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Dynamic Response of Concrete Frames Including Plain

Ductile Cementitious Composites

Jiangtao Yu 1; Junhong Ye 2; Bin Zhao 3; Shilang Xu 4; Bin Wang 5;
and Kequan Yu, M.ASCE 6
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Abstract: Ultrahigh ductile cementitious composites (UHDCC) developed by the authors has the tensile strain capacity up to 10%.
Considering UHDCC has deformability close to steel used for the reinforcement of the concrete, the authors tried to study the feasibility
of using plain UHDCC in civil engineering construction. In the present study, shaking table tests were conducted on two one-quarter–scale
two-story frame models. One was a reference frame made of reinforced concrete (RC), while the other was a frame, of which all the seismic-
vulnerable parts were made of plain UHDCC and the rest parts were inherited from the reference RC frame. The RC frame and UHDCC frame
were exposed to a series of scaled earthquakes with the peak ground acceleration ranging from 0.105g to 1.178g. The seismic capacities of
two frames were evaluated in terms of damage pattern, interstory shear-drift behavior and residual drift. It is indicated that the UHDCC
frame had a similar seismic resistance capacity to the reference RC frame and performed even better in vibration control. According to the
acquired dynamic characteristics and tensile strain, a preliminarily explanation was given to the seismic performances of the UHDCC frame.
Finally, according to the relevant provisions in various seismic codes, the seismic performance level of the UHDCC frame was estimated.
DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0002292. © 2019 American Society of Civil Engineers.
Author keywords: Automatic construction; Engineered cementitious composite; Strain hardening; Shaking table test; Drift ratio.

Introduction construction industries. Engineers are now struggling to address

the issue by developing automatic construction, e.g., 3D building
Concrete is known as a material with excellent compressive printing (Perkins and Skitmore 2015). However, when concrete is
strength but weak tensile capacity (James and James 2011). In most broadly adopted as raw material for building printing, the work of
of engineering practices, concrete structures have to be incorpo- processing and installing steel reinforcement can never be saved.
rated with steel reinforcement to achieve sufficient strength and Therefore, how to effectively enhance the mechanical performance
ductility in their service lives. Nevertheless, steel reinforced con- of concrete has become one of the keys for civil engineering in the
crete structures are still not ductile enough under extreme future.
impacts, such as explosion and earthquake. Apart from the safety The previous issues may be addressed once the natural brittle-
concerns, there are environmental and economic implications ness of concrete is overcome. Just imagine what will happen if
associated with concrete degradation under service conditions concrete has sufficient strength and strain capacity. First, the brittle
(Herrmann 2013). Obviously, repeatedly repairing RC infrastruc- failure of concrete structure may be eliminated and steel reinforce-
tures because of cracks, steel corrosions, and concrete spalls, is un- ment may be kicked out of concrete; then steel reinforcement
sustainable and costly. Moreover, due to the ageing population all corrosion will never be a problem for civil engineers, thus the
over the world, labor shortage is becoming a burning problem for sustainability and durability of infrastructures can be dramatically
enhanced. Last but not the least, free from steel reinforcement,
Associate Professor, State Key Laboratory of Disaster Reduction in a highly efficient automatic concrete construction should be
Civil Engineering, Key Laboratory of Performance Evolution and Control realized.
for Engineering Structures, Dept. of Disaster Mitigation for Structures, In the past several decades, comprehensive efforts have been
Tongji Univ., Shanghai 200092, China. Email: made by researchers to overcome the brittleness of concrete. Add-
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Disaster Mitigation for Structures, Tongji ing short random fibers to concrete matrix, which forms fiber-
Univ., Shanghai 200092, China. Email: reinforced concrete (FRC), has proven to be an effective way to
Professor, State Key Laboratory of Disaster Reduction in Civil Engi-
improve the mechanical properties of concrete, particularly the
neering, Dept. of Disaster Mitigation for Structures, Tongji Univ., Shanghai
200092, China (corresponding author). Email:
fracture toughness, strength, and energy absorption under impact
Professor, College of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Zhejiang (Naaman 2003). Strain-hardening cementitious composites (SHCC)
Univ., Hangzhou 310058, China. Email: [also known as engineered cementitious composites (ECC)] are a
Research Associate, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, family of FRC with microcracking and strain-hardening character-
Hong Kong Polytechnic Univ., Hong Kong 999077, China. Email: istics under increasing tension. Generally, normal ECCs have the tensile strengths from 3 to 15 MPa, and the corresponding tensile
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Disaster Mitigation for Structures, Tongji strain capacities from 2% to 5% (Li 2003; Yu et al. 2015; Wu and Li
Univ., Shanghai 200092, China. Email:
2017; Zhang and Zhang 2017, 2018; Lu et al. 2018). Conversely,
Note. This manuscript was submitted on March 13, 2018; approved on
September 27, 2018; published online on March 27, 2019. Discussion according to the ISO code (ISO 2008), steel used for reinforcing
period open until August 27, 2019; separate discussions must be sub- concrete should have a tensile strain capacity more than 7% and
mitted for individual papers. This paper is part of the Journal of Struc- an elongation at breaking point over 15%. Additionally, the codes
tural Engineering, © ASCE, ISSN 0733-9445. for building’s seismic design usually require an even greater tensile

© ASCE 04019042-1 J. Struct. Eng.

