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Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

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Compressive strength and stiffness of concrete-filled double-tube columns T

a,b b,⁎
Yongqian Zheng , Zhong Tao
Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology and Informatization in Civil Engineering, Fujian University of Technology, Fuzhou, Fujian Province 350118,
Centre for Infrastructure Engineering, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia


Keywords: Concrete-filled double-tube (CFDT) columns have the potential to be widely used in high-rise buildings due to
Concrete-filled double-tube columns their very high load-carrying capacity, excellent ductility and good fire resistance. This new type of composite
Stub columns construction has attracted increasing research attention in the last decade, but there is a need to develop
Finite element models practical design recommendations for this construction. This paper aims to study the ultimate strength, the
Compressive strength
ultimate strain corresponding to the ultimate strength (ductility), and the stiffness of CFDT stub columns under
Compressive stiffness
axial compression. An existing finite element model is directly used to study square CFDT stub columns and this
model is further modified to simulate circular CFDT stub columns under axial compression. Numerical data are
generated to cover a wide range of parameters for CFDT stub columns. Through regression analysis, simple
equations are proposed to calculate the ultimate strength, the compressive stiffness and the ultimate strain of
CFDT stub columns. These equations can assist engineers to conduct structural analysis and design of CFDT

1. Introduction guidelines. Roik and Bergmann [7] reported the earliest use of CFDT
columns in the extension of the city hall in Wuppertal, Germany. In this
Concrete-filled steel tubular (CFST) columns have been widely used project, a smaller circular tube (406.4 × 17.5 mm) was embedded into
in construction due to their great advantages resulting from the com- a larger circular tube (558 × 12.5 mm) to increase the load-carrying
posite action between the steel and concrete materials [1]. In the last capacity and fire resistance. Later on, triangular CFDT mega-columns
few decades, many different types of CFST columns have been devel- were used in the construction of the Commerzbank Tower (56 stories
oped by utilising new construction materials or changing the config- and 258.7 m in height, completed in 1997) in Frankfurt, Germany [8].
uration of conventional CFST columns, with an aim to improve the This building has been the tallest building in Germany since 1997.
structural performance or meet specific design requirements [2]. For Another application of CFDT columns in Germany was in the con-
example, concrete-filled double-tube (CFDT) columns shown in Fig. 1 struction of the Central Station in Berlin, where rectangular inner and
were developed to increase the strength, ductility and fire resistance of outer tubes were adopted [9]. More recently, the Guangzhou Fortune
composite columns [3,4]. Such CFDT construction consists of two Center (68 stories and 309 m in height, completed in 2015) in China
concentric steel tubes with the presence of concrete both inside and was constructed using four CFDT mega-columns in the corners [10].
outside of the inner tube. Thus, there is an inner CFST component, The mega-column had two square cells and a circular tube was em-
which is protected by the outer concrete. It is envisaged that the CFDT bedded in each cell to increase the load-carrying capacity and stiffness.
construction has very good fire resistance, making it very suitable to be In the last decade, extensive studies have been conducted on CFDT
used in high-rise buildings [5]. Meanwhile, its load-carrying capacity stub columns under axial compression [3,11–16], CFDT beams [17],
and stiffness can be significantly increased due to the presence of the slender CFDT columns under axial compression [5,15,18,19] and CFDT
inner tube. Thus, it is possible to greatly reduce the size of the columns. columns under combined compression and bending [20]. Meanwhile,
Furthermore, the CFDT construction also offers a much improved re- Qian et al. [6] experimentally studied the seismic behaviour of square
sistance to impact, blast and seismic loads compared to conventional CFDT columns. More recently, Romero et al. [4] and Espinos et al. [21]
CFST columns [6]. studied the fire resistance of circular CFDT columns. In general, these
Compared with conventional CFST columns, there are only a few studies confirmed that CFDT columns have excellent performance at
applications of CFDT columns in practice due to the lack of design both ambient and elevated temperatures.

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (Z. Tao).
Received 25 April 2018; Received in revised form 3 September 2018; Accepted 15 October 2018
0263-8231/ © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 1. Typical cross-sections of CFDT columns.

Since circular tubes generally provide better confinement to con- integration (S4R) were used to model the steel tubes. Sensitivity ana-
crete than non-circular tubes, previous studies have predominantly lysis indicates that tubes with excessively large thicknesses are more
adopted circular inner tubes, except that Xiong et al. [17] conducted suitable to be modelled with solid elements to improve the prediction
two bending tests on CFDT members with square inner tubes. In con- accuracy. This is consistent with the finding reported in [23]. There-
trast, both circular and square tubes have been used as outer tubes in fore, C3D8R elements were also used to model steel tubes with a dia-
previous studies, although circular outer tubes were mostly preferred meter-to-thickness (or width-to-thickness) ratio of 12 in the numerical
by researchers. This study will focus on CFDT stub columns with cir- analysis conducted in Section 3.
cular inner tubes only, but the outer tube of a CFDT column is either As suggested by Tao et al. [24], the strain-hardening effect was
circular (Fig. 1a) or square (Fig. 1b). It is believed that a square CFDT considered for a circular inner or outer steel tube by using the
column shown in Fig. 1b is easier to connect with beams. If the cross- stress–strain (σ − ε) model presented by Katwal et al. [26], whereas an
sectional areas are the same, the square column also has higher flexural elastic-perfectly plastic model was adopted for a square outer tube. It
stiffness than the circular CFDT counterpart shown in Fig. 1a [16]. should be noted that Katwal et al.’s model is an extension of the steel
Therefore, both types of columns have potential for structural appli- model presented in [27], where the upper limit of the yield stress (fy)
cations. has been increased from 800 to 960 MPa.
Despite extensive investigations on the behaviour of CFDT columns The concrete σ − ε model proposed by Tao et al. [24] has been
under various conditions, very limited studies have been conducted to successfully used by Pons et al. [5] and Wang et al. [16] to simulate
develop design guidelines for CFDT columns [15,22]. In particular, no CFDT columns. This model is also used in this study for both the inner
attention has been paid to the compressive stiffness and deformation core concrete and outer concrete ring. It should be noted that Tao
capacity of CFDT columns, which are important for structural analysis et al.’s concrete model was originally proposed for conventional CFST
and seismic design of high-rise buildings [23]. columns with normal- or high-strength concrete, where a confinement
Against the above research background, finite element (FE) analysis factor (ξ) should be defined. This factor affects the simulation of con-
will be conducted in this paper for circular and square CFDT stub col- crete confinement and the post-peak response of concrete [24]. Based
umns under axial compression. Using the FE modelling technique, nu- on the studies in [5,16], the confinement factor for the inner concrete
merical data will be generated to cover a wide range of parameters for (ξi) is calculated by Eq. (1), whereas the corresponding factor for the
CFDT stub columns. Through regression analysis, simple equations will outer concrete (ξo) is determined by Eq. (2).
be proposed to calculate the compressive strength and corresponding
fyi Asi fyi 2
strain, as well as the compressive stiffness of CFDT stub columns. = = ·
fci Aci fci Di 2ti (1)
2. Finite element (FE) modelling
fyo Aso fyo 2
= = · 1
2.1. Model description o
fco Ac,nominal fco Do 2to (2)

