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Title No. 116-S23

Reliability-Based Design Provisions for Flexural Strength

of Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Prestressed Concrete Bridge
by Fei Peng and Weichen Xue

This paper develops reliability-based design provisions for flexural purposes—namely, carbon FRP (CFRP) and aramid
strength of prestressed concrete bridge girders with bonded fiber-re- FRP (AFRP).
inforced polymer (FRP) tendons, focusing on strength reduction Although the use of FRP as prestressing tendons shows
factors and the transition region between tension-controlled and great promise in terms of durability, the design provision
compression-controlled sections. First, a total of 48 bridge girders
developed for concrete structures with steel strands is not
covering a wide range of design scenarios are considered to conduct
necessarily applicable to those with FRP tendons. Gener-
stochastic simulation. Subsequently, the statistical parameters of
resistance are evaluated based on Monte-Carlo simulation. Then, the ally, the desired flexural failure mode in a traditional steel
first-order second-moment method is applied to calibrate strength prestressed concrete beam is yielding (not failing) of the
reduction factors to meet a uniform target reliability level, βT = 3.5, tension steel, followed by eventual crushing of the concrete
specified in AASHTO LRFD. Finally, a probabilistic analysis of flex- in the compression zone. Because FRP shows linear elastic
ural failure modes is conducted to determine a transition region in behavior up to rupture without yielding, brittle failure is
terms of ratio of provided-to-balanced reinforcement (ρb < ρ ≤ 1.5ρb) unavoidable in FRP prestressed concrete flexural members
instead of the traditional net tensile strain limits in ACI 440.4R-04. which fail due to concrete crushing (compression failure
As a result, this study recommends strength reduction factors of 0.80 mode) or FRP rupturing (tension failure mode). This is funda-
for tension-controlled sections, 0.85 for compression-controlled mentally different from steel prestressed concrete structures.
sections, and a linear variation in the transition region.
Currently, the load and resistance factor design (LRFD)
Keywords: bridge girders; fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP); prestressed methodology is widely accepted among researchers and
concrete; reliability; strength reduction factor; transition region. practicing engineers. The underlying principle of LRFD is
to achieve a certain target reliability level by calibrating load
INTRODUCTION and resistance factors. In recent years, several LRFD-based
The deterioration in concrete structures due to corro- guidelines and codes have been drafted to assist engineers
sion of steel reinforcements is one of the major challenges in the design and application of FRP tendons for prestressed
facing construction industry. According to the Research of concrete structures. For example, ACI 440.4R-04 (ACI
Corrosion Condition and Control Strategy conducted by Committee 440 2004) recommends strength reduction
the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the annual cost of corro- factors of 0.85 for CFRP and 0.70 for AFRP in tension-con-
sion in China was estimated at ¥2 trillion (approximately trolled sections, and 0.65 for both materials in compres-
$287 billion), among which the loss related to steel rein- sion-controlled sections. CSA/CAN S806-12 (2012),
forcements in concrete structures accounted for a consid- however, recommends a constant value of 0.85 for flexural
erable proportion (CAS 2014). Especially, highway bridge design of prestressed concrete beams with bonded CFRP
concrete structures are more susceptible to steel corrosion tendon, and 0.70 for the beams with bonded AFRP tendon.
because of their high level of exposure to environmental It should be noted that these recommended values are based
factors. According to the Report Card for America’s Infra- on engineering judgment, experience, and previous experi-
structure findings, nearly one-tenth of the 607,380 bridges mental results, rather than a rigorous reliability study (Burke
in the National Bridge Inventory were classified as struc- and Dolan 2001; Kim and Nickle 2016). Therefore, these
turally deficient (ASCE 2013). Of this total, 108,000 were recommended factors may fail to meet a uniform target level
built with prestressed concrete (NACE International 2012). of safety. Recently, several valuable reliability studies have
As a material with excellent corrosion resistance and a high been conducted to calibrate strength reduction factors for
strength-weight ratio, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) rein- flexural FRP prestressed concrete members (Kim and Nickle
forcement has emerged as a viable alternative to steel rein- 2016; Forouzannia et al. 2016). Kim and Nickle (2016)
forcement in prestressed concrete structures (Nanni and conducted a detailed reliability analysis of diverse types of
Tanigaki 1992). In addition, FRP reinforcements have char- benchmark bridges, and proposed reduction factors of 0.75
acteristics that include outstanding fatigue resistance, lower ACI Structural Journal, V. 116, No. 1, January 2019.
elastic modulus compared to steel, and a linear stress-strain MS No. S-2018-041.R1, doi: 10.14359/51710876, was received February 16,
2018, and reviewed under Institute publication policies. Copyright © 2019, American
relationship (Xue et al. 2018). Currently, two types of FRP Concrete Institute. All rights reserved, including the making of copies unless
reinforcements are mostly recommended for prestressed permission is obtained from the copyright proprietors. Pertinent discussion including
author’s closure, if any, will be published ten months from this journal’s date if the
discussion is received within four months of the paper’s print publication.

