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Bridges

Norman Kwong

Physics 409D

Forces

Before we take a look at bridges, we

must first understand what are forces.

A force is a push or a pull

Lets a take a look at Newton’s law

Newton’s Laws

Sir Isaac Newton helped create the three laws

of motion

Newton’s First law

When the sum of the forces acting on a particle is

zero, its velocity is constant. In particular, if the

particle is initially stationary, it will remain

stationary.

upon”

Newton’s Laws

Continued

Newton’s Second law

A net force on an object will accelerate it—that is,

change its velocity. The acceleration will be

proportional to the magnitude of the force and in

the same direction as the force. The proportionality

constant is the mass, m, of the object.

“F = mass * acceleration”

Newton’s Laws

Continued

Newton’s Third law

The forces exerted by two particles on each

other are equal in magnitude and opposite in

direction

reaction”

So what do the laws tell

us?

Looking at the second law we get Newton’s

famous equation for force: F=ma m is

equal to the mass of the object and a is the

acceleration

Units of force are Newtons

A Newton is the force required to give a mass of one

kilogram and acceleration of one metre per second

squared (1N=1 kg m/s2)

So what do the laws tell

us?

However, a person

standing still is still

being accelerated

Gravity is an

acceleration that

constantly acts on you

F=mg where g is the

acceleration due to

gravity

So what do the laws tell

us?

Looking at the third law of motion

“for every action, there is a equal and opposite

reaction”

So what does this mean?

Consider the following diagram

A box with a force due to gravity

So what do the laws tell

us?

“for every action, there is an

equal and opposite reaction”

A force is being exerted on the

ground from the weight of the

box. Therefore the ground must

also be exerting a force on the

box equal to the weight of the

box

Called the normal force or FN

So what do the laws tell

us?

From the first law:

An object at rest will

stay at rest unless

acted upon

This means that the

sums of all the forces

but be zero.

Lets look back at our

diagram

The idea of equilibrium

forces must add up to zero

Forces in the vertical direction: FN and Fg

There are no horizontal forces

The idea of equilibrium

Adding up the forces we get FN + Fg = – Fg + Fg = 0

The object is said to be in equilibrium when the sums of the forces

are equal to zero

Equilibrium

Another important aspect of being in equilibrium

is that the sum of torques must be zero

What is a torque?

A torque is the measure of a force's tendency to

produce torsion and rotation about an axis.

A torque is defined as τ=DF where D is the

perpendicular distance to the force F.

A rotation point must also be chosen as well.

Torques

Torques cause an

object to rotate

We evaluate torque by

which torques cause

the object to rotate

clockwise or counter

clockwise around the

chosen rotation point

But what if the force isn’t

straight?

In all the previous diagrams, the forces

have all been perfectly straight or they

have all been perpendicular to the object.

Forces at an Angle

If the force is at an angle, we can think of the force as a triangle,

with the force being the hypotenuse

Forces at an Angle

To get the vertical

component of the

force, we need to use

trigonometry (also

known as the x-

component)

The red portion is the

vertical part of the

angled force (also

known as the y-

component

Θis the angle between

the force and it’s

horizontal part

■ To calculate the vertical part we take the

sin of the force

■ Fvertical =F * sin (Θ)

■ Lets do a quick sample calculation

■ Assume Θ=60o and F=600N

■ Fvertical = 600N * sin (60o) = 519.62N

Forces at an Angle

■ Likewise, we can do

the calculation of the

horizontal (the blue)

portion by taking the

cosine of the angle

■ Fhorizontal = F * cos (Θ)

■ Fhorizontal

= 600N * cos

(60o) =300N

Bridges

Now that we have a rough understanding of forces, we can

try and relate them to the bridge.

A bridge has a deck, and supports

Supports are what holds the bridge up

Forces exerted on a support are called reactions

Loads are the forces acting on the bridge

Bridges

A bridge is held up by the reactions exerted by

its supports and the loads are the forces

exerted by the weight of the object plus the

bridge itself.

Beam Bridge

Consider the

following bridge

One of the simplest

bridges

What are the forces acting

on a beam bridge?

There is the weight of the bridge

The reaction from the supports

Forces on a beam bridge

■ Here the red represents the weight of the bridge and the blue

represents the reaction of the supports

■ Assuming the weight is in the center, then the supports will

each have the same reaction

Forces on a beam bridge

Horizontal forces (x-direction): there are none

Vertical forces (y-direction): the force from the

supports and the weight of the bridge

Forces on a beam bridge

From the sums of forces Fy = -600N + 2 Fsupport =0

Doing the calculation, the supports each exert a force of

300N

To meet the other condition of equilibrium, we look at

the torques (τ=DF) with the red point being our

rotation point

τ= (1m)*(600N)-(2m)*(600N)+(3m)*(600N) = 0

Limitations

With all bridges, there is only a certain weight or

load that the bridge can support

are acted upon the bridge

What is happening?

There are 2 more other forces to consider in a

bridge.

Compression forces and Tension forces.

Compression is a force that acts to compress or

shorten the thing it is acting on

Tension is a force that acts to expand or lengthen

the thing it is acting on

There is compression at the top of the bridge and

there is tension at the bottom of the bridge

The top portion ends up being shorter and the

lower portion longer

A stiffer material will resist these forces and thus

can support larger loads

Bridge Jargon

Buckling is what happens to a bridge when the

compression forces overcome the bridge’s ability

to handle compression. (crushing of a pop can)

■ Snapping is what happens to a bridge when the

tension forces overcome the bridge’s ability to

handle tension. (breaking of a rubber band)

■ Span is the length of the bridge

How can deal with these

new forces?