Based on the work conducted by Tao et al. [24] for conventional where fyi and fyo are the yield stresses of the inner and outer steel tubes,
CFST columns, Wang et al. [16] developed a FE model for square CFDT respectively; Asi and Aso are the cross-sectional areas of the inner and
stub columns with or without stiffeners using ABAQUS [25]. The FE outer steel tubes, respectively; fci and fco are the cylinder compressive
model presented in [16] is directly used in this paper to study square strengths of the inner and outer concrete, respectively; Aci is the cross-
CFDT stub columns shown in Fig. 1b. Meanwhile, Wang et al.’s FE sectional area of the inner core concrete; Ac,nominal is the void area in-
model [16] is further modified in this study to simulate circular CFDT side the outer steel tube; Di and ti are the diameter and thickness of the
stub columns shown in Fig. 1a. Unless otherwise specified, the length of inner circular steel tube, respectively; Do is the diameter of a circular
a stub column is determined to be three times the overall diameter or outer tube or the width of a square outer tube; and to is the thickness of
width (Do) of the cross-section in the simulation. Since details of the FE the outer steel tube.
modelling have been presented in [16,24], only a brief description of A surface-to-surface contact with friction was introduced to model
the FE model is given below. the interaction between different components, where the friction
Due to symmetry, only one-eighth of a CFDT stub column was coefficient between the steel and concrete was taken as 0.6 [24]. It is
modelled to improve the computational efficiency, as shown in Fig. 2. worth noting that a direct interaction will occur between the inner
Three-dimensional eight-node brick elements (C3D8R) were adopted to CFST and the outer concrete ring in a CFDT stub column after the de-
model the concrete, whereas four-node shell elements with reduced velopment of a large axial deformation [16]. This interaction will

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 2. Finite element models.

produce a lateral confinement stress (p) for the inner CFST, as shown in circular and square CFST stub columns, respectively. Wang et al. [28]
Fig. 3. The influence can be automatically taken into account in reported a relative reduction of 9.7% in peak strength when the ex-
ABAQUS and it was found that there is no need to modify the concrete ternal diameter increased from 153 to 469 mm for circular CFST col-
models to account for this [5,16]. umns with a steel ratio of 4.1% (Do/to ≈ 100). The relative reduction of
Symmetry boundary conditions are applied to each symmetric plane peak strength, however, increased to 22.2% when the cross-sectional
of a CFDT stub column, where no rotation about the in-plane axes of the dimension increased from 300 to 750 mm for square CFST columns
symmetric plane was allowed and neither was the translation normal to with a steel ratio of 8.5% (Do/to = 50). This is consistent with the
the symmetric plane. For the top end of the column, all degrees of research finding reported by Yamamoto et al. [30], who found that size
freedom were fixed except the axial displacement. An axial displace- effect in circular CFST columns was less obvious than that in square
ment was applied to the top end of the column to simulate the axial CFST columns. According to Caner and Bažant [31], the size effect in
compression. The FE simulation was implemented using the ABAQUS CFST columns could be reduced or even eliminated if sufficient con-
static general approach. finement is provided to suppress softening of concrete in compression.
It should be noted that size effect associated with the brittle strain- This explains the smaller size effect in circular CFST columns since a
softening damage of concrete under compression has not been con- circular steel tube is more effective in confining concrete than the
sidered in the present FE model. Wang et al. [28] and Wu et al. [29] square counterpart. Because of the use of dual tubes to confine con-
recently studied the size effect on axial compressive behaviour of crete, it is expected that size effect in CFDT columns is less significant

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 3. Interaction between the outer concrete and inner CFST.

