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Prestressed Concrete

Developments in Japan
Ben C. Gerwick, Jr.
Professor of Civil Engineering
University of California, Berkeley

D uring September 1978, I had the storage tanks, noise barriers, piles,
opportunity to visit Japan and to segmental construction, earthquake en-
observe at close range recent Japanese gineering, sea structures and other ap-
developments in prestressed concrete. plications.
reviewed on-going research and de- As others have previously reported, I,
velopment, inspected several outstand- too, am impressed by the emphasis
ing projects and had the opportunity to within the construction industry on new
meet with many knowledgeable technology. Research is quickly trans-
Japanese engineers, educators and FIP formed into field application through the
officials. process of negotiated contracts and
The overall impression I got was that government support. There appears to
prestressed concrete technology in be extremely close cooperation between
Japan is already at a very high level government, industry, and the univer-
(and still advancing) and that the mater- sities, although some educators feel that
ial is being used innovatively in many di- too much research is being channelled
verse types of applications. Indeed, to industry, thereby reducing the amount
there is much we can learn from the allotted to the universities.
Japanese with regard to many aspects All major contractors conduct inten-
of prestressed concrete. sive research and development pro-
Summarized below are my impres- grams. When R & D has reached a suf-
sions of Japanese developments in pre- ficient level of development, it is applied
stressed and precast concrete especially on small and moderate sized projects in
as applied to high strength concrete, order to evaluate construction tech-
highway and railroad bridges, rail ties, niques and performance.
tunnel liners, airport pavements, One good example of this is the de-
hollow-core slabs, unbonded tendons, velopment and application of high

strength concrete [80 to 100 MPa bar steels of 1300 MPa (190 ksi) yield
(11,600 to 14,500 psi) l using various strength.
admixtures and curing methods. A Using this technique the longitudinal
promising new admixture has been prestress must be properly proportioned.
found which develops such high A precompressive stress in the concrete
strengths at a very early age, using only (after losses) of 20 MPa (2900 psi) is
atmospheric steam curing in a normal used.
manner. To provide compressive ductil- Another interesting example is a main
ity, spiral confinement is applied at a rel- line railway bridge of moderate span [80
atively close spacing, using high yield m (260 ft) l which has been selected for
strength steel, up to and including the field application tests. This bridge, now
use of unstressed cold-bent prestressing 70 percent complete, uses a Warren

Fig. 1. Layout of tendons and mild reinforcing steel prior to concreting prestressed
airport pavement (designed for DC-8).

PCI JOURNAL/November-December 1978 67

Fig. 2. Completed prestressed concrete airport pavement (designed for DC-8).

Fig. 3. Prestressed concrete truss railway bridge. Note that the design strength of
the elements is about 12,000 psi (83 MPa). Segments are match-cast in plant using
a new admixture (Sigma 1000) and low pressure steam curing. They are joined by
post-tensioning. [Iwahana Bridge (first PC truss bridge in Japan)].


Erection sequence
0 ' 1. Set lower chords and lower panel points
with resin joints. First tensioning.
2. Set floor beams and place concrete at
joints. Second tensioning at lower chords.
3. Set floor slabs and place concrete at

4. Assemble temporary diagonals in a

triangle and transport by mobile gantry.
Set upper panel points and smear binding
agent at each joint. Apply tension to diag-
5. Set upper lateral struts on the erection jig
and place concrete at joints. Set upper
8 chords and place concrete at joints.
Fig. 4. Prestressed concrete truss railway bridge. The design strength of elements
is about 12,000 psi (83 MPa). Segments are match-cast in plant using new admix-
ture (Sigma 1000) and low pressure steam curing. They are joined by post-
tensioning. Shown below is an elevation and plan of the bridge.

Fig. 5. Reception at Tokyo University after lecture. [FIP Vice President (Japan) Dr.
Inomata is in background to right. )

truss, built of match-cast precast seg- Precast concrete tunnel liners are now
ments, post-tensioned through the joints. standard for all tunnels, including those
Prestressed concrete is being used bored through water-bearing sediments.
increasingly for both highway and rail- Sealing strips are embodied in the con-
way bridges, spurred on by the signifi- tact edges and actually "knit" under
cant reduction in noise level in adjoining pressure from adjoining liner segments.
urban areas and by the reduced elastic Prestressed concrete railway slabs
deformations as compared with steel. are now being used on some of the
Precast concrete noise barriers are newer high speed rail lines. These are
being installed on most bridges. installed on top of a cast-in-place con-

Fig. 6. Ohnaruto Bridge, whose piers are now nearing completion will span a
treacherous strait with swirling tidal rips and whirlpools. This structure is one of
many long-span bridges that will form part of the Honshu-Shikoku Crossing.