ACI Structural Journal/January 2019 251

and 0.80 for tension-controlled and compression-controlled
sections, respectively. Forouzannia et al. (2016) conducted
reliability analyses and concluded that the strength reduction
factors for compression-controlled and tension-controlled
sections were equal. From the aforementioned discussions,
it can be concluded that there is an obvious inconsistency in
the strength reduction factors for FRP prestressed concrete
flexural members. More research is still needed for develop-
ment of reliability-based flexural design provisions of FRP
prestressed concrete members.
Meanwhile, current design specifications and guidelines
recommend the use of different strength reduction factors
for tension- and compression-controlled beams with a
linear variation of the strength reduction factor in a transi- Fig. 1—Strength reduction factor as function of net tensile
tion region between the two. For FRP prestressed concrete, strain.
ACI 440.4R-04 (ACI Committee 440 2004), in accordance DESIGN SPACE
with ACI 318-14 (ACI Committee 318 2014) and AASHTO To ensure that the calibrated design provisions deliver
LRFD (AASHTO 2017), defines compression-controlled acceptable reliability levels over a wide range of design
and tension-controlled sections as those that have net tensile scenarios, a total of 48 benchmark bridges (24 AFRP
strain in the extreme tension reinforcement at nominal prestressed concrete bridges and 24 CFRP prestressed
strength less than or equal to the compression-controlled concrete bridges) with variable spans, girder types, and
strain limit of 0.002, and equal to or greater than 0.005, roadway widths were designed. Table 1 lists the layout of
respectively, as shown in Fig. 1. It should be mentioned that the designed girders. In this study, the standard HL-93 live
the strain limits were originally derived based on conven- load—which consists of a combination of the effects of a
tional Grade 60 steel bar and Grade 270 steel strand (Mast design truck, a design tandem, and a uniform lane load—
1992). For concrete beam with high-strength steel bars was loaded on the bridges to generate a maximum bending
or strands that have different stress-strain relationships, moment. The load effect was distributed as per AASHTO
however, available studies have shown that these strain LRFD distribution factors.
limits are not applicable (Mast et al. 2008; Park and Cho In this study, design configurations were selected as per
2017; AASHTO 2017). Because FRP is linear elastic to Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) standard
failure without yielding, the strain provision may be also not specifications and drawings. Three widely used girder types
applicable for FRP prestressed concrete members (Mast et al. were selected: I girders, box girders and U girders with a
2008). However, no available studies have been carried out spacing from 1.6 to 2.8 m (5.1 to 9.3 ft) and a structural depth
to evaluate the transition region between compression- and from 508 to 1575 mm (20 to 62 in.). Note that span length is
tension-controlled sections prestressed with FRP tendons. one of the most important parameters in design because the
In this study, a design space with various span lengths, maximum positive moment of a simply supported girder is
types of girder cross section, and flexural failure modes is proportional to the square of the length. In this study, the span
developed to conduct stochastic simulation. Then, the uncer- length varied from 12.2 to 41.4 m (40 to 135 ft) to achieve
tainty in the resistance model is evaluated based on a large expected flexural failure modes. Design practice indicated
experimental database and Monte-Carlo simulation. Subse- that for box girders the amount of tendons provided was
quently, the first-order second-moment (FOSM) method usually lower than the theoretical limit required to achieve a
is applied to calibrate strength reduction factors to meet balanced flexural failure. To induce compression-controlled
uniform target reliability level. A probabilistic analysis of failures, the span length of the girder with box sections
flexural failure modes is then conducted to determine a tran- may exceed the limit in TxDOT standard specifications.
sition region between tension- and compression-controlled Herein, a slab thickness of 177.8 mm (7 in.) was selected
sections. Finally, design provisions for flexural prestressed for I girders and U girders, and a slab thickness of 127.0 mm
members with bonded FRP tendons are proposed in the (5 in.) was selected for box girders. For all design scenarios,
AASHTO LRFD format. the compressive strength of the girders and slabs was taken
equal to 48.3 and 27.6 MPa (7 and 4 ksi), respectively. For
RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE every design scenario, the number of FRP tendons was
Currently, there is an inconsistency in the strength selected to provide a resistance that was greater than, but as
reduction factors for FRP prestressed concrete flexural close as possible to the demand.
members. Besides, a good definition of the transition region Table 2 shows the properties of CFRP and AFRP tendon
between  tension- and compression-controlled sections is used in the present study. A jacking stress of 0.65fpu and
not available. This paper will conduct a rigorous reliability 0.50fpu was selected for CFRP and AFRP tendon, respec-
analysis and provide design provisions for the flexural tively, in which fpu is the ultimate strength of FRP tendons.
strength of prestressed concrete bridge girders with bonded Prestress loss due to friction, initial elastic shortening, creep,
FRP tendons. and concrete creep and shrinkage was calculated according
to the AASHTO LRFD Specifications with a typical relative