than that in conventional CFST columns. This is confirmed by the test further compared with the measured ultimate strengths (Nue) in Fig. 6.
results reported by Wan and Zha [15], where size effect was negligible Following the definition proposed by Tao et al. [24], the ultimate
for the CFDT specimens with an overall diameter of 426 mm. However, strength is defined as the first peak load corresponding to an axial strain
size effect may still be available in CFDT columns with thin-walled less than 0.01 if the N − ε curve has a descending branch (such as the
tubes; further research should be conducted in this area. curve in Fig. 4b); otherwise the ultimate strength is defined as the load
at the strain of 0.01 (a typical example is shown in Fig. 4c). For circular
columns, the mean value (µ) and the standard deviation (SD) of NuFE/
2.2. Verification of the FE model
Nue are 0.954 and 0.068, respectively; whilst the corresponding values
of µ and SD are 0.995 and 0.058 for square columns, respectively. As
Wang et al. [16] have verified the FE model with their own test data
can also be seen in Fig. 6, the prediction errors are normally
of 12 square CFDT stub columns. In their test program, longitudinal
within ± 10% for the ultimate strength. The comparisons shown in
stiffeners were provided for the thin-walled outer square tubes with a
Figs. 4–6 indicate good prediction accuracy of the FE model.
Do/to ratio of 100. Excellent agreement has been achieved between the
experiment and simulation, in terms of failure mode, ultimate strength
and axial load–axial strain (N − ε) curve. If these test data reported by 2.3. Behavioural analysis
Wang et al. [16] are taken into account, test data of 40 circular and 35
square CFDT stub columns from five sources [3,11,14–16] are available The behaviour of square CFDT columns with longitudinal stiffeners
to verify the FE model. The detailed parameters of the test data are has been thoroughly analysed by Wang et al. [16], including the in-
summarised in Table 1. It should be noted that concrete cube com- teraction between different components. CFDT columns without stif-
pressive strengths were reported in the references except [3]. Since the feners have similar behaviour except that the influence of local buck-
concrete model for FE analysis uses concrete cylinder compressive ling might become significant if unstiffened thin-walled outer tubes are
strength ( fc ) as an input parameter, the cube strength was converted to used. Therefore, this section will focus on the behavioural analysis of
equivalent cylinder strength using a conversion table provided by Yu CFDT columns with thin-walled outer tubes, which are susceptible to
et al. [32]. As can be seen from Table 1, high-strength concrete (HSC, fc local buckling.
is between 60 and 120 MPa) was used in [11,14,16], whereas ultra-high Two typical CFDT stub columns are analysed, including a circular
strength concrete (UHSC, fc > 120 MPa) was used by Liew and Xiong column and a square column with the following parameters: Do
[3]. = 400 mm, to = 2.67 (circular) or 4 mm (square), Di × ti
N − ε curves are available for all test specimens except one square = 200 × 4 mm, L = 1200 mm, fyo = fyi = 400 MPa, and fco′ = fci′
specimen I-CSCFT1 in [11]. In general, the predicted N − ε curves are = 50 MPa. Therefore, the chosen Do/to values are 150 for the circular
in good agreement with the measured curves reported in the literature. column and 100 for the square column, which are extreme values in the
Figs. 4 and 5 compare the predicted N − ε curves with typical experi- analysed parameter ranges in Section 3. For comparison purposes, the
mental results of circular and square CFDT columns, respectively. As corresponding CFST columns without inner tubes are also analysed.
can be seen, the concrete strength has not apparently affected the When the analysed circular CFDT column reaches its peak load, the
prediction accuracy. It should be noted that N − ε curves of the spe- axial load carried by the outer circular tube with a Do/to ratio of 150 is
cimens tested by Wang et al. [16] are not compared in Fig. 5, since they only 69% of its nominal strength fyoAso. Because of the presence of the
have been rigorously compared with predictions in [16], showing an inner tube in confining concrete, the peak load of this column is still
excellent agreement between them. 6.2% higher than the superposition strength of all components. If the
The predicted ultimate strengths from the FE model (NuFE) are Do/to ratio of the outer tube decreases to 100 and other parameters

Table 1
Summary of test data for CFDT stub columns.
Type Number of specimens Do (mm) Do/to Di (mm) Di/ti Di/Do fyo (MPa) fyi (MPa) fco (MPa) fci (MPa) Source

Circular 6 426 55–57 133–273 20–42 0.3–0.6 298–302 317–478 25 25 Wan and Zha [15]
8 219 22–44 114 18–32 0.5 377–381 406–428 51–167 51–184 Liew and Xiong [3]
26 168–219 21–37 89–102 13–23 0.4–0.6 313–365 322–413 33–88 33–88 Fang and Lin [14]
Square 23 180 33–50 89–140 25–49 0.5–0.8 338–348 308–345 78–96 78–96 Qian et al. [11]
12 200 100 115–140 29–70 0.6–0.7 230 322–492 42 42–70 Wang et al. [16]

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 4. Comparison between predicted and measured N − ε curves for circular CFDT columns.

remain the same, the axial load carried by the outer tube increases to concrete dilation. For the square columns, no obvious outward de-
75% of its nominal strength. At the same time, the peak load of the formation is found before the axial strain reaches 800 με. After that, the
column is 8.2% higher than the superposition strength. When the outward deformation develops rapidly and reaches about 35 mm cor-
square CFDT column reaches its peak load, the axial load carried by the responding to an axial strain of 0.01. Meanwhile, a gap develops be-
outer square tube with a Do/to ratio of 100 is only 54% of fyoAso because tween the outer square tube and concrete, inferring that the outward
of the significant influence of local buckling, whereas the peak load of deformation of the square tube is only caused by the in-plane com-
this column is 2.7% lower than the superposition strength. However, if pressive stress. It is not surprising that the square tube is more prone to
the ratio of Do/to decreases to 30 and other parameters remain the local buckling. It can also be found in Fig. 7 that the outward de-
same, the local buckling influence of the outer square tube on the formation of a CFDT column is quite close to that of the CFST coun-
strength will be eliminated. In this case, the axial load carried by the terpart. Similarly, it is found that the presence of the inner steel tube
outer tube increases to 88% of its nominal strength as the column has no significant influence on the interaction between the outer steel
reaches its peak load, which is 2.3% higher than the superposition tube and concrete.
strength. It has been well documented that a compact steel tube de- The initial compressive stiffness of the thin-walled CFDT column is
velops an axial stress less than the yield stress due to the interaction compared with the superposition stiffness of individual components,
between the steel tube and concrete [26]. In general, both examples which indicates a close agreement between them. It can be concluded
highlight that local buckling of the steel tube leads to a reduction in the that local buckling of the outer tube has no obvious influence on the
compressive strength of the stub column. This finding is similar to that initial compressive stiffness since local outward deformation is not
observed in conventional CFST columns [33]. obvious in the initial stage, as can be seen in Fig. 7.
The outward deformation of the outer steel tube at the mid-height is For structural design purposes, engineers may want to have a limit
analysed, where Point A shown in Fig. 2 is selected. Fig. 7 shows the criterion specified for the Do/to ratio to exclude influence of local
corresponding outward deformation as a function of the axial strain for buckling of thin-walled outer tubes on the strength of CFDT columns.
the selected CFDT columns and the corresponding CFST counterparts. Uy [33] used a finite strip model to analyse local and post-local buck-
Both types of columns reach the ultimate strength at almost the same ling of square CFST columns, whereas Bradford et al. [34] adopted the
time. For the circular columns, the outward deformation of the outer Rayleigh–Ritz method to study the slenderness limit for circular CFST
tubes is only about 1 mm at peak load. After that, the outward de- columns. Since the outward deformation of the steel tube can be caused
formation develops gradually while the steel tube remains in contact by local buckling and/or interaction between the steel tube and con-
with the concrete. It seems the outward deformation of the circular tube crete, both Uy [33] and Bradford et al. [34] assumed that only the steel
results from the in-plane compressive stress in combination with the tube is subjected to uniform compression and concrete is a rigid