If we were to dissipate the forces out, no

one spot has to bear the brunt of the

concentrated force.

an area of weakness to an area of

strength, or an area that is capable of

handling the force

A natural form of

dissipation

The arch bridge is one of

the most natural bridges.

of dissipation

In a arch bridge, everything is under compression

It is the compression that actually holds the bridge up

In the picture below you can see how the compression is being

dissipated all the way to the end of the bridge where eventually all

the force gets transferred to the ground

Compression in a Arch

Here is another look at the

compression

The blue arrow here

represents the weight of

the section of the arch, as

well as the weight above

The red arrows represent

the compression

Arches

Here is one more look at

the compression lines of

an arch

A Stronger Bridge

Another way to increase the strength of

a bridge is to add trusses

What are trusses??

A truss is a rigid framework designed to

support a structure

How does a truss help the bridge?

A truss adds rigidity to the beam, therefore,

increasing it’s ability to dissipate the

compression and tension forces

So what does a truss

look like?

A truss is essentially a triangular structure.

Consider the following bridge (Silver Bridge, South

Alouette River, Pitt Meadows BC )

Trusses

beam bridge.

But how does the truss increase the ability to handle forces?

Remember a truss adds rigidity to the beam, therefore, increasing it’s ability to

dissipate the compression and tension forces

Trusses

Lets take a look at a simple truss and how

the forces are spread out

Lets take a look at the forces here

Assumptions: all the triangles are equal lateral

triangles, the angle between the sides is 60o

Lets see how the forces are spread out

■Sum of torques = (1m)*(-400N) + (3m)*(-800N)

+(4m)*E=0

■E=700N

■Sum of forces = AY + E - 400N - 800N

■Ay=500N

Now that we know how the forces are laid out, lets

take a look at what is happening at point A

Remember that all forces are in equilibrium, so they

must add up to zero

■ Sum of Fx=TAC + TAB cos 60o = 0

■ Sum of Fy=TAB sin 60o +500N = 0

■ Solving for the two above equations we get

■ TAB = -577N TAC = 289N

Compression and

Tension

■TAB = -577N

■TAC = 289N

■The negative force

means that there is a

compression force

and a positive force

means that there is a

tension force

Lets take a look at point B

■Sum of Fx = TBD + TBC cos 60o + 577 cos 60o= 0

■Sum of Fy = -400N + 577sin60o –TBC sin60o=0

■Once again, solving the two equations

■TBC =115N TBD =-346N

Tension and

Compression

■TBC =115N

■TBD =-346N

The negative force

■The

means that there is

a compression force

and a positive force

means that there is

a tension force

Forces in a Truss

If we calculated the rest of the forces acting on the various points

of our truss, we will see that there is a mixture of both

compression and tension forces and that these forces are spread

out across the truss

Limitations of a Truss

As we can see from our demo, the

truss can easily hold up weights, but

there is a limitation.

the massive amount of material

involved in its construction.

Limitations of a Truss

In order to holder larger loads, the

trusses need to be larger, but that

would mean the bridge gets heavier

Eventually the bridge would be so

heavy, that most of the truss work is

used to hold the bridge up instead of

the load

Suspension Bridge

■Due to the limitations of

the truss bridge type,

another bridge type is

needed for long spans

■A suspension bridge can

withstand long spans as

well as a fairly decent

load.

How Suspension Bridge

Works

A suspension bridge uses the tension of

■A

cables to hold up a load. The cables are

kept under tension with the use of

anchorages that are held firmly to the Earth.

Suspension Bridge

■The deck is suspended from the cables and

the compression forces from the weight of

the deck are transferred the towers.

Because the towers are firmly in the Earth,

the force gets dissipated into the ground.

Suspension Bridge

■The supporting cables that are connected to the

anchorages experience tension forces. The cables

stretch due to the weight of the bridge as well as the

load it carries.

Anchorages

■ Each supporting cable is

actually many smaller cables

bound together

■ At the anchorage points, the

main cable separates into its

smaller cables

■ The tension from the main

cable gets dispersed to the

smaller cables

■ Finally the tensional forces

are dissipated into the

ground via the anchorage

Suspension Bridge Cable

■Here is a cross

section picture

of what a main

cable of a

suspension

bridge looks like

A Variation on the

Suspension

■A cable stayed bridge is a variation of the

suspension bridge.

■Like the suspension bridge, the cable stayed

bridge uses cables to hold the bridge and

loads up

Comparison

Forces in a Cable Stayed

■A cable stayed

bridge uses the cable

to hold up the deck

■The tension forces in

the cable are

transferred to the

towers where the

tension forces

become compression

forces

Forces in a Cable Stayed

■Lets take a quick look at the forces

at one of the cable points.

Forces in a Cable Stayed

The “Lifting force”

■The

holds up the bridge

The higher the angle

■The

that the cable is

attached to the deck,

the more load it can

withstand, but that

would require a higher

tower, so there has to

be some compromise

Limitations

With all cable type bridges, the cables

must be kept from corrosion

If the bridge wants to be longer, in most

cases the towers must also be higher,

this can be dangerous in construction as

well during windy conditions

“The bridge is only as good as the cable”

If the cables snap, the bridge fails

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