252 ACI Structural Journal/January 2019

Table 1—Design space
ID TxDOT Section Span length, ft Roadway width, ft Failure mode MLL+IM /(MDC+ MDW) Mf, kip-ft
Tx28-T Tx28 40 32 TC *
1.61 1635
Tx28-C Tx28 65 32 CC †
1.17 3508
Tx34-T Tx34 50 32 TC 1.37 2339
Tx34-C Tx34 80 (70)‡ 32 CC 0.98 (1.09) 4897 (3972)
Tx40-T Tx40 60 32 TC 1.19 3144
Tx40-C Tx40 90 (80) 32 CC 0.88 (0.92) 5952 (5437)
Tx46-T Tx46 80 32 TC 0.92 5037
Tx46-C Tx46 100 (90) 32 CC 0.78 (0.84) 7190 (6073)
Tx54-T Tx54 80 32 TC 0.90 5095
Tx54-C Tx54 110 32 CC 0.72 8386
Tx62-T Tx62 80 32 TC 0.88 5134
Tx62-C Tx62 135 (125) 32 CC 0.59 (0.63) 12,007 (10,596)
B20-T B20 40 28 TC 1.43 855
B20-C B20 75 (70) 28 CC 0.89 (0.95) 2347 (2109)
B28-T B28 80 28 TC 0.79 2687
B28-C B28 120 (110) 28 CC 0.56 (0.60) 5153 (4471)
B34-T B34 60 28 TC 0.90 1782
B34-C B34 120 (110) 28 CC 0.51 (0.55) 5437 (4709)
B40-T B40 80 28 TC 0.65 2962
B40-C B40 130 (120) 28 CC 0.43 (0.46) 6606 (5772)
U40-T U40 50 32 TC 0.90 2186
U40-C U40 85 (75) 32 CC 0.60 (0.66) 5145 (4199)
U54-T U54 70 32 TC 0.66 3868
U54-C U54 110 (100) 32 CC 0.46 (0.49) 8146 (6945)

*TC is tension failure control.

CC is compression failure control.

Design case for bridge girder with AFRP tendon.
Notes: 1 ft = 0.3048 m; 1 kip-ft = 1.356 kN-m.