PCI JOURNAL/November-December 1978 71

Fig. 7 (top and bottom). Precast tunnel liners are extensively used in Japanese
tunnelling, even in water-bearing sands and silts under Tokyo harbor. Note the
plastic (gum) water seal that knits with its neighbor when pressure is applied. This
is a major field for accurate precasters producing close-tolerance high strength
concrete components.

crete pavement, and held to correct Precast concrete breakwater armor

grade and alignment by grouting. Al- units of many different designs are being
though more expensive in first cost than extensively employed in both small and
the conventional prestressed concrete large harbor construction projects. Some
railway sleepers, they are expected to of these are conventional breakwaters,
significantly reduce track maintenance others are semi-porous. The largest har-
cost. bor project is at Tomokomai, in Hok-

Fig. 8. Enroute to Tomokomai East Harbor where several hundred thousand precast
concrete armor units such as tetrapods will form one of the largest deep water
breakwaters in the world.

kaido, where 2300-ton precast concrete sign is underway in Japan for the appli-
caissons are used as the structural core cation of prestressed concrete in several
of the breakwater. important sea applications:
While in Japan, I received informal re- Two large oil storage facilities on
ports on the performance of different Kyushu are being placed underwater to
types of buildings during the 1978 Sen- minimize their environmental impact and
dai earthquake, northeast of Tokyo. Ap- to provide greater security. One such
parently, many reinforced concrete project will store 40,000,000 barrels of
buildings suffered severe damage due to crude oil in seven large prestressed
poor concreting practices (segregation concrete tanks, either bottom-founded,
and honeycombing due to poor pumping or permanently-moored underwater so
practices) and also due to their reso- as to be decoupled from possible earth-
nance after cracking with a high-energy quake shocks. Double-hull construction
portion of the earthquake spectrum. will provide added protection, since the
Some steel buildings were also severely outer compartment will be filled with salt
damaged due to buckling of diagonal water ballast.
bracing. Several companies are developing
Reportedly, no prestressed concrete designs for floating plants for LNG
buildings were damaged during the liquefaction, storage, and regassi-
earthquake. This may have been partly fication, using prestressed concrete be-
due to the care exercised in their design cause of its favorable and safe perfor-
and construction. Complete reports on mance under extreme cold. Research is
the performance of structures during the being intensively carried out on the criti-
Sendai earthquake are expected to be cal aspects of this application.
released in the near future. Comprehensive feasibility studies
Active planning and preliminary de- are underway for two offshore floating

PCI JOURNAL/November-December 1978 73

typhoon and the treatment of the articu-
lated joints between pontoons.
Prestressing techniques are being
used to join the large precast sunken
tunnel segments used in constructing
the Tokyo Harbor railway tunnel. These
joints are specially designed to accom-
modate substantial articulation during a
major earthquake, while still remaining
For the underbase grouting of this and
an adjoining highway tunnel, mortar is
Fig. 9. (top and bottom). Prestressea injected through inlet pipes in the floor of
hollow-core slabs (Dynaspan and the tunnel, on a 5 x 10 m (approx. 16 to
Spancrete) are manufactured to ex- 32 ft) grid. This enables the work to be
tremely tight tolerances, edge perfec- carried out from inside the tunnel.
tion, and blemish-free surface. These Unbonded tendons are being exten-
slabs are used for walls in multistory sively used in bridges, harbor structures,
buildings, and are often coated with a buildings and other structures. The use
translucent vinyl, which requires perfect of the greased-and-plastic encased ten-
surface and joints. don is being encouraged as a solution
to earlier difficulties experienced in ob-
taining complete grouting. Similarly,
ground anchors of moderate and large
capacity are being manufactured with
plastic encasements through the un-
bonded area.
Tests are being conducted on early
unbonded tendons which used bitumas-
tic coating. These involve sheet piles,
after 17 years' service, and railway
sleepers (ties) after 20 years of use. In
both cases, results to-date appear ex-
Extensive fire tests are being carried
out in Dr. Ban's General Building Re-
search Laboratory near Osaka, with col-
umns and wall panels being tested in the
vertical attitude, while subjected to de-
sign vertical loads.
airports. One project is of moderate size In his structural laboratory, vertically-
while the other is a large job and in- oriented cylindrical shells, similar to
tended for the new Osaka International those used in nuclear power plant con-
Airport. tainment structures and in some sea
Present plans call for the exterior of structures, were being tested under
the pontoons to be prestressed con- high-amplitude, low-cycle shear. The
crete, with the stiffeners and internal crack pattern at ultimate appeared to be
members to be either steel or pre- independent of steel percentages, al-
stressed concrete. Engineering prob- though higher percentages and equal
lems yet to be resolved include the percentages (circumferentially and verti-
mooring of such a structure during a cally) did reduce the crack width. Ulti-

