Lateral torsional buckling of rectangular reinforced concrete beams
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The study presents the results of an experimental and analytical investigation aimed at examining the lateral stability of rectangular reinforced concrete slender beams. In the experimental part of the investigation, a total of eleven reinforced concrete beams having a depth to width ratio between 10.20 and 12.45 and a length to width ratio between 96 and 156 were tested. Beam thickness, depth and unbraced length were 1.5 to 3.0 in., 18 to 44 in., and 12 to 39.75 ft, respectively. Each beam was subjected to a single concentrated load applied at midspan by means of a gravity load simulator that allowed the load to always remain vertical when the section displaces out of plane. The loading mechanism minimized the lateral translational and rotational restraints at the load application point to simulate the nature of gravity load. Each beam was simply-supported in and out of plane at the ends. The supports allowed warping deformations, yet prevented twisting rotations at the beam ends. In the analytical part of the study, a formula was developed for determining the critical loads of lateral torsional buckling of rectangular reinforced concrete beams free from initial geometric imperfections. The influences of shrinkage cracking and inelastic stress-strain properties of concrete and the contribution of longitudinal reinforcement to the lateral stability are accounted for in the critical load formula. The experiments showed that the limit load of a concrete beam with initial geometric imperfections can be significantly lower than the critical load corresponding to its geometrically perfect configuration. Accordingly, a second formula was developed for the estimation of limit loads of reinforced concrete beams with initial lateral imperfections, by introducing the destabilizing effect of sweep to the critical load formula. The experimental results were compared to the proposed analytical solution and to various lateral torsional buckling solutions in the literature. The formulation proposed in the present study was found to agree well with the experimental results. The incorporation of the geometric and material nonlinearities into the formula makes the proposed solution superior to the previous lateral torsional buckling solutions for rectangular reinforced concrete beams.