Table 2—Tensile properties of FRP tendons STATISTICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF DESIGN

Tendon Diameter, Elastic modulus, Ultimate tensile
type mm GPa strength, MPa Uncertainties in loads and resistances (material properties,
geometry, and imperfect modeling of resistance) influence
AFRP 9.5 65 1250
the probability of member failure. The variabilities of these
CFRP 12.7 140 1850 parameters can be captured through three statistical descrip-
Notes: 1 mm = 0.039 in.; 1 GPa = 145 ksi; 1 MPa = 145 psi. tors of the random variables: bias and coefficient of variation
(COV), as well as the type of distribution function. Bias is
humidity of 60%. In assessing friction loss, the curvature defined as the ratio of the mean value and nominal value,
friction coefficient of 0.4 was taken from ACI 440.4R-04. and COV is defined as the ratio of the standard deviation
Relaxation losses in FRP tendons result from three sources: and mean value. In the current study, the statistical descrip-
relaxation of polymer, straightening of fibers, and relaxation tors of the load, material properties, and geometry parame-
of fibers. According to ACI 440.4R-04, the total relaxation ters, among others, were obtained from existing literature,
losses were taken as 2% and 12% for CFRP and AFRP described in the following sub-sections, while the resis-
tendons, respectively. tance parameters were determined using data generated or
The moment demands at the critical section were calcu- collected, as a section in the following.
lated for the girders in the design space based on the load
model described in the following section, as given in Table 1. Description of load uncertainty
It was found that the live-to-dead ratios varied from 0.43 For reliability analysis purposes, AASHTO LRFD Spec-
to 1.61. These ranges provided the needed information for ification strength limit I load combination, which includes
the reliability study of the proposed provisions over a wide component dead load (DC), wearing surface load (DW),
range of design scenarios.

ACI Structural Journal/January 2019 253

Table 3—Random variable parameters
Parameter Distribution Bias COV Reference
Cast-in-place dead load (DC) Normal 1.05 0.10 Nowak (1999)
Wearing surface load (DW) Normal 1.00 0.25 Nowak (1999)
Live + impact load (LL+IM) Type I 1.20~1.26 *
0.18 Nowak (1999)
GDFs Normal 0.93 0.12 Nowak (1993)
Girder width Normal 1.01 0.04 Nowak (1999)
Girder height Normal 1.00 0.4/h Nowak (1999)
Slab thickness Normal 1.00 0.4/hs Nowak (1999)
Effective depth of girder Normal 1.00 0.025 Nowak (1993)
Area of FRP Normal 1.00 0.03 Shield et al. (2011)
Concrete strength Normal Eq. (2) 0.10 Nowak and Szerszen (2003)
Ultimate compressive concrete strain Lognormal 1.00 0.15 Baji and Ronagh (2016)
FRP strength Weibull 1.04 0.06 Kim and Nickle (2016)
FRP modulus Lognormal 1.04 0.06 Kim and Nickle (2016)
FRP relaxation Normal 1.00 0.30 JCSS (2002)
Relative humidity Normal 1.00 0.75 Vu and Stewart (2000)

*Depend on span length of girder.