Fig. 10. Prestressed hollow-core piling, autoclaved to achieve 10,000-psi
(69 MPa) strength.

mate strength in shear was essentially Much of the work, under the direction of
determined by the yield of steel in both Dr. Akira Doi, is indeed impressive.
directions, even though the percentages Prestressed concrete piles are now
of steel in the two directions varied from being considered for more extensive use
unity to a ratio of2to1. in harbor structures. Up to now, such
At the research laboratories of Shinko use has been very limited due to un-
Wire Co. in Amagasaki, extensive re- familiarity with the durability and moment
search is underway in developing a resisting capabilities of this piling, but
more efficient prestressing steel and wider use is expected in the future, par-
new anchorage systems. tially as a result of technical data
For anchoring of stays of stayed girder supplied by FIP Member Groups (in-
bridges, they have tested the usual cluding the Prestressed Concrete Insti-
socket with steel balls and epoxy, but tute).
without the common buttonheads on the The most spectacular structures now
wires. Fatigue tests reported show full underway are those which will connect
performance, with all wire breakage out- the several main islands of Japan. The
side the socket. This system is now Honshu-Hokkaido Seikan tunnel, with its
being applied to a pedestrian bridge 23 km (141/2 miles) underwater section
under construction. (longest in the world), is now more than
Other tests relate to the study of 50 percent complete. Also, several of
stress relaxation under conditions which the Honshu-Shikoku bridges, whose
simulate the reduction in strain due to three routes will contain 25 major
creep and shrinkage. bridges, including the world's longest
The Shinko laboratories have recently suspension bridge [178 m span (5840
acquired very advanced equipment, in- ft) I are well along in construction.
cluding scanning electron microscopes. The Omishima steel tied arch bridge is

PCI JOURNAL/November-December 1978 75

Fig. 11 Another view of prestressed hollow-core piles, autoclaved to achieve
10,000-psi (69 MPa) strength.

now nearing completion. Its 300-m (980 stressed Concrete Engineering Associa-
ft) span is effectively shortened by pre- tion (Prof. Muguruma, Mr. Unagami, Dr.
stressed tie-back ground anchors tying Doi, Mr. Tanaka and others), many of
each end of the deck to the rock abut- whom are familiar to FIP and PCI
ments. The substructures of two other through participation in past FIP Con-
major bridges are also nearing comple- gresses and PCI Conventions.
tion. On one of these, the Ohnaruto I am grateful for the opportunity to visit
Bridge, the two major piers are carried Japan and review the country's de-
forward despite tidal currents up to 8 velopments in prestressed concrete and
knots, which produce a dangerous ocean engineering. The exchange of
whirlpool effect adjacent to one pier. information has been very worthwhile
Construction will soon start on the especially in advancing new technology
third route, which will be the major rail- and in promoting good international re-
highway link between Honshu and lations.
Shikoku. Its southern anchorage caisson The Japanese should justifiably feel
will contain 260,000 m 3 (340,000 cu yds) proud of their accomplishments in the
of underwater concrete. field of prestressed concrete. Indeed,
Although most of the bridges will be there is much we can learn from their
steel suspension bridges, prestressing experiences and achievements.
materials and techniques will be exten-
sively employed in various aspects of Acknowledgment
these giant projects.
The trip to Japan was made possible
through the assistance of the National Sci-
Concluding Remarks ence Foundation of the United States, under
administration of the American Society of
While I was in Japan, I met with FIP Civil Engineers. The opinions expressed in
Vice President (Japan) Dr. S. Inomata this article are mine and do not necessarily
and other members of the Japan Pre- reflect those of the above organizations.