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 5. Comparison between predicted and measured N − ε curves for square CFDT columns.

Fig. 6. Comparison between predicted and measured ultimate strengths.

medium. Therefore, the concrete itself will not deform radially to push Therefore, the outward deformation of the steel tube will be affected by
the steel tube outward. According to the study conducted by Uy [33], the concrete dilation, making it hard to define the initiation of local
the limit of Do/to ratio could be specified as 60 250/ fyo for a square buckling of the outer tube. If adopting a similar method used by Uy
tube in the composite column to reach plasticity. The corresponding [33] or Bradford et al. [34] to study the limit of Do/to ratio for CFDT
slenderness ratio of a circular tube was specified as 125 × f by Brad-
columns, the presence of the inner tube will have no influence on the
ford et al. [34]. As for CFDT columns, the FE method developed in this local buckling behaviour. Therefore, the limit criteria suggested by Uy
paper is not suitable to define the limit criterion of Do/to ratio since the [33] and Bradford et al. [34] for conventional CFST columns are also
load is applied to the concrete and steel tubes simultaneously. applicable to CFDT columns. This is further supported by the fact that

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 7. Development of outward deformation at point A.

the outward deformation of a CFDT column is not obviously affected by enough to predict the compressive strength of thin-walled square CFDT
the inner tube, as shown in Fig. 7. It is worth noting that there is no columns with stiffeners. Since this paper aims to propose generalised
need to specify a limit of diameter to thickness ratio for the inner tube models for CFDT columns covering a wide range of parameters, the
since local buckling is avoided by embedding in concrete. superposition strengths (Nu0) calculated from Eq. (3) are firstly com-
pared with the ultimate strengths (NuFE) obtained from the FE predic-
3. Development of a numerical database tions. If it is necessary, new equations will be proposed to predict the
ultimate strength (Nu).
The verified FE model was used to generate numerical data to cover Nu0 = fyi Asi + fci A ci + f Aso + fco Aco
yo (3)
a wide range of parameters for CFDT stub columns. Based on the nu-
merical database, equations are then developed in Section 4 to predict where Aco is the cross-sectional area of the outer concrete sandwiched
the ultimate strength, the compressive stiffness and the ultimate strain between the two tubes.
of CFDT stub columns.
Seven key parameters are identified for the analysis, including the 4.1. Circular columns
yield stresses (fyi and fyo) and cross-sectional aspect ratios (Di/ti and Do/
to) of the inner and outer steel tubes, cylinder compressive strengths ( fci Fig. 8a shows the comparison between NuFE and Nu0 for circular
and fco ) of the inner and outer concrete, and Di/Do ratio. The levels columns. Generally, the simple supposition method underestimates the
chosen for these parameters are: fyi = 200, 400, 690, 960 MPa; fyo ultimate strength of the circular columns. The mean of NuFE/Nu0 is
= 200, 400, 690, 960 MPa; fci = 20, 50, 100, 150, 200 MPa; fco = 20, 1.100 for all the 435 examples and the maximum ratio reaches 1.195.
50, 100, 150, 200 MPa; Di/ti = 12, 30, 50, 100; Do/to = 12, 30, 50, 100, The clear strength enhancement results mainly from the concrete con-
150 for circular outer tubes and 12, 30, 50, 100 for square outer tubes; finement provided by the double circular tubes. A typical example is
and Di/Do = 0.25, 0.5, 0.75. Since size effect is not considered in the selected to demonstrate this, where parameters of the circular column
present study, the overall cross-sectional dimension Do is taken as are: fci = fco = 50 MPa, fyi = fyo = 400 MPa, Di/ti = Do/to = 50, and
400 mm and the length L of the columns is kept constant at 1200 mm. Di/Do = 0.5. Fig. 9 shows the N − ε curves of different components in
To develop the numerical database, it is not practical and necessary the column. This column reaches its ultimate strength at an axial strain
to analyse a total of 43,200 combinations of all parameters at various of 0.88%. At this moment, the two tubes are already in the post-peak
levels. Instead, 846 examples including 435 circular and 411 square regime due to the concrete dilation [26]. The corresponding axial
CFDT stub columns were designed to cover the parameter space in a stresses in the outer tube and inner tube are 0.78fyo and 0.87fyi, re-
reasonable manner. The chosen examples can be classified into three spectively. At the same time, the average axial stresses for the outer
groups: (1) examples in Group I were designed to conduct parametric concrete and inner concrete are 1.38 fco and 1.65 fci , respectively. Since
analysis for the inner CFST component (fyi, fci , Di/ti and Di/Do) when the concrete strength enhancement outweighs the strength reduction of
parameters for the outer CFST component (comprising of the outer tube the steel tubes at the ultimate state, the ultimate strength of this CFDT
and outer concrete) were kept constant (fyo = 400 MPa, fco = 50 MPa column is 14.3% higher than Nu0.
and Do/to = 50); (2) examples in Group II were designed to conduct The above analysis indicates that it is generally conservative to ig-
parametric analysis for the outer CFST component (fyo, fco and Do/to) nore concrete confinement effect in circular CFDT columns. Based on
when parameters for the inner CFST component were kept constant (fyi the numerical database, it is possible to develop equations in-
= 400 MPa, fci = 50 MPa, Di/ti = 50 and Di/Do = 0.5); and (3) ex- corporating the confinement effect to predict the ultimate strength (Nu)
amples in Group III listed in Table 2 have varying parameters for both of CFDT columns by summing the actual contributions from various
the inner and outer CFST components. Only examples in Groups I and II components. But due to the complex interaction between these com-
cover all possible combinations of various parameters, whereas Group ponents, it is envisaged that the equations will be relatively compli-
III mainly consists of examples with extreme values (lowest and cated using this method. Instead, this study applies a strength correc-
highest) specified for the parameters. tion factor ks to the superposition strength Nu0 to predict Nu, as shown
in Eq. (4).
4. Proposed model for compressive strength
Nu = ks Nu0 = k s fyi Asi + fci Aci + f Aso + fco Aco
Wang et al. [16] suggested that a superposition model is accurate

