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New PEER Report Published: 2013/20 “Experimental and Analytical Studies on the Seismic Behavior of Conventional and Hybrid Braced Frames”

PEER has just published Report No. 2013/20 titled “Experimental and Analytical Studies on the Seismic Behavior of Conventional and Hybrid Braced Frames” as a new addition to the PEER Report Series. It was authored by Jiun-Wei Lai and Stephen A. Mahin of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of California, Berkeley.

Visit the PEER publications page to download a free color pdf of the document.

This report summarizes both experimental and analytical studies on the seismic response of conventional steel concentrically braced frame systems of the type widely used in North America, and preliminary studies of an innovative hybrid braced frame system: the Strong-Back System. The research work is part of NEES small group project entitled “International Hybrid Simulation of Tomorrow’s Braced Frames.”

In the experimental phase, a total of four full-scale, one-bay, two-story conventional braced frame specimens with different bracing member section shapes and gusset plate-to-beam connection details were designed and tested at the NEES@Berkeley Laboratory. Three braced frame specimens were tested quasi-statically using the same predefined loading protocol to investigate the inelastic cyclic behavior of code-compliant braced frames at both the global and local level. The last braced frame specimen was nearly identical to one of those tested quasi-statically. However, it was tested using hybrid simulation techniques to examine the sensitivity of inelastic behavior on loading sequence and to relate the behavior observed to different levels of seismic hazard.

Computer models of the test specimens were developed using two different computer software programs. In the software framework OpenSees fiber-based line elements were used to simulate global buckling of members and yielding and low-cycle fatigue failure at sections. The LS-DYNA analysis program was also used to model individual struts and the test specimens using shell elements with adaptive meshing and element erosion features. This program provided enhanced ability to simulate section local buckling, strain concentrations, and crack development. The numerical results were compared with test results to assess and refine and the ability of the models to predict braced frame behavior. A series of OpenSees numerical cyclic component simulations were then conducted using the validated modeling approach. Two hundred and forty pin-ended struts with square hollow structural section shape were simulated under cyclic loading to examine the effect of width-to-thickness ratios and member slenderness ratios on the deformation capacity and energy dissipation characteristics of brace members.

The concept of a hybrid system, consisting of a vertical elastic truss or strong-back, and a braced frame that responds inelastically is proposed herein to mitigate the tendency of weak-story mechanisms to form in conventional steel braced frames. A simple design strategy about member sizing of the proposed Strong-Back System is provided in this study. To assess the ability of the new Strong-Back System to perform well under seismic loading, a series of inelastic analyses were performed considering three six-story hybrid braced frames having different bracing elements, and three six-story conventional brace frames having different brace configurations. Monotonic and cyclic quasi-static inelastic analyses and inelastic time-history analyses were carried out. The braced frame system behavior, bracing member force-displacement hysteresis loops, and system residual drifts were the primary response quantities examined. These tests indicated that the new hybrid system achieved its design goals.

Experimental results show for the same loading history that the braced frame specimen using round hollow structural sections as brace members has the largest deformation capacity among the three types of bracing elements studied. Beams connected to gusset plates at the column formed plastic hinges adjacent to the gusset plate. The gusset plates tend to amplify the rotation demands at these locations and stress concentrations tended to result in early fractures of the plastic hinges that form. To remedy this problem, pinned connection details were used in the last two specimens; these proved to prevent failures at these locations under both quasi-static and pseudo-dynamic tests. Failure modes observed near the column-to-base plate connections in all of the specimens suggest the need for further study. Both OpenSees and LS-DYNA models developed in this study predict the global braced frame behavior with acceptable accuracy. In both models, low-cycle fatigue damage models were needed to achieve an acceptable level of fidelity. Shell element models were able to predict local behavior and the mode of failures with greater but not perfect confidence. OpenSees analysis results show that the proposed hybrid braced frames would perform better than conventional braced frames and that the story deformations are more uniform. Finally, future research targets are briefly discussed at the end of this report.