J. Struct. Eng., 2019, 145(6): 04019042

deformability. For instance, the seismic design code issued in China Shaking Table Test
requires that the tensile strain capacity of steel reinforcement should
be more than 9% [GB 50011 (SAC 2016)]. It implies that, although Geometries and Reinforcement
ECC possesses the exceeding tensile capacity, it may be still insuf-
ficient to be used as structural material solely, especially under Shaking table tests were carried out in the laboratory of civil en-
extreme conditions, such as earthquake. Recently, a new type of gineering disaster reduction at Tongji University. The MTS shaking
ECC with superior deformability (tensile strain capacity ranging table with planar size of 4 × 4 m is capable of generating ground
from 8% to 12%) has been developed, which was named as ultra- motions with six degrees of freedom (DOF). Under a payload
high ductile cementitious composites (UHDCC). The direct tensile of 150 kN, the maximum accelerations can reach 1.20g in the
strength of UHDCC is in the range of 4–20 MPa, and the compres- horizontal directions.
sive strength is in the range of 15–150 MPa (Yu et al. 2015, 2017, The prototype structure was a building with a two-story and
2018a, b, c). Moreover, beams made of plain UHDCC had the sim- single-bay frame in one direction, and a two-story and double-
ilar bearing capacities to RC beams having steel reinforcement ratio bay frame in the other direction. The story height was 6 m and
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of 0.5% to 1.5% under monotonic loadings (Ding et al. 2018b; Yu the beam spans in two directions were 8 and 6 m, respectively.
et al. 2018b). It is the first time that a cementitious material matches Due to the size limitation of the shaking table, the model structures
the deformability of reinforcing steel, thus making itself a sole were designed at a reduced scale of 1:4 (i.e., SL ¼ 0.25) as shown
material to be used in building construction. in Fig. 1, of which the planar size was 2 × 3 m and the story height
Conversely, because earthquake remains one of the most severe was 1.5 m.
risks to all the existing structures and RC frame is one of the most The reinforcement of the RC model frame is illustrated in Fig. 2.
vulnerable structure forms under earthquake, comprehensive stud- The reinforcement ratios of beams, side columns and middle col-
ies have been conducted to improve the seismic performance of umns were 0.7%, 1.9%, and 2.3%, respectively. Tensile test showed
RC frame. Many researchers have tried to replace the concrete that the yield stress and peak stress of ϕ8 rebar (8 mm in diameter)
in RC frame with FRC (Khuntia and Goel 1998; Shannag et al. were 319 and 451 MPa, respectively, with the strain at peak stress
2005; Parra-Montesinos et al. 2005; Li and Wang 2002), and their
test results indicated that the incorporation of fiber effectively re-
duced the requirement of shear stirrups in the joint zone and could
also provide a satisfactory seismic performance even if no stirrups
were used. Moreover, in the last decade, some researchers have
used ECC to enhance the seismic capacity of structural compo-
nents. Fischer and Li (2002) and Fischer (2003) investigated the
effect of ductile deformation behavior of ECC on the response of
steel reinforced flexural members subjected to lateral reversal
loads. The test results showed an advantageous synergistic effect
between ECC matrix and steel reinforcement. Billington and Yoon
(2004) found that using ECC allowed the precast column system to
dissipate more hysteretic energy than the traditional RC system,
and maintain better integrity under cyclic loads. Kesner and
Billington (2005) developed an infill system made by ECC for
frame structures as a retrofit strategy for critical facilities, the test
results indicated that the strength and stiffness can be enhanced by
the different mix designs of ECC. Dong et al. (2012) and Pan et al. Fig. 1. Planar layout of the frames (unit: millimeters).
(2017) experimentally and numerically studied the seismic behav-
iors of steel reinforced ECC/RC composite beams and columns
under low-cyclic loading. Yuan et al. (2013) and Wu et al. (2017)
found that steel reinforced engineered cementitious composite
columns are superior to RC columns in terms of ductility, energy
dissipation capacity, and damage tolerance. And it is of interest that
the combination of superelastic shape memory alloys and ECC was
effective in reducing damage and increasing the serviceability of
bridge columns after strong earthquakes (Varela and Saiidi 2014).
In all the previous studies, FRC were designed to work together
with longitudinal reinforcement. Exceptionally, Su (2018) con-
ducted cyclic lateral loading tests on five UHDCC beams without
steel reinforcement. It is indicated that the plain UHDCC beams
possessed excellent seismic capacity, which matched that of RC
beams with the steel reinforcement ratios of 1%.
Nevertheless, no experiment or analysis focused on the re-
sponse of a whole structures made of plain concrete or FRC under
dynamic loadings. In light of this situation, the authors tried to
conduct shaking table tests on a frame primarily made of plain
UHDCC. In comparison to a reference frame, i.e., a normal RC
frame, the performance of such a structure will be taken as a pre-
liminary demonstration for using plain cementitious composites in
Fig. 2. Reinforcement details of RC frame (unit: millimeters).

