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Stainless steel rebars: Recommendations for testing and design

Matti Pajari
15.9.2011

September 2011

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Stainless steel rebars: Recommendations for testing and design


Bakcground information for recommendations
The following recommendations R1 - R8 are based on experiences from a
preliminary study carried out 2010 - 2011 and documented in two reports [1,
2].
The stainless steel used in reinforced concrete structures is typically more
ductile and it may be stronger than the carbon steel used for the same
purpose. Due to these advantages, the amount of stainless steel may in some
cases be lower than that of the carbon steel. This is the case in beams and
slabs with light or moderate reinforcement if the 0,2% yield limit of the
stainless steel is equal to or greater than the yield stregth of the carbon steel.
However, due to the brittleness of the concrete, these advantages cannot be
fully exploited in heavily reinforced beams and slabs. In such structures, the
strain of the concrete governs the failure and the stiffer carbon steel tends to
be mechanically more effective than the stainless steel.
R1: Use Ramberg-Osgood expression for the constitutive law of stainless steel
The modified Ramberg-Osgood (R-O) expression


=
+ 0
E0
E0 0

(1)

approximates the constitutive behaviour (stress-strain relationship) of the


stainless steel. It tells how the stress and strain in a loaded rebar are
related. Parameters E0, , 0 and n are calibrated to fit with test results in the
strain range in which the highest accuracy is needed. For structural stainless
steel and stainless steel reinforcement this range is different. This difference
is discussed in R3. Consequently, it may be uneconomical to apply the same
parameters both to the structural stainless steel and stainless steel
reinforcement.
If n > 1, which is normally the case, E0 is the initial tangent modulus of the
curve = () determined by Eq. (1) or slope at the origin. At = 0, Eq.
(1) becomes

0
E0

0
E0

(2)

In other words, while 0/E0 represents the elastic deformation at this point,
the plastic deformation is equal to times elastic deformation. 0 is often set
= 0,2% yield limit of the steel. Then

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0
E0

= 0 ,002

(3)

In Eq. (1) the plastic deformation 0/E0, is scaled by (/0)n. The effect of n
is illustrated in Fig. 1 in which n is varied and the other R-O parameters are
kept constant. As can be seen, n controls the rate of strain hardening.
900
800
Stress [MPa]

700

n = 16
n = 13
n = 10

600
500
400
300

0 = 600 MPa
E0 = 180 GPa
= 0,5

200
100
0
0

Strain [%]

Fig. 1. Effect of n on strain hardening.


R2: Determine Ramberg-Osgood parameters from measured curves
Fig. 2 presents measured curves and Ramberg-Osgood model determined by
trial and error. Table 1 gives the numerical values of the Ramberg-Osgood
parameters of the obtained R-O model.

Stress [MPa]

1.4xxx
900
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
R-O

0,0

0,2

0,4

0,6

0,8

1,0

1,2

1,4

1,6

Strain [%]

Fig. 2. Example. R-O curve for beam and column section.

1,8

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Table 1. Example. Experimental values of R-O parameters.


Steel
E0 [GPa]
0 [MPa]

1.4xxx
170
600
0,6
15

R3: Do not use R-O parameters of structural stainless steel without checking
In structures made of structural stainless steel, the high ductility allows large
deformations in the ultimate limit state. For example, the bending resistance
is controlled by the strength rather than by the deformation, which makes the
accurate stress-strain behaviour less important in the ultimate limit state. It is
more important to know the stress-strain relationship in service conditions,
i.e. below appreciable yielding. In a steel section the deformations attain their
maximum and minimum values at the outer surfaces, and all intermediate
strain values in between. Therefore, in the service conditions, the
approximative constitutive law should be as accurate as possible for the
intermediate strains, too.
For bar reinforcement in a beam or slab the situation is different. The rebars
are placed close to the outer surfaces where they work effectively. It follows
that in service conditions all steel deformations on the tension side tend to be
of the same order as the maximum strains in a stainless steel beam. On the
compression side the elastic properties of the rebar are less important because
the amount of steel is small and because the compressive strain is controlled
by the properties of the concrete mainly. For these reasons, the stress-strain
behaviour for small strains is unimportant when calculating the deflections
etc.
Contrary to the steel beams, the ultimate resistance of a concrete beam is
sensitive to the deformations on the compression side. A bended concrete
beam is not likely to fail due to the rupture of the rebars but by crushing of
the concrete in compression. Since the crushing is strictly controlled by
deformation, it is not enough to know that there are strength reserves in the
reinforcement; the stress-strain relationship must also be known in the
ultimate limit state. To be able to accurately evaluate the resistance, the
constitutive law needs to be known beyond 0,2% yield limit, say until 2 - 5%
elongation but not further.
The different demands and different production methods mean that it would
be uneconomical to use the same R-O parameters both for structural and
reinforcing stainless steel. For the rebars, it may also be economical to use
different parameters for small strains and large strains. It is obvious, that the
R-O parameters for structural stainless steel given in Eurocode 3, Part 1-4 [4]
need revision when applied to stainless steel reinforcement.

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R4: Determine design curve from Ramberg-Osgood curve


4.1 Traditional model
The design rules developed for carbon steel reinforcement have also been
applied to the design of the stainless steel reinforcement. This is equivalent to
calculating the resistance assuming that the steel has the same 0,2% yield
limit as the stainless steel and taking all other parameters from the carbon
steel. Fig. 3 illustrates this method which is here called traditional. The
assumed curve comprises two linear parts: one with slope 200 GPa and the
other which is either horizontal or nearly horizontal. The design model is
obtained by dividing the stress on the (nearly) horizontal part by a safety
factor.