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Table 2
Analysed examples in Group III.
No. Do/to fco (MPa) fyo (MPa) Di/Do Di/ti fci (MPa) fyi (MPa) No. Do/to fco (MPa) fyo (MPa) Di/Do Di/ti fci (MPa) fyi (MPa)

1 50 50 200 0.5 50 50 200 49 50 20 400 0.5 12 50 400

2 50 50 200 0.5 50 50 690 50 50 20 400 0.5 30 50 400
3 50 50 200 0.5 50 50 960 51 50 20 400 0.5 100 50 400
4 50 50 690 0.5 50 50 200 52 50 150 400 0.5 12 50 400
5 50 50 690 0.5 50 50 690 53 50 150 400 0.5 30 50 400
6 50 50 690 0.5 50 50 960 54 50 150 400 0.5 100 50 400
7 50 20 400 0.5 50 50 200 55 30 50 400 0.5 12 50 400
8 50 20 400 0.5 50 50 690 56 30 50 400 0.5 30 50 400
9 50 20 400 0.5 50 50 960 57 30 50 400 0.5 100 50 400
10 50 150 400 0.5 50 50 200 58 100 50 400 0.5 12 50 400
11 50 150 400 0.5 50 50 690 59 100 50 400 0.5 30 50 400
12 50 150 400 0.5 50 50 960 60 100 50 400 0.5 100 50 400
13 30 50 400 0.5 50 50 200 61 50 50 200 0.25 50 50 400
14 30 50 400 0.5 50 50 690 62 50 50 200 0.75 50 50 400
15 30 50 400 0.5 50 50 960 63 50 50 690 0.25 50 50 400
16 100 50 400 0.5 50 50 200 64 50 50 690 0.75 50 50 400
17 100 50 400 0.5 50 50 690 65 50 20 400 0.25 50 50 400
18 100 50 400 0.5 50 50 960 66 50 20 400 0.75 50 50 400
19 50 50 200 0.5 50 20 400 67 50 150 400 0.25 50 50 400
20 50 50 200 0.5 50 100 400 68 50 150 400 0.75 50 50 400
21 50 50 200 0.5 50 150 400 69 30 50 400 0.25 50 50 400
22 50 50 200 0.5 50 200 400 70 30 50 400 0.75 50 50 400
23 50 50 690 0.5 50 20 400 71 100 50 400 0.25 50 50 400
24 50 50 690 0.5 50 100 400 72 100 50 400 0.75 50 50 400
25 50 50 690 0.5 50 150 400 73 50 50 960 0.5 50 50 200
26 50 50 690 0.5 50 200 400 74 50 50 960 0.5 50 50 690
27 50 20 400 0.5 50 20 400 75 50 50 960 0.5 50 20 400
28 50 20 400 0.5 50 100 400 76 50 50 960 0.5 50 150 400
29 50 20 400 0.5 50 150 400 77 50 50 960 0.5 30 50 400
30 50 20 400 0.5 50 200 400 78 50 50 960 0.5 100 50 400
31 50 150 400 0.5 50 20 400 79 50 50 960 0.25 50 50 400
32 50 150 400 0.5 50 100 400 80 50 50 960 0.75 50 50 400
33 50 150 400 0.5 50 150 400 81 50 100 400 0.5 50 50 200
34 50 150 400 0.5 50 200 400 82 50 200 400 0.5 50 50 690
35 30 50 400 0.5 50 20 400 83 50 100 400 0.5 50 20 400
36 30 50 400 0.5 50 100 400 84 50 200 400 0.5 50 150 400
37 30 50 400 0.5 50 150 400 85 50 100 400 0.5 30 50 400
38 30 50 400 0.5 50 200 400 86 50 200 400 0.5 100 50 400
39 100 50 400 0.5 50 20 400 87 50 100 400 0.25 50 50 400
40 100 50 400 0.5 50 100 400 88 50 200 400 0.75 50 50 400
41 100 50 400 0.5 50 150 400 89 12 50 400 0.5 50 50 200
42 100 50 400 0.5 50 200 400 90a 150 50 400 0.5 50 50 690
43 50 50 200 0.5 12 50 400 91 12 50 400 0.5 50 20 400
44 50 50 200 0.5 30 50 400 92a 150 50 400 0.5 50 150 400
45 50 50 200 0.5 100 50 400 93 12 50 400 0.5 30 50 400
46 50 50 690 0.5 12 50 400 94a 150 50 400 0.5 100 50 400
47 50 50 690 0.5 30 50 400 95 12 50 400 0.25 50 50 400
48 50 50 690 0.5 100 50 400 96a 150 50 400 0.75 50 50 400

Columns with Do/to = 150 are only considered for circular CFDTs.