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Table 1. Typical scale factors for model earthquakes are equivalent to those of a prototype under actual
Parameter Relationship Model/prototype earthquakes. Therefore, the seismic performance of an actual struc-
ture can be directly reflected by the model test results.
Length SL 0.25
Strain Sε 1.0
Modulus of elasticity SE 0.37 Material Properties
Stress Sσ ¼ SE 0.37
Specific mass Sρ ¼ Sσ =ðSL · Sa Þ 0.79 One of UHDCCs reported in literature (Yu et al. 2017; Ding et al.
Mass Sm ¼ Sσ · S2L =Sa 1.23 × 10−2 2018a) was employed as prototype material for UHDCC frame,
Drift ratio Sθ 1.0 namely UHDCC-P in the present paper. The mechanical property
Damping Sc ¼ Sσ · S1.5
L · Sa
3.38 × 10−2 of UHDCC-P is listed in Table 4. UHDCC-P has the similar elastic
Period 0.5
ST ¼ SL · Sa −0.5 0.36 modulus and compression strength, but a tensile strain capacity two
Frequency Sf ¼ S−0.5
L · S0.5
a 2.76 orders of magnitude higher than that of high strength concrete.
Sv ¼ ðSL · Sa Þ0.5 Also, normal strength concrete (Concrete-P in Table 4) was taken
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Velocity 0.69
Acceleration Sa 1.90 as the prototype material for RC frame, of which the elastic modu-
lus is about 30 GPa and compressive strength is about 30 MPa.
Considering the scale factors of elastic modulus and stress were
of 15.6%, while the yield stress and peak stress of ϕ6 rebar (6 mm equal to 0.37, the scaled elastic modulus and compressive strength
in diameter) were 445 and 535 MPa, respectively, with the strain at of Concrete-M and UHDCC-M should be reduced to about 11 and
peak stress of 19.5%. The diameter of 10# and 14# steel wires were 11 MPa, respectively. Moreover, the tensile strength of UHDCC-M
3.25 and 2 mm, respectively, of which the tensile strengths were should be 0.37 of the tensile strength of UHDCC-P (i.e., 4.9 MPa),
450 MPa. which is extremely important because no longitudinal reinforce-
ment exists in UHDCC.
Accordingly, the materials used to fabricate the model frames
Similitude Laws were specially designed to tailor the target properties. To reduce
For the scaled models to be tested on the shaking table, the simili- the tensile and compressive strengths of UHDCC-M, water content
tude laws of the elastoplastic materials between the prototypes and was artificially increased, and ground granulated blast furnace slag
the models are essential. Because the dynamic behaviors of a struc- (GGBFS) and silica fume used in the UHDCC-P were replaced
ture can be identified by three basic parameters, i.e., stiffness, mass, with fly ash. To achieve high strain capacity, short-cut polyethylene
and restoring force, which are relevant to time (t), length (L), (PE) fibers of 2% in volume fraction were kept in UHDCC-M
modulus of elasticity (E), and specific mass (ρ), the following ex- matrix. Conversely, lime powder was used as inactive admixture to
pression can be obtained: fabricate Concrete-M. The mix proportions of the prototype and
model materials are shown in Table 2; the mechanical and geo-
SE metric information of the PE fiber used in mixture is given in
¼1 ð1Þ
Sρ · Sa · SL Table 3.
Experiments were conducted to verify the similarity of material
where SE , Sρ , SL , and Sa are the scale factors of E, ρ, L, and the properties. Dog bone–shaped samples were used in the standard-
acceleration a, respectively. It is obvious from Eq. (1) that only ized tensile test (JSCE 2008). After 28 days curing, three
three of the four model parameters are independent (Zhou et al. UHDCC-M samples were tested on a MTS electroservo machine
2011; Harris and Sabnis 1999). (1 N resolution), as shown in Fig. 3. All the specimens exhibited
Theoretically, Sa should be 1.0 because the mass-induced accel- multicracking and strain hardening behavior under increasing ten-
eration remains constant. However, the maximal value of the noise sile loads. Fig. 4 illustrates the tensile behavior of UHDCC-M,
may be larger than the amplitude of input in case of small earth- whose tensile strain capacity reached 13.55% at the peak stress
quake, leading to a distorted seismic input pattern. Therefore, the of 4.97 MPa, showing a significant advantage in deformability over
acceleration scale factor Sa was set to be 1.9 and additional mass ordinary FRC. The averaged cracking strain and cracking strength
was attached to the model to compensate the lack in gravity. Con- of UHDCC-M were 0.2% and 3.2 MPa, respectively. Compared
sequently, the total weight of the model reached 51.8 kN, including with normal concrete and mortar, the cracking strain of UHDCC
a weight of 27.6 kN from the additional mass. The scale factor of is obviously higher due to the PE fiber reinforcement. Furthermore,
SE was estimated to be 0.37 according to Eq. (1), and all the other by plotting the tensile stress-strain curves of UHDCC-M (with the
scale factors were computed as shown in Table 1. The time scale y-axis on the left side) and UHDCC-P (with the y-axis on the right
factor Sf is calculated to be 2.76 according to Eq. (2) side) in a same diagram as shown in Fig. 5, it is evident that the
sffiffiffiffiffiffi similitude laws of material’s tensile behavior was achieved. The
Sa cylinders of UHDCC-M and Concrete-M before and after the com-
Sf ¼ ð2Þ
SL pression test are shown in Fig. 6. Compared with the spalling
Concrete-M cylinder, the UHDCC-M cylinders exhibited exceed-
Note that the scale factors of strain and drift ratio are both 1.0, ing plastic deformability. The compressive stress-strain curves
which means the strain and the drift ratio of a model under scaled shown in Figs. 7 and 8 indicate that UHDCC-M had a similar

Table 2. Mix proportion of material (kg=m3 )

Mixture ID Silica sand Cement Lime powder Fly ash GGBFS Silica fume Water HRWR
UHDCC-P (prototype material) 700 500 — — 650 150 230 25
UHDCC-M (model material) 874 592 — 712 — — 413 5.0
Concrete-M 1,300 259 61 — — — 300 —

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Table 3. Properties of PE fiber 7

Category Property 6
Diameter (μm) 24

Tensile stress (MPa)

Strength (GPa) 2.9
Elastic modulus (GPa) 116 4
Length (mm) 18
Rupture elongation (%) 2.6 3
Density (g=cm3 ) 0.97
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0.00 0.03 0.06 0.09 0.12 0.15 0.18

Tensile strain

Fig. 4. Tensile strain versus stress curves of UHDCC-M.

