the
high blocks, so that when the low block elements are
placed, the current coordinate of the low block matches
that of the deformed high block. This is done through a
user subroutine to constrain the displacements normal to
the joint of the corresponding nodes together until the gap
elements are added.
Note that the horizontal
displacements parallel to the plane are always constrained
because of the shear key modeling at the contraction joint.
The vertical displacements for the corresponding nodes
across the contraction joint are un-coupled.
This
modeling eliminates the initial compressive stress and the
associated compressive creep strain due to any overlap,
and allows the compressive stress to build as the low
block tries to expand from the heat of hydration.
A related observation is the effect of compressive load
for very young concrete on cracking performance. In
general, compressive load will prevent cracking since
cracks will not form in the direction of compressive stress
(with the crack surface in a plane perpendicular to the
direction of load). However, compressive load for young
concrete will generate compressive creep strain. Since
creep has visco-elastic properties in concrete, this
compressive creep strain dissipates slowly as the
compressive load is removed, and residual compressive
creep strain can remain when the compressive stress is
removed. Compressive creep strain acts similar to
shrinkage and thermal strain during cooling, if the
deformation is restricted, then this strain will contribute to
the strain that causes cracking. The mechanical or
cracking strain is the total strain minus the thermal,
shrinkage, and creep strain. Excessive compressive
creep strain that develops early in life can contribute to
cracking later in life. Thus, the creep modeling for very
young concrete, less than 1 day old, is very important for
the analysis of this type of construction.

Copyright 2003 JSME

ANALYSIS RESULTS
For computer resource considerations, the size of the
3-D model must be limited. Since the foundation
provides constraint to the dam, which affects both the
cracking potential and joint opening performance, the
bottom portion of the dam and a portion of the foundation
are modeled.
To include the interaction of the
contraction joints, the full length of a cantilever block
with half of the adjacent blocks on either side is used.
The adjacent blocks are included to provide the
constraints and associated contraction joint interaction
with the center block. Section cuts are taken near the
centerlines of the adjacent block and symmetric boundary
conditions are applied to these cuts to limit the extent of
the 3-D model. Prior to the 3-D analyses to evaluate the
potential for cracking and the performance of the
contraction joints, a series of 2-dimensional analyses were
performed.
Preliminary Analyses
The purpose of these studies is to evaluate the cooling
coil performance under different combinations of
parameters within the design envelope to finalize the
cooling coil parameters for use in the 3-D models. Since
the schedule and budget limits the number of 3-D analyses
that can be conducted, the 2-D models are used to evaluate
the thermal behavior under various cooling coil design
combinations. Also, since the 3-D model only considers
the first 6 lifts of each block, the 2-D analysis is used as a
basis for the boundary conditions to be applied on the top
cut surface of the 3-D model. Figure 4 illustrates the 2-D
model and the results extracted for the boundary
conditions on the 3-D model.
In addition, the 2-D
modeling is used to determine the worst-case material
property variation combination for the 3-D verification
analyses in fulfillment of the intent of the NISA ETL.
Finally, 2-D analyses are used to assess the temperatures
that are likely to occur under nominal heat of hydration
and mean monthly temperature variations as best estimate
predictions. Since the study strives to look at worst-case
conditions, 15% variations in the measured heat of
hydration and extreme ambient temperature ranges are
considered in the 3-D analyses. The best-estimate 2-D
analyses are used to develop the more likely temperature
ranges as an aid for field decisions during the construction.
3-D Analyses
Figure 5 illustrates the 3-dimensional model, viewed
from downstream, that is used for the NISA study of the
Portugues Arch Dam. The bottom 6 lifts and a portion of
the foundation are modeled. The model includes the full
center block and half of the adjacent high blocks on either
side. Gap elements connect the corresponding nodes
across the contraction joints for the displacement normal
to the plane of the joint. Until the elements for the low
block are activated to simulate the placement of the lifts,
the normal displacement of the nodes of these future low
block elements are tied to the normal displacement of the

corresponding node of the high block. This modeling


accounts for the movement of the high blocks to insure
that the low block is placed against the surface of the high
block.
The horizontal displacements in the
upstream-downstream direction for the nodes across the
contraction joint are tied together to simulate the cast-in
shear key at the joint. Symmetry boundary conditions
are imposed on the vertical section cuts, both transversely
through the dam and foundation and along the upstream
and downstream faces of the foundation. This symmetry
condition restrains the displacements normal to the cut
and completely insulates the cut surface thermally. The
cut along the bottom of the foundation has roller supports
for the stress solution with the mean annual temperature
imposed on the nodes of the surface for the thermal
boundary condition. The horizontal cut across the dam at
the top of the model requires special attention to simulate
the effects of the subsequent lifts that are not modeled.
The weight of these phantom lifts is simulated by
incrementing a pressure load on the top surface as
additional lifts build up. The pressure distribution
changes in the upstream-downstream direction as
determined from the 2-D analysis to account for the shift
in the center of gravity due to the curvature of the arch
dam. A convection boundary condition is used to
simulate the conduction of heat across this boundary as
subsequent lifts are placed. The temperature history at
the center of the next lift for each block is extracted from
the 2-D analysis and used as the reference temperature for
the convection boundary condition. The film coefficient
is calculated to be equivalent to the rate of heat
conduction through 5 of concrete or of the next lift
thickness.
This convection boundary condition is
removed to provide insulation on the cut surface after the
heating from subsequent lifts has subsided and the cooling
coils on top of the cut are turned off. The final analysis
used 1-day placement increments between lifts in different
blocks and 7-day placements between lifts in each block
with an initial concrete placement temperature of 75 F.
Analyses for a summer and a winter construction start
are performed. The summer start uses a 15% increase in
the measured heat of hydration and includes initial
cooling for 21 days after placement of each lift with 8 coil
spacing and 70 F inlet cooling water. The winter start
uses a 15% decrease in the measured heat of hydration but
no initial cooling during placement of the lifts. These
analyses, based on 2-D thermal studies, are intended to
provide reasonable bounds for the respective conditions of
maximum temperatures that can lead to thermal induced
cracking and for minimum temperatures that restrict the
ability to open the contraction joints sufficiently for
grouting. Figure 6 illustrates the thermal response for the
two analyses.
The summer start shows peak
temperatures near 124 F in the middle of the lifts while
the winter start scenario shows peak temperatures of 112
F.
Without initial cooling, the summer peak
temperatures would reach 130 F. The winter peak
temperatures occur later in time, relative to the summer
analysis, as heat conduction develops for subsequent lifts.