and live load with impact (LL+IM), was applied for reli- and dynamic impact effect is between 19% and 20.5% for
ability analyses in this study. Accordingly, the total factored single-lane bridges. The corresponding values for two-lane
moment demand (Mf) for a single girder is bridges are 18% and 19%. In this study, a constant value of
18% was used for the COV of the live plus dynamic load.
M f = γ DC M DCn + γ DW M DWn + γ L M ( LL + IM )n (1) Field measurements indicate that the actual load distribution
is more uniform than what can be analytically predicted. For
where MDCn is nominal dead load moment caused by struc- GDFs based on AASHTO LRFD simplified methods, a bias
tural components and nonstructural attachments; MDWn is factor of 0.93 and a COV of 0.12 were suggested by Nowak
nominal dead load moment caused by wearing surfaces and (1993).
utilities; M(LL+IM)n is nominal moment caused by the live load
plus a dynamic allowance effect; and γDC, γDW, and γL are Description of material properties and geometry
load factor for dead (γDC = 1.25), wearing surface (γDW = uncertainty
1.5), and live load plus a dynamic allowance effect (γL = The statistical properties of concrete compressive strength fc′
1.75). are based on the model proposed by Nowak and Szerszen
It should be noted that various loads can exist in the load (2003). The normal distribution was used for representing the
combinations accounted for in AASHTO LRFD. In this probability distribution of concrete compressive strength. A
study, however, only the loads in Eq. (1) were considered COV of 10% was adopted for concrete compressive strength fc′,
to reduce complexity of the reliability analyses. Herein, and the bias factor λ fc' , was evaluated as follows
the dead load and wearing-surface moments were equally
assigned to the girders based on the tributary areas, whereas λ f ' = −2.47 × 10−5 ( f c' )3 + 3.17 × 10−3 ( f c' )2 − 1.35 × 10−1 f c' + 3.0649 ≥ 1.15

the live load and dynamic impact moments were distributed

(fc′ in MPa) (2)
as per AASHTO LRFD girder distribution factor (GDF).
According to AASHTO LRFD, the dynamic load effect was
The variation in the ultimate compressive strain in
taken as 33% of the design truck. The statistical properties
concrete, εcu, has a significant effect on the distinction of
of each of these load components have been well estab-
flexural failure mode (Baji and Ronagh 2016) and conse-
lished in the literature. Table 3 gives the selection of bias,
quently, the prediction of moment capacity for concrete
COV and type of distribution function for the dead and live
members with FRP reinforcements. However, available rele-
loads. The cast-in-place dead load (DC) can be modeled by
vant studies on FRP prestressed concrete members (Kim and
a normally distributed variable with a bias factor of 1.05 and
Nickle 2016; Forouzannia et al. 2016) treated εcu as deter-
a COV of 0.10 (Nowak 1999). The load due to the wearing
ministic in reliability analyses. In this study, the ultimate
surface (DW) can be also treated as a normally distributed
compressive strain of concrete, εcu, was treated as a random
variable with a bias factor of 1.00 and a COV of 0.25. Typi-
variable. Based on an extensive experimental database, Baji
cally, the live load plus a dynamic allowance effect (LL+IM)
and Ronagh (2016) found that the lognormal distribution
can be modeled by an extreme Type I distribution. The bias
was the best-fit probability density function for representing
factor on the live plus dynamic load depends on the span
the probabilistic distribution of εcu. The mean and COV of
length of the girder. Generally, the COV for the live load

254 ACI Structural Journal/January 2019

the ultimate concrete strain for the best-fit lognormal distri- Nominal moment resistance
bution were 0.0034 and 0.15, respectively. It has been recognized that the more accurate estimate of
The statistical characterization of prestressing CFRP and the true failure load provides an opportunity to reduce the
AFRP properties has been reported by several literature uncertainties reflected in the safety factors (Kotsovos 2014).
(Pilakoutas et al. 2002; Forouzannia et al. 2016; Kim and In principle, the calculation of flexural capacity should base on
Nickle 2016). Generally, the ultimate strength of FRP mate- strain compatibility, force equilibrium, and constitutive equa-
rial (fpu) can be modeled by Weibull distribution (Kim and tions. The nominal flexural capacity (Mn) of FRP prestressed
Nickle 2016). In this study, a bias factor of 1.04 and a COV concrete girder is determined by their failure mode: tension
of 0.06 were adopted for the ultimate strength of FRP (Kim failure or compression failure. For the tension-controlled
and Nickle 2016). The modulus of elasticity can be modeled section, the failure is initiated by rupture of FRP tendons
using lognormal distribution, with a bias factor of 1.04 and a before the concrete reaches its ultimate compressive strain. In
COV of 0.06. The prestress losses were also treated as random such a case, Whitney stress block cannot be used to determine
variables in this study. The statistical parameters of FRP relax- the strength of the section. In this study, the stress distribution
ation and relative humidity (H) are given in Table 3. in