8 24


Tensile stress (MPa)

Tensile stress (MPa)
5 14

3 9

0 -1
0.00 0.03 0.06 0.09 0.12 0.15
Tensile strain

Fig. 5. Tensile behavior of UHDCC-M and UHDCC-P.

UHDCC-M Concrete-M

Fig. 3. Tensile test on dog bone–shaped specimen.

elastic modulus and compressive strength to Concrete-M, but pos-

sessed a compressive deformability 10 times greater than that of
As shown in Table 4, the elastic moduli of Concrete-M and
UHDCC-M are close to 11 GPa, and the compressive strengths of
both materials are close to 11 MPa. Consider that the tensile Fig. 6. Specimens before and after compression test.
strength of UHDCC-M is about 0.38 of that of UHDCC-P. Refer-
ring to the aforementioned targets, the similarity of material’s
mechanical properties was satisfied.
• After the shaking table test for the RC frame, the seismically
damaged parts, i.e., all the columns, the column-beam joints
Model Construction
in the first story and the foundation, were demolished. The
The RC frame was made of Concrete-M and steel reinforcement, reserved parts (the white zones in Fig. 11) included the middle
whose geometries and reinforcement are shown in Figs. 1 and 2. parts of the beams, all the slabs in the first story, and all the
The RC frame was first tested on the shaking table as shown in beams, slabs, and the upper parts of columns in the second story.
Fig. 9. Then the UHDCC frame was fabricated by assembling plain • UHDCC-M was used to rebuild the demolished parts, including
UHDCC components and the reserved parts of RC frame with the columns and column-beam joints in the first story (the gray
following steps: zones in Figs. 10 and 11, also the white zones in Fig. 12).

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components and RC components were painted red, as shown
14 in grayscale in Fig. 12. In this way, the UHDCC frame was
Stress (MPa)

10 Test Setup and Procedure

8 A total of 10 linear variable differential transducers (LVDT) and
12 accelerometers were installed to the UHDCC frame in x- and
y-directions; see Fig. 1. A noncontact displacement measurement
4 system was also employed to track the movement of the UHDCC
frame at 31 points. Two additional LVDTs were installed at the
2 bottom ends of two columns for verification. The layout of instru-
mentation is illustrated in Fig. 13.
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0.00 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 The RC frame was designed for a seismic zone of intensity 7.5
Compressive strain according to the Chinese code [GB 50011 (SAC 2016)], in which
buildings in a seismic zone are required to sustain the earthquakes
Fig. 7. Compressive strain-stress curves of UHDCC-M. of major, moderate, and minor levels, whose return periods in years
are 2,475, 475, and 50, and the exceedance probability is 2%, 10%,
and 63.2%, respectively, within 50 years of the design period.
Accordingly, the peak ground acceleration (PGA) corresponding
to the minor, moderate, and major levels of seismic intensity 7.5
16 Concrete-M1 is specified as 0.055g, 0.15g, and 0.31g, respectively. El Centro,
Concrete-M2 Kobe, and Shanghai artificial waves were chosen as ground input
Concrete-M3 in shaking table tests. The Shanghai artificial wave was specifically
Stress (MPa)

chosen for the soft soil condition in eastern China. During test, all
10 the ground motions were applied in x-direction, as shown in Fig. 1.
8 The time histories of seismic accelerations were scaled to achieve
6 the same peak value for all the intensity levels.
As listed in Table 5, the test process was divided into six stages.
From Stages 1 to 6, the seismic inputs were chosen as earthquakes
2 of the following intensity: Minor 7.5, Moderate 7.5, Major 7.5,
0 Major 8.0, Major 8.5, and Major 9.0, respectively. Note that the
0.0000 0.0010 0.0020 0.0030 test on the RC frame terminated after Stage 4, i.e., the major earth-
Compressive strain quake of intensity 8.0, while the UHDCC frame experienced all the
earthquake excitations. Between each two stages, white noise input
Fig. 8. Compressive strain-stress curves of Concrete-M. was applied to acquire the variations of dynamic characteristics of
the frames.