Copyright 2003 JSME

The effects of the cooling coils on the temperature


distributions and thermal gradients are also illustrated in
the figure with the thermal contours plotted on day 36.
Figure 7 summarizes the results of the study with
cracking pattern plots and joint opening displacements for
the summer and winter construction start analyses. Some
cracking develops at the dam-foundation interface along
the downstream face and along the contraction joints.
This cracking develops after the initial cooling period as
the ambient temperatures cool and the residual heat is
dissipated through conduction. The resulting contraction
demands are resisted by the foundation. Because of the
higher temperatures in the summer start relative to the
winter ambient temperature, more cracking develops for
the summer start scenario. This cracking does not pose
any structural concerns and is considered conservative
since some relief to thermal demands will occur at the
bond interface and perhaps in the fissures at the top of the
foundation. These effects are not considered in the
modeling. Some vertical cracking is indicated in the
summer start analysis on the downstream face of the left
high block as viewed in Figure 5. This cracking is
discounted because of the imposed symmetry condition at
the cut surface, which causes a discontinuity in the model
geometry. The modeling of the low block, which does
not show any of this type of vertical cracking, is
considered more representative of the performance of a
cantilever block. The figure also shows representative
joint opening displacements as measured near the middle
of each lift. The effect of activating the cooling coils
during the final cooling period is evident. The ability to
open the joints for competent grouting is also found to be
satisfactory for the design and construction parameters.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
A coupled thermal stress analysis methodology using
incremental construction modeling with nonlinear
material behavior and moving boundary conditions is
presented for evaluating the thermal engineering
requirements of large concrete structures. Analytical
studies for a new concrete arch dam are presented. From
the results of the 3D analyses, it is concluded that the
parameters for the block construction for the dam are well

designed to balance between low cracking potential and


sufficient contraction joint opening during final cooling.
Based on the extreme ambient temperatures used, some
cracking is anticipated near the dam-foundation interface,
especially on the downstream side, due to thermal
gradients that develop during the cooler winter months
while the inner core is still at elevated temperatures.
However, this type of cracking does not pose any
structural or performance concerns. It is also anticipated
that some of this cracking will be relieved by
micro-cracking at the dam-foundation interface and in the
fissures of the rock foundation. The differences in the
summer and winter start analyses indicate that this
cracking can be further mitigated by reducing the peak
temperatures and the gradients near the foundation during
periods of extended cooler ambient temperatures. This
can be accomplished through lower placement
temperatures for the bottom few lifts or continuing the
initial cooling longer in time. However, the tradeoff in
increased construction cost may not warrant such action
given that the cracking does not have very severe
consequences. The performance of the design during the
final cooling period is also shown capable of providing
adequate joint openings for grouting, even for the extreme
conditions of the winter start analysis that minimize the
mean concrete temperatures.
REFERENCES
[1.] Cooling of Concrete Dams, Part VII Cement and
Concrete Investigations, Boulder Canyon Project
Final Reports, U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, Denver,
CO, 1949
[2.] Nonlinear Incremental Structural Analysis of
Massive Concrete Structures, Engineering
Technical Letter, ETL-1110-2-365, U. S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Washington D.C., August 1994.
[3.] ABAQUS/Standard, Version 5.8, User Manual,
Hibbitt, Karlsson, and Sorensen, Inc., Pawtucket,
Rhode Island, 1998.
[4.] ANACAP-U Version 2.5, Users Guide, ANATECH
Corp., San Diego, CA, 1998.

Copyright 2003 JSME

The 6th ASME-JSME Thermal Engineering Joint Conference


March 16-20, 2003

Figure 3. Modeling of Time Dependent Material Properties and Ambient Conditions

Copyright 2003 JSME

Figure 4. 2-D Analysis for Thermal Studies and to Define Boundary Conditions on 3-D Model

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Figure 5. 3-D Finite Element Model for Portugues Arch Dam

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Figure 6. Illustration of Thermal Response for Summer and Winter Construction Start Analyses

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Figure 7. Cracking Patterns and Joint Opening Displacements

Copyright 2003 JSME