Stainless steel
800
Traditional assumption

Stress [MPa]

700

Measured curve

600
500
400

Traditional
design
model

300
200

/ 1,15

100
0
0,0

0,2

0,4

0,6

0,8

1,0

1,2

1,4

1,6

1,8

Strain [%]

Fig. 3. Design model in accordance with Eurocode 2 [3]. Draw a straight


line through the origin with the slope of 200 GPa, draw a roughly horizontal
straight line through the 0,2% proof strength and move the latter line
downwards to take into account the partial factor of 1,15.
4.2 Proposed model

Instead of the traditional design model, a model based on Ramberg-Osgood


curve and shown in Fig. 4 is recommended.

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Stainless steel
800
R-O model

Stress [MPa]

0,2
600
Design model
400

0,2 / 1,15

/ 1,15

200
R-O model /1,15
0
0,0

0,2

0,4

0,6

0,8

1,0

1,2

1,4

1,6

1,8

Strain [%]

Fig. 4. Recommended design model for stainless steel. 0,2 is the 0,2% yield
limit.
R5: TENSION TESTS
Tension tests are carried out to
a) determine the constitutive behaviour of the stainless steel and to provide
data for setting the required performance level
b) control the quality of production.
Classification and standardisation are discussed in R6 and R7. Assume that
there is a constitutive class XYZ for which the steel grade (e.g. 1.4311) has
been fixed. The mechanical performance criteria are given as a set of pairs
(i,i) where i and i are stress and strain at point i , i = 1,...,n and the stressstrain curve has to go above each of them. The performance level is
determined by fixing these values as shown in Table 1. These values serve
both as control points in quality control and as points which the structural
designer can use to find the R-O parameters for design purposes.
Table 2. Points specifying stress-strain relationship.
i
0
1
2
3
4

MPa
0
0,7 0,2%
1,0 0,2%

1
2

3
4

2%
7,5%

It is not necessary to continue the tensile tests beyond 7,5% strain because
7,5% strain cannot be exceeded before failure.

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Liaison with CEN TC 250/SC2 (Eurocode 2) is necessary when fixing the


requirements for quality control.
R6: CLASSIFY STAINLESS STEEL REBARS
To support the structural design, it is necessary to inform the designers about
the mechanical properties in advance. To this end, the producers need to
specify the minimum requirements which their products meet. It is likely that
there will be several chemical compositions per each producer. Then the
assortment of one producer, expressed using the stress-strain points 1 - 4
discussed above, might look like table 2. It is also possible that the bar
thickness affects the parameters.
Table 2. Performance criteria for constitutive classes. In test, (i ) shall
exceed i at all points i.
1.4xxx
i

1.4yyy

MPa

1
2
3
4

...
...
...
...

1.4zzz

MPa

...
...
...
...

...
...
...
...

MPa

...
...
...
...

...
...
...
...

...
...
...
...

R7: STANDARDIZE STAINLESS STEEL REBARS


Even though the producer-specific constitutive classes may serve as the first
step, they would make the design producer-specific, too. If the contractor
wants to buy the rebars from another producer, the design needs to be
checked taking into account the constitutive properties of the other producer.
This may result in changes in the amount and position of the rebars,
redrawing, recalculation of the steel tons etc. In the long run it is necessary to
reduce the number of the producer-specific classes and to adopt international
classification for widely used rebars.
R8: MODIFY EUROCODE 2 TO COVER STAINLESS STEEL REBARS
8.1 Constitutive law
Amend Eurocode 2 [3] by incorporating the constitutive law of the stainless
steel in the form of Ramberg-Osgood expression (1). In Eurocode 2,
introduce instructions how to determine the R-O parameters from the
properties of the constitutive classes. Allow both the use of the R-O
expression and multilinear approximations. After standardization of the
constitutive classes, it might be possible to give the R-O parameters in a steel
standard.

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8.2 Other amendments


The constitutive law of the stainless steel, particularly the varying slope of the
stress-strain curve or tangent modulus affects many clauses of Eurocode 2.
These include
- all clauses including the elasticity modulus of the carbon steel either
explicitly or implicitly
- all experimentally justified clauses if the stiffness of the reinforcement
plays a role in the experimental results.
All such clauses must be revised, and when the clauses are experimentally
justified, it may be necessary to carry out new tests.
The behaviour of stainless steel reinforcement in fire exposure shall be
studied and the related design rules implemented in Eurocode 2 [5].
REFERENCES
1 Tensile tests of 20 mm hot rolled ribbed reinforcing bars made from stainless steel. Test
Report No. VTT-S-01366-11. VTT Expert Services Ltd, 2011.
2 Design with stainless steel rebars applying Eurocode 2. Research Report No. VTT-S06464-11. VTT Expert Services Ltd, 2011.
3 EN 1992-1-1. Eurocode 2: Design of concrete structures. Part 1-1: General rules and rules for
Buildings.
4 EN 1993-1-4. Eurocode 3: Design of steel structures. Part 1-4:General rules. supplementary rules
for stainless steels.
5 EN 1992-1-2. Eurocode 2: Design of concrete structures. Part 1-2: General rules. Structural fire
design.