The geometric dimensions of UHDCC beams and columns were Results and Discussion
identical to those of the demolished RC components. No long-
itudinal steel bar or stirrup was used in fabricating the UHDCC
components. Then, those UHDCC components were installed to Cracking and Damage Pattern
the foundation, which was to be cast again after demolition, as Seismic damages were recorded at the end of every stage. For the
shown in Fig. 10. RC frame, no visible crack was observed before inputting Stage 2,
• The precast UHDCC components (the gray zones in Fig. 11, i.e., Moderate 7.5. Vertical cracks occurred at the ends of beams in
also the white zones in Fig. 12) and the reserved RC frame were the first story after Moderate 7.5 (E2, K2, and SH2 in Table 5).
assembled and connected together using high fluidity mortar. With the increase in the seismic intensity, horizontal cracks oc-
The compressive strength of the high fluidity mortar cubes curred at the column ends of the first story. After Major 8.0 (E4,
(50 × 50 × 50 mm) was 43.2 MPa. Fig. 11 shows the gaps K4, and SH4 in Table 5), concrete spalling was observed at the ends
before casting, as well as steel bars used for connecting. The of the beams in the first story and steel reinforcement was slightly
reserved beams, columns, and joints of the RC frame were buckled.
painted yellow, all the reserved slabs in the first and second story For the UHDCC frame, no visible crack appeared before input-
were painted blue, and the connections between the UHDCC ting Moderate 7.5. Vertical cracks were found at the beam ends of

Table 4. Mechanical property of UHDCC and fine aggregate concrete used for models
Tensile strain Peak tensile Elastic Peak compression
Mixture ID capacity (%) strength (MPa) modulus (GPa) strength (MPa)
UHDCC-P (prototype material) (Ding et al. 2018a) 10.13 13.21 32.80 94.00
UHDCC-M (model material) 13.55 4.97 8.94 12.85
Concrete-P (prototype material) — — 30.00 30.00
Concrete-M (model material) — — 10.93 9.23

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Interstory Drift Ratio and Base Shear
The maximal interstory displacements and drift ratios of the tested
frames are listed in Table 6, and the relations between PGA and
interstory drift ratio under different types of seismic input are pre-
sented in Fig. 17. At Minor 7.5, the interstory drift ratios of the
UHDCC frame subjected to El Centro, Kobe, and Shanghai artifi-
cial waves were 1:769, 1:927, and 1:721, respectively, which sat-
isfied the required lower limit (i.e., 1:550) defined by the Chinese
code [GB 50011 (SAC 2016)]. While at Major 7.5, the interstory
drift ratios of the UHDCC frame reached 1:95, 1:90, and 1:50, re-
spectively, which were also smaller than the allowable value of 1:50
[GB 50011 (SAC 2016)]. Compared with the interstory drift of the
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RC frame, the drift of the UHDCC frame was smaller under minor
earthquakes but increased at a higher rate. At Major 8.0, the drifts
of the UHDCC frame exceeded those of the RC frame, especially
under the Shanghai artificial wave. As mentioned previously, the
UHDCC frame underwent some extra excitations, i.e., Major
8.5 and Major 9.0, of which the PGAs were 0.969g and 1.178g,
respectively. At Major 9.0, the interstory drift ratios of the UHDCC
frame under El Centro and Kobe waves of Major 9.0 reached
1:26 and 1:35, respectively. Note that the drifts were highly depen-
Fig. 9. RC frame on shaking table. dent on the types of seismic input. Specifically, the drifts under the
Shanghai artificial wave were significantly greater than those under
the El Centro and Kobe waves.
Residual displacement is widely adopted as an indicator to
evaluate the damage of structures after earthquake. During the test,
the maximum residual displacements of the first and second stories
of the UHDCC frame were 5.1 and 8.1 mm, which occurred at the
Major 8.5 Shanghai artificial wave. The corresponding residual
drifts of the UHDCC frame reached 1:294 and 1:185, respectively.
After all the earthquake input, the accumulated residual displace-
ments of the UHDCC frame at the first and second stories reached
5.01 and 10.32 mm, respectively. The corresponding residual drift
of the UHDCC frame were 1:299 and 1:145, respectively. Accord-
ing to the Japanese design specification (Japan Road Association
Precast UHDCC column 2002), to make sure a bridge is capable of sustaining limited dam-
ages during an earthquake and recovering within a short period, the
residual displacement of piers should be less than 1/100 times of
the height from the pier bottom to the point of inertia force of the
superstructure. Obviously, the state of the UHDCC frame met this
Precast UHDCC components
Steel bars for foundation
The relations of base shear versus drift ratio and base shear ver-
sus GPA are illustrated in Figs. 18 and 19. It is clearly seen that the
base shears of UHDCC frame are equal or even a slightly higher
Fig. 10. Processing steel bars for the foundation of UHDCC frame.
than that of the RC frame at Minor 7.5. After that, all the base shear
curves of the UHDCC frame bends toward the x-axes, exhibiting
nonlinear behavior under strong earthquakes. At Major 8.0, the
the first story after Moderate 7.5. During Major 8.0 and Major 8.5, shears of the UHDCC frame were 53.39%, 73.87%, and 58.58%
cracks initiated and grew near the beams and columns adjacent to of those of the RC frame under El Centro, Kobe, and Shanghai
core joints of the first story. In the whole process of testing, no waves, respectively. The shears reached their peaks at different
UHDCC spalling occurred and no visible damage was observed intensities of earthquake, specifically Major 7.5 for RC frame under
in the connections (Fig. 12) and the reserved RC components the El Centro and Kobe waves, Major 8.0 for UHDCC frame under
(Fig. 12). The typical cracking patterns of the UHDCC frame the Kobe wave, and Major 8.5 for UHDCC frame under the El
are illustrated in Fig. 14. An electronic telescope was used to mea- Centro wave.
sure crack width, as shown in Fig. 15. It was found that the widths Fig. 20 illustrates the relations of PGA versus base share force
of most cracks were no more than 0.1 mm, except for several criti- and PGA versus drift, which are all averaged from the responses
cal cracks near core joints of the first story, of which the width ex- corresponding to El Centro, Kobe, and Shanghai artificial waves.
ceeded 1.0 mm after inputting Major 9.0, as shown in Fig. 16. In The averaged base shear of the UHDCC frame is obviously lower
general, the UHDCC frame realized the requirement of weak beams than that of the RC frame, while the drift of the UHDCC frame,
and strong columns by the seismic design codes [GB 50011 (SAC which is slightly lower under minor earthquakes, exceeds that of
2016) and NZS3101 (NZS 1995)]. Also, it exhibited excellent the RC frame at Major 8.0. Comparatively, the gap between the
crack width control over the RC frame under increasing seismic base shears is much bigger than that in drifts. To explain the differ-
loadings. ent responses of UHDCC frame and RC frame under earthquake,