Fig. 8. Comparison between NuFE and Nu0 for circular columns.

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

NuFE/Nu0 ratio is also larger. The differences in behaviour can be ex-

plained by the less significant concrete confinement by the outer square
tube and its increased possibility of local buckling. For stocky CFDT
columns with small Do/to ratios, their NuFE/Nu0 ratios are generally
greater than unity, highlighting the benefits of strong concrete con-
finement. A typical column with a thick outer tube is simulated to il-
lustrate this. The parameters of this column are: Do/to = 12, fci = fco
= 50 MPa, fyi = 400 MPa, fyo = 690 MPa, Di/ti = 50 and Di/Do = 0.5.
The obtained NuFE/Nu0 ratio for this example is 1.079. On the other
hand, the NuFE/Nu0 ratios are generally smaller than unity when the Do/
to ratios reach 100, as shown in Fig. 11a. This is due to the local
buckling of the outer thin-walled tube and the weak concrete confine-
ment. For example, for a thin-walled CFDT column (Do/to = 100, fci =
50 MPa, fco = 20 MPa, fyi = fyo = 400 MPa, Di/ti = 50 and Di/Do =
0.5), its NuFE/Nu0 ratio decreases to 0.946. In contrast, the NuFE/Nu0
ratios of most examples with a Do/to ratio of 30 or 50 are close to unity
since the outer square tubes are not susceptible to local buckling.
Fig. 9. N−ε curves for a typical circular column.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the NuFE/Nu0 ratio of a square CFDT
column is also dependent on the Do/to ratio.
Thus, ks can be expressed as ks = Nu/Nu0. If Nu is determined from Another fact to be considered is that the ultimate strain (εc) corre-
FE modelling, ks can be calculated as NuFE/Nu0 by replacing Nu with sponding to the ultimate strength is relatively small for a square CFDT
NuFE. Parametric analysis indicates that the confinement factor of the column. In most cases, εc varies between 3000 and 4000 με. However,
outer concrete (ξo) is the primary factor influencing ks for circular CFDT εc of a circular CFDT column normally exceeds 4000 με and sometimes
columns, as shown in Fig. 8b. The general trend is that ks increases with can be greater than 0.01. Thus, the different components in a square
increasing ξo when ξo < 2. When ξo increases further, ks reaches a CFDT column are less likely to reach their strengths at the same time,
constant value. Other parameters, such as ξi, also slightly affect ks. But especially when ultra-high strength materials are used. This is illu-
for the sake of simplicity, only ξo is considered to derive an equation to strated in Fig. 12, where the column has an inner tube with a fyi of
predict ks. Accordingly, Eq. (5) is suggested to predict ks for circular 960 MPa, and other parameters for the column are: Do/to = 50, fci = fco
CFDT columns. = 50 MPa, fyo = 400 MPa, Di/ti = 50 and Di/Do = 0.75. The inner
CFST of this column is relatively strong, but its capacity has not been
k s = 1.13 0.16exp ( 2.54 o ) (5)
fully utilised. As shown in Fig. 12, the outer tube of this column reaches
The accuracy of the proposed equation for ks can be found in its peak load before the column reaches its ultimate strength. While the
Fig. 10, where the coefficient of determination (R2) is 0.56. Because of outer concrete reaches its full capacity at an axial strain of 3213 με, the
the ignorance of influence of other minor factors, the value of R2 is not composite column as a whole also reaches its ultimate strength. But at
very high, but remains reasonable. ks predicted from Eq. (5) varies from this moment, the inner concrete and inner tube have not reached their
0.97 to 1.13. The prediction accuracy of Nu from Eq. (4) will be de- full load-carrying capacity. In fact, the inner CFST only reaches 67% of
monstrated in subsection 4.3. its capacity. Therefore, the ks-value of this column is 0.945, which is
smaller than unity. A survey of the numerical data indicates that the
values of ks are normally smaller than unity when fco > 150 MPa,
4.2. Square columns fyi > 690 MPa or fyo > 690 MPa. But ks has not been adversely affected
by the adoption of ultra-high strength inner concrete. This can be ex-
Fig. 11a provides a comparison between NuFE and Nu0 for square plained by the fact that the ductility of the inner concrete is greatly
columns, where the ratio of NuFE/Nu0 ranges from 0.841 to 1.099. In improved to allow the utilisation of its strength.
general, the NuFE/Nu0 ratio also increases with increasing ξo, as can be As can be seen in Fig. 11a, the superposition model expressed by Eq.
seen in Fig. 11b. But compared to circular columns, these square col- (3) provides reasonable predictions for most square CFDT columns.
umns generally have smaller NuFE/Nu0 ratios and the variation in the However, it should also be noticed that the predictions will be relatively
conservative if Eq. (3) is used to predict the ultimate strength of square
CFDT columns with a small Do/to ratio. Most importantly, unsafe pre-
dictions will be obtained if thin-walled outer tubes or ultra-high
strength materials are used. Therefore, Eq. (4) expressed as ksNu0 is also
adopted herein for square CFDT columns, where ks can be larger or
smaller than unity.
Based on regression analysis, Eq. (6) is proposed to calculate ks for
square CFDT columns, which is a function of ξo and Do/to. Meanwhile,
three correction factors k1, k2, k3 are introduced to account for the
reduction in ks for using ultra-high strength outer concrete, outer tube
and inner tube, respectively.

