Title page for ETD etd-12032011-203513

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Yuan, Hao
Author's Email Address yuanhao@vt.edu
URN etd-12032011-203513
Title Optimization of Rib-To-Deck Welds for Steel Orthotropic Bridge Decks
Degree Master of Science
Department Civil Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wright, William J. Committee Chair
Charney, Finley A. Committee Member
Moen, Cristopher D. Committee Member
  • hot-spot stress
  • finite element analysis
  • full-scale test
  • fatigue
  • weld
  • statistical analysis
  • MLR
  • Steel orthotropic bridge deck
Date of Defense 2011-11-04
Availability unrestricted
Orthotropic steel deck has been widely used over the decades especially on long-span bridges due to its light weight and fast construction. However fatigue cracking problems on the welds have been observed in many countries. Rib-to-deck welds need special care since they are directly under wheel loads, which cause large local stress variations and stress reversals.

Currently the only requirement by AASHTO bridge code is that the rib-to-deck welds need to be fabricated as one-sided partial penetration welds with minimum penetration of 80% into the rib wall thickness. However considering the thin rib plate thickness, it is very difficult to achieve this penetration without a “melt-through” or “blow-through” defect. Large cost has been caused for the repair. However recent research has found that the fatigue performance of the rib-to-deck weld is not directly related to its penetration. Other factors contribute to the fatigue performance as well. Therefore, alternative requirements which are more cost-effective and rational are desired.

The objective of this research is to provide recommendations to the design and fabrication of rib-to-deck welds by investigating their fatigue performance with different weld dimensions, penetrations, and welding processes. Fatigue tests were performed to 95 full-scale single-rib deck segments in 8 specimen series fabricated with different welding processes and root gap openness. Specimens were tested under cyclic loads till failure. Three failure modes were observed on both weld toes and the weld root. Test results showed that the fatigue performance was more affected by other factors such as failure mode, R-ratio and root gap openness, rather than the weld penetration. The failure cycles were recorded for the following S-N curve analysis.

Finite element analysis was performed to determine the stress state on the fatigue cracking locations. Special considerations were made for the application of hot-spot stress methodology, which post-processes the FEA results to calculate the stress values at cracking locations with the structural configuration taken into account. The hot-spot stress range values were derived and adjusted accounting for the fabrication and test error. Hot-spot S-N curves were established for each specimen series.

Statistical analyses were performed to study in depth the effect of weld dimensions and test scenarios. Multiple linear regression (MLR) was performed to investigate the effects of different weld dimensions; and multi-way analysis of covariance (Multi-way ANCOVA) for the effects of specimen series, failure mode, R-ratio and weld root gap. It was found that the weld toe size was more relevant to the fatigue performance, other than the weld penetration. The failure mode and R-ratio were very influential on the fatigue performance. Recommendations to the weld geometry were proposed based on the MLR model fitting. S-N data were re-categorized based on ANCOVA results and the lower-bound S-N curve was established. AASHTO C curve was recommended for the deck design.

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