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Connecting beams and columns
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Connecting beams and slabs

Fig. 11. Connection between the UHDCC components and reserved RC components.

60.0% of its original natural frequencies, respectively, which ex-

plains why the UHDCC frame lost its structural stiffness at a higher
rate than the RC frame. Furthermore, from Major 8.0 (0.76g) to
Major 9.0 (1.178g), the natural frequency of the UHDCC frame
reduced from 2.0 to 1.75 Hz, only 5% of its original value.
As mentioned previously, the drifts corresponding to Shanghai
artificial wave were obviously larger than those to El Centro and
Kobe waves, especially under high-intense excitations; see Table 6.
This can be easily explained by comparing the acceleration re-
sponse spectrums among different seismic input. Fig. 22 illus-
trates the acceleration response spectrums of El Centro, Kobe, and
Shanghai artificial waves, as well as the natural periods (frequency)
of the UHDCC frame at different stages. It is clear that the mag-
nitude of acceleration to Shanghai artificial wave exceeds the other
two after 0.4 s, and the gaps are broadened with the increasing
period, which is coincident with the drift development of the
UHDCC frame.
Fig. 23 illustrates the development of damping ratios. It is seen
that the damping ratios of both frames were increased with the in-
crease in PGA. From Minor 7.5 (0.105g) to Major 8.0 (0.76g), the
first modal damping ratio of the RC frame increased from 7.37%
Fig. 12. UHDCC frame after painting. (after Minor 7.5) to 9.27% (after Major 8.0), while that of the
UHDCC frame increased from 5.53% to 13.58%, which is about
1.5 times of RC frame. After Major 9.0 (1.178g), the first damping
ratio of the UHDCC frame reached 14.97%, increasing by 2.71
a discussion is conducted according to the dynamic characteristics
times that of its original.
of two frames in the following section.
It is known that concrete fracture deteriorates integrity of RC
structures, leading to the reductions of frequency and structural
Discussion Based on Dynamic Characteristics stiffness. It is also known that the development of damages can
Modal frequencies and damping ratios of the tested frames were enhance the energy dissipation of a structure. For normal RC struc-
identified by using the white-noise tests (Clough et al. 1993). The tures, vibrational energy is primarily dissipated by the kinematic
first and second modal frequencies and damping ratios are pre- hardening effect of steel reinforcement. While for FRC structures,
sented in Table 7. Fig. 21 shows the development of the frequen- the energy dissipation mechanism is different and primarily com-
cies. It is shown that the frequencies of both frames decreased posed of three parts: (1) energy dissipated by the chemical debond-
with the increasing PGAs. From Minor 7.5 (0.105 g) to Major 8.0 ing at matrix/fiber interface and frictional slipping as the fibers are
(0.76 g), the RC frame and the UHDCC frame reduced 35.5% and pulled out of the matrix; (2) energy dissipated at the enhanced crack

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Maximal strain point
on beam end
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LVDTs at column feet Maximal strain point
on column end

Fig. 13. Layout of instrumentation.

Table 5. Input earthquake motions

Earthquake PGA (g) Earthquake PGA (g)
Number intensity Stage Model/prototype Number of intensity Stage Model/prototype
1 White noise WN1 0.05 13 White noise WN4 0.05
2 Minor 7.5 E1 0.105/0.055 14 Major 8 E4 0.76/0.40
3 Minor 7.5 K1 0.105/0.055 15 Major 8 K4 0.76/0.40
4 Minor 7.5 SH1 0.105/0.055 16 Major 8 SH4 0.76/0.40
5 White noise WN2 0.05 17 White noise WN5 0.05
6 Moderate 7.5 E2 0.285/0.15 18 Major 8.5 E5 0.969/0.51
7 Moderate 7.5 K2 0.285/0.15 19 Major 8.5 K5 0.969/0.51
8 Moderate 7.5 SH2 0.285/0.15 20 Major 8.5 SH5 0.969/0.51
9 White noise WN3 0.05 21 White noise WN6 0.05
10 Major 7.5 E3 0.589/0.31 22 Major 9 E6 1.178/0.62
11 Major 7.5 K3 0.589/0.31 23 Major 9 K6 1.178/0.62
12 Major 7.5 SH3 0.589/0.31 24 White noise WN7 0.05
Note: E1 refers to the El Centro wave in Stage 1; K2 refers to the Kobe wave in Stage 2; and SH3 refers to the Shanghai artificial wave in Stage 3.