7 Do 0.6
ks = 1 7 × 10 + 0.022 o
k1 k2 k3
to (6)

1 20 fco 150 MPa

k1 =
1.15 0.001fco 150 < fco 200 MPa (7)
Fig. 10. ks of circular CFDT columns as a function of ξo.

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 11. Comparison between NuFE and Nu0 for square columns.

Fig. 12. N − ε curves for a square column with an ultra-high strength inner
tube. Fig. 13. Comparison of ks between predictions by Eq. (6) and FE predictions for
square columns.

1 200 fyo 690 MPa

k2 = (µ) of Nuc/NuFE ratio is 0.999 and the standard derivation (SD) is 0.025.
1 0.003 ( )Do 1.73
(fco ) 1.37 (0.0037fyo 2.553) 690 < fyo 960 MPa
The corresponding values for the square columns are 0.997 and 0.024,
(8) respectively. This comparison confirms that there is a good agreement
between the predictions from Eq. (4) and the FE predictions for both
1 200 fyi 690 MPa circular and square columns. Fig. 14 also presents the prediction ac-
k3 =
1.0966 0.00014fyi 690 < fyi 960 MPa curacy for different groups of data. It seems that the source of numerical
data has no obvious influence on the prediction accuracy. This is also
in which the units of fco , fyo and fyi are MPa. the case when predicting the compressive stiffness and the ultimate
According to Eqs. (7)–(9), k1 decreases from 1 to 0.95 when fco strain, as can be seen in the following sections.
increases from 150 MPa to 200 MPa; k2 decreases from 1 to 0.86 when The predicted ultimate strengths (Nuc) from Eq. (4) are further
fyo increases from 690 MPa to 960 MPa for columns with a Do/to ratio of compared with the measured ultimate strengths (Nue) in Fig. 15. For the
100 and fco of 20 MPa; and k3 decreases from 1 to 0.96 when fyi in- 40 circular specimens, the values of μ and SD of the Nuc/Nue ratio are
creases from 690 MPa to 960 MPa. 0.965 and 0.057, respectively. For the 35 square specimens, the cor-
The ks−values predicted by Eq. (6) are compared in Fig. 13 with the responding values of μ and SD are 0.993 and 0.052, respectively. It
values calculated using the FE model. In general, the agreement be- should be noted that the strength contribution of stiffeners (fylAsl) was
tween them is reasonable, and the prediction errors of ks are generally directly added to the predicted strength as an additional term for the 12
within ± 10%. The coefficient of determination (R2) for Eq. (6) is 0.57, square CFDT columns with longitudinal stiffeners reported by Wang
which is close to that of Eq. (5). et al. [16], where fyl and Asl are the yield stress and total area of the
steel stiffeners, respectively. Meanwhile, the longitudinal stiffeners
4.3. Prediction accuracy could delay the local buckling of the thin-walled outer tubes. To con-
sider this beneficial influence, the cross-section slenderness Do/to in Eq.
Fig. 14 compares the predicted ultimate strengths (Nuc) from Eq. (4) (6) is replaced by the width-to-thickness ratio of the subpanel
with the FE predictions (NuFE). The range of Nuc/NuFE is from 0.942 to [(0.5Do−2to)/to] [35]. The comparison in Fig. 15 confirms a good
1.056 for the 435 circular examples, whereas that for the 411 square agreement between Nuc and Nue. The prediction errors of the ultimate
examples is from 0.941 to 1.066. For circular columns, the mean value strengths are generally within ± 10%.

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 14. Comparison between Nuc and NuFE.

5. Proposed model for compressive stiffness EA = Esi Asi + Eso Aso + c (Eci A ci + Eco Aco ) (10)

Following the definition of Huo et al. [36] and Yang et al. [37], the
compressive stiffness EA of CFDT columns were determined as the se- 5.1. Determining κc
cant stiffness corresponding to 0.4Nu from the FE predicted N − ε
curves. This definition was also adopted by Wang et al. [23] to derive From Eq. (10), κc can be derived as c = (EA Esi Asi Eso Aso )/
EA for conventional CFST columns. (Eci Aci + Eco Aco ) . Using this expression, κc can be determined for each
The values of EA from numerical predictions are compared in example in the numerical database. As already shown in Fig. 16, ξo has
Fig. 16 with (EA)0 calculated based on superposition. (EA)0 is expressed influence on the ratio of EA/(EA)0. Thus, it can be inferred that κc is also
as (EA)0 = Esi Asi +Eso Aso + Eci A ci + Eco Aco , in which Esi, Eso, Eci, and dependent on ξo. Parametric analysis indicates that κc is also slightly
Eco are the elastic moduli of the inner tube, outer tube, inner concrete affected by ξi, Di/Do and fco . In general, κc decreases with increasing ξi,
and outer concrete, respectively. In this study, Esi and Eso are taken as and the influence is similar to that of ξo. Meanwhile, κc also decreases
200,000 MPa, whereas Eci and Eco are determined using the empirical with increasing Di/Do ratio. As the Di/Do ratio increases, the area of the
equation presented in ACI 318 [38]. The same values have been outer concrete decreases and that of the inner concrete increases. Since
adopted in the FE modelling. In general, EA is smaller than (EA)0 due to the inner concrete is normally better confined than the outer concrete,
the nonlinearity of concrete. The stronger the confinement, the larger is the concrete as a whole develops higher nonlinearity. Furthermore, κc
the stiffness reduction for the concrete [23]. As shown in Fig. 16, EA is increases with increasing fco . This can be explained by the fact that
generally close to (EA)0 when ξo is relatively small. However, EA tends higher strength concrete demonstrates less pronounced nonlinearity in
to decrease with increasing ξo, and EA can be 12% lower than (EA)0 the ascending stage.
within the parameter range. Therefore, the superposition model may be To simplify the calculation, however, κc is only considered as a
used to predict EA, but a reduction in stiffness should be considered for function of ξo. Based on regression analysis, Eqs. (11a) and (11b) are
the inner and outer concrete. Although it is possible to introduce two proposed to predict the values of κc for circular and square CFDT col-
reduction factors for the inner concrete stiffness (Eci Aci ) and outer umns, respectively.
concrete stiffness (Eco A co ), respectively, it is found that a single re-
c =1 0.014 o 0.7 for circular CFDT (11a)
duction factor ( c ) can be used for both inner and outer concrete
components to simplify the calculation. Thus, Eq. (10) is proposed to c =1 0.011 0.74 for square CFDT (11b)
predict EA for CFDT columns.
Fig. 17 compares the predicted c from Eq. (11) with the numerical

Fig. 15. Comparison between Nuc and Nue.