tips as the cracks propagate; and (3) energy dissipated by the open– Discussion of Tensile Strain Capacity
close effect of the fiber-bridged crack mouths under cyclic loading.
The maximal values of strain in UHDCC were calculated based
In normal conditions, the magnitude of energy dissipated by FRC
on the displacement data acquired by the noncontact displacement
cannot match that dissipated by steel reinforcement. However,
measurement system and LVDTs. Figs. 24 and 25 illustrate the
due to its ultrahigh strain-hardening characteristics, UHDCC be-
development of the maximal strains under various earthquakes.
comes a material comparative to RC in energy dissipation. From
the perspective of structural dynamics, the decreased structural fre- From Minor 7.5 (0.105g) to Moderate 7.5 (0.285g) and Major
quency reduces the energy input from ground motion, and the in- 7.5 (0.589g), the strain of UHDCC in column was increased from
creased damping ratio enhances the energy dissipation of structure. 0.05% to 0.16% and 0.91%; simultaneously the strain of UHDCC
Thereby, the UHDCC frame experienced close interstory drift but in beam was increased from 0.09% to 0.47% and 1.24%, respec-
drastically reduced base shear in comparison with the RC frame, tively. As mentioned previously, the cracking strain of UHDCC is
thus it is demonstrated to have a potential of helping structures about 0.2%, while the cracking strain of normal concrete and mor-
achieving vibration control under strong earthquakes. tar is commonly about 0.05%. It implies that there should be much
Although UHDCC is preliminarily proved to have acceptable fewer cracks occurring in the UHDCC frame at low-intense exci-
seismic capacity, there is still a concern about its deformability tations, e.g., at Minor 7.5. As a proof, it is shown that the natural
under cyclic loading, which in turn determines the ductility and frequency of the UHDCC frame dropped by 5%, while that of the
reliability of a whole structure under strong earthquakes. The fol- RC frame dropped by 10%. This provides an explanation for the
lowing section focuses on the tensile strain capacity of UHDCC comparatively low drift for the UHDCC frame at low-intense seis-
during testing. mic excitation.

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Fig. 14. Damage pattern of the UHDCC frame after shaking table test: (a) crack pattern of beam adjacent to core joint; and (b) crack pattern of column
adjacent to core joint. The numbers written on specimens refers to the number of the white noise test when new cracks were observed.

Critical crack
range: 2 mm

Fig. 15. Crack width of UHDCC frame. Fig. 16. Critical cracks in UHDCC frame.

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Table 6. Maximal interstory displacement and drift ratios El centro (RC)
Kobe (RC)
70 Major 7.5
RC frame UHDCC frame Shanghai (RC)
Major 8.0
El centro (UHDCC)
Interstory Interstory 60
Kobe (UHDCC)
Seismic displacement Drift displacement Drift Shanghai (UHDCC)

Sh ear fo rce (kN)

50 Moderate 7.5
intensity Series (mm) ratio (mm) ratio
Minor 7.5 E1 2.74 1:547 1.95 1:769 40

K1 3.49 1:430 1.62 1:927 30

SH1 3.52 1:426 2.09 1:721
Major 8.5
Moderate 7.5 E2 8.13 1:185 5.78 1:259 Major 9.0
K2 11.37 1:132 9.14 1:164 10
SH2 10.89 1:138 7.73 1:194 Minor 7.5
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Major 7.5 E3 21.03 1:71 15.74 1:95 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4
K3 22.35 1:67 16.75 1:90 PGA (g)
SH3 22.83 1:66 29.96 1:50
Fig. 19. Base shear versus GPA.
Major 8.0 E4 24.35 1:62 28.12 1:53
K4 21.47 1:70 23.59 1:64
SH4 32.56 1:46 52.59 1:29
Major 8.5 E5 — — 45.25 1:33 Average of base shear (RC)
Average of base shear (UHDCC)
K5 — — 32.88 1:46 70 Average of top drifts (RC) 60
SH5 — — 76.15 1:20 Average of top drifts (UHDCC)

Major 9.0 E6 — — 57.77 1:26 60

K6 — — 43.30 1:35
Note: E1 refers to the El Centro wave in Stage 1; K2 refers to the Kobe 40

Sh ear fo rce (kN)

Difference in drifts
wave in Stage 2; and SH3 refers to the Shanghai artificial wave in Stage 3.

Drift (mm)
1.4 20
1.2 Difference in shear force
PGA (g)

0.8 0 0
El Centro (UHDCC) 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4
0.6 Kobe (UHDCC) PGA (g)

0.4 Shanghai (UHDCC)

El Centro (RC) Fig. 20. Response spectrum of seismic inputs.
0.2 Kobe (RC)
Shanghai (RC)
0 1/100 2/100 3/100 4/100 5/100 6/100
Inter-story drift ratio Table 7. Frequency and damping ratio of the tested frames
RC frame UHDCC frame
Fig. 17. Comparison of maximal relative displacements under different
seismic inputs. Frequency Damping Frequency Damping
(Hz) ratio (%) (Hz) ratio (%)
Series f1 f2 ξ1 ξ2 f1 f2 ξ1 ξ2
WN1 3.88 13.50 7.37 2.54 5.00 16.00 5.53 3.61
WN2 3.50 13.00 8.28 2.95 4.75 15.50 5.85 3.75
80 El centro (RC) WN3 3.25 12.00 8.97 3.68 3.00 13.00 11.31 6.59
Kobe (RC)
70 WN4 2.75 11.00 8.94 4.47 2.25 11.25 13.17 6.93
Shanghai (RC)
El centro (UHDCC)
WN5 2.50 10.50 9.27 4.56 2.00 10.00 13.58 6.49
Kobe (UHDCC) WN6 — — — — 1.75 9.50 12.73 7.25
WN7 — — — — 1.75 9.00 14.97 6.89
Shear force (kN)

50 Shanghai (UHDCC)


In the whole process of testing, the peak strains were detected
under the Shanghai artificial wave of Major 8.5. Among all the
10 measuring points, the strains appearing at the bottom end of a
middle column reached 5.55%, and those appearing at the side
0.00 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 end of a lateral beam reached 3.30%. Fig. 13 illustrates the specific
Drift ratio /% locations. According to the aforementioned similarity, the strains
acquired in the model test can be equivalently extrapolated to those
Fig. 18. Base shear versus drift ratio.
of the prototype subjected to real earthquakes. Therefore, the

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RC frame 1st frequency
RC frame 2nd frequency
UHDCC frame 1st frequency
UHDCC frame 2nd frequency
Frequency /Hz

El Centro
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PGA (g) Fig. 24. Maximal strain in the columns of the UHDCC frame.
Fig. 21. Frequencies in different stages.


SHW2 El Centro
Design response
0.20 spectrum SHW2

0.15 Minor 7.5

Moderate 7.5 Strain(%)
Major 8.0
Major 7.5 Fig. 25. Maximal strain in the beams of the UHDCC frame.
Major 8.5 and 9.0

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8
demand for tensile strain capacity of UHDCC frame in real seismic
Fig. 22. Acceleration response spectrums. scenarios was obtained.
Ductility remains one of the greatest concerns in seismic struc-
tural design. For RC structures, although the yield strain of rein-
forcing steel is only about 0.2%, the tensile strain at peak stress
should be more than 9% (GB 50011). This tremendous margin
in strain capacity ensures structural safety. Because UHDCC used
RC frame 1st damping in the present test has a tensile strain capacity greater than 8%, the
RC frame 2nd damping margins of the tensile strain capacity should be sufficient for struc-
UHDCC frame 1st damping tural material without steel reinforcement even under extremely
UHDCC frame 2nd damping strong earthquakes.

Evaluation of Seismic Performance of the UHDCC

Damping /%

ASCE standard (ASCE 2007) requires various structural perfor-

mance levels for RC frames subjected to earthquakes. For the basic
safety objective, an RC frame should achieve the life safety (LS)
performance level (3-C) under a moderate earthquake (exceedance
probability is 10% within 50 years) and the collapse prevention
performance level (5-E) under a major earthquake (exceedance
probability is 2% within 50 years). Accordingly, damages in ver-
tical structural components and interstory drifts are recommended
as indicators to determine the structural performance level of struc-
PGA (g) tures. As mentioned previously, UHDCC has excellent crack width
control, thus even the critical cracks in the UHDCC frame had a
Fig. 23. Damping ratios in different stages.
width far less than the limits provided in Tables C1–3 of ASCE

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Table 8. Structural performance levels of UHDCC frame and RC frame
Performance level Limited drift ratio UHDCC frame RC frame
Operational 1/550 >Minor 7.5 >Minor 7.5
Immediate occupancy 1% transient >Moderate 7.5 >Moderate 7.5
Life safety 2% transient and 1% permanent >Major 7.5 and Moderate 8.5 >Major 7.5 and Moderate 8.5
Collapse prevention 4% transient or permanent Major 8.5 >Major 8.0
Source: Data from ASCE (2007).

Table 9. Seismic performance objectives for RC frame buildings

Performance levels corresponding to the categorized building
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performance level A B C D UHDCC frame

Minor Operational Operational Operational Operational A, B, and C at 7.5
Moderate Operational Operational Immediate occupancy Life safety C at 7.5
Major Operational Immediate occupancy Life safety Collapse prevention C at 7.5
Extremely major Immediate occupancy Life safety Collapse prevention — C at 8.5

41-06 (ASCE 2007). Additionally, no spalling or shear cracking • The interstory drift ratios and the residual displacements of the
was observed during the shaking table test. Therefore, some of the UHDCC frame satisfy the demands from the codes for seismic
damage indexes for RC structures are not applicable for UHDCC design. And its performances satisfy the seismic performance
structures. In this study, the structural performance levels were objective for the majority of buildings located in the majority
solely determined by the interstory drift, as shown in Table 8. seismic zones all over the world.
Furthermore, according to the Chinese standard [GB 50223 The aforementioned conclusions are drawn based on limited test
(SAC 2008)], buildings can be classified into four categories, results. More systematic studies are needed to achieve a better
i.e., A, B, C, and D, depending on their consequence of failure understanding of the capacity of this new kind of structural form
and functional importance. For every category, there are specific at both serviceability state and ultimate limit state.
requirements to the levels of comprehensive performance of struc-
tures at different seismicity intensities (Jiang et al. 2013). For ex-
ample, Category C refers to the buildings with normal functions. Acknowledgments
Based on the contents in Table 8, the UHDCC frame was qualified
to satisfy the seismic performance objective for Category C ranging The authors gratefully acknowledge Projects 51478362 and
from Minor 7.5 to Major 8.5, as shown in Table 9. It implies that 51778461, which are supported by the National Natural Science
plain UHDCC may be strong and ductile enough for constructing Foundation of China. This research is also funded (2016-KF08)
the majority of buildings in the majority of seismic zones all over by the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Engineering Structure Safety
the world. (SRIBS), China.
In general, according to the behaviors of the UHDCC frame
under earthquakes, including the maximal interstory drift and base
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