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 16. Comparison between EA and (EA)0.

data obtained from the FE analysis. The value of R2 is 0.307 for circular (Nu) reflects the deformation ability and ductility to some extent.
columns, whereas the corresponding value is 0.371 for square columns. Compared to a circular outer tube, a square outer tube is less effective
The R2-values are relatively low due to the neglect of the influence of ξi, to confine concrete in compression. Therefore, the square column
Di/Do and fco . generally has a smaller εc than the circular counterpart.
The compressive strains (εcFE) obtained from the FE analysis are
5.2. Prediction accuracy used to conduct parametric analysis for CFDT columns. It is found that
key parameters influencing εcFE include ξo, Di/Do and ξi for circular
The compressive stiffness (EA)c of CFDT columns calculated from columns (Fig. 19), whereas the corresponding parameters are ξo, Di/Do,
Eq. (10) are compared in Fig. 18 with the values of (EA)FE determined and fyi for square columns (Fig. 20). In general, εcFE increases with an
from the FE analysis. The range of (EA)c/(EA)FE is from 0.979 to 1.106 increase in ξo as a result of better confinement from the outer tube, as
for circular columns and the corresponding range is from 0.978 to shown in Figs. 19a and 20a. This effect is more significant in circular
1.084 for square columns. For the examples of 435 circular columns, columns than in square columns. Meanwhile, εcFE increases with in-
the mean value μ and standard deviation SD of (EA)c/(EA)FE are 1.003 creasing Di/Do ratio for circular columns when the ratio of Di/ti is kept
and 0.016, respectively. The corresponding values of μ and SD are 0.996 constant. This can be explained by the fact that the area of the inner
and 0.010, respectively, for the examples of 411 square columns. It is tube increases and more concrete is confined by the double tubes. Thus,
obvious that the proposed model can predict the compressive stiffness the circular CFDT column becomes more ductile. However, the influ-
of CFDT columns with very good accuracy. ence of the Di/Do ratio is only obvious for square columns with an fyi
It is worth noting that concrete is a time-dependent material and the greater than 690 MPa, as shown in Fig. 20b. This is because the failure
axial stiffness of the CFDT members will be affected by the concrete of a square CFDT column is mainly determined by the outer CFST
shrinkage and creep. To quantify the influence, further research is re- component rather than the inner CFST. For the same reason, εcFE in-
quired to investigate the behaviour of CFDT columns under long-term creases with increasing ξi for circular CFDT columns, whereas the in-
loading. fluence of ξi is minor for square CFDT columns. However, it is found
that the square CFDT column will become more ductile if fyi of the inner
steel tube is relatively high, as shown in Fig. 20b. To simplify the cal-
6. Proposed model for compressive strain corresponding to the
culation of εc, however, the influence of Di/Do and fyi is neglected.
ultimate strength
Based on regression analysis, Eq. (12) is proposed to predict the ulti-
mate compressive strains εc for CFDT columns.
The compressive strain (εc) corresponding to the ultimate strength

Fig. 17. Verification of proposed equation of κc.

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 18. Comparison between (EA)c and (EA)FE.

Fig. 19. Influence of various parameters on εcFE for circular columns.

Fig. 20. Influence of various parameters on εcFE for square columns.

2.5 0.53
Do 3.3 3.2 Do 1.37
c = 4500 0.004 + 6000 exp ( 0.1 0.016 ) c = 3100 + 2700 10000 for square columns
o i o
to to
10000 for circular columns (12a)
It should be noted that the ratio of Do/to also partially reflects the
concrete confinement level in a CFDT column and Do/to is included in
Eq. (12) as a separate term to improve the prediction accuracy. In the

Y. Zheng, Z. Tao Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 174–188

Fig. 21. Comparison between εcc and εcFE.

regression analysis, the obtained value of R2 is 0.907 for circular col- strength of the inner concrete fci or the outer concrete fco
umns, whereas the corresponding value is 0.848 for square columns. = 20 − 200 MPa; (c) diameter-to-thickness ratio of the inner tube Di/ti
Fig. 21 shows the comparison between the predicted strains (εcc) = 12 − 100; (d) diameter-to-thickness ratio of the outer tube Do/to
from Eq. (12) and FE predicted values (εcFE). The mean value μ and = 12 − 150 for circular columns, and wide-to-thickness ratio Do/to
standard deviation SD of εcc/εcFE are 0.998 and 0.095, respectively, for = 12 − 100 for square columns; and (e) dimension ratio of the inner
the 435 circular columns; whilst the corresponding values of μ and SD tube to the outer tube Di/Do = 0.25 − 0.75.
are 1.001 and 0.113, respectively, for the 411 square columns. It can be
seen from Fig. 21 that the prediction errors of εcc are normally Acknowledgements
within ± 20%. Compared with Eqs. (4) and (10) developed for the
ultimate strength and compressive stiffness respectively, Eq. (12) is less This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation
accurate in predicting the compressive strain. However, the prediction of China (Grant No.: 51678151). It has also been supported by the
accuracy of Eq. (12) is still reasonable and this equation can be used by China Scholarship Council. The financial support is highly appreciated.
engineers to conduct preliminary design.
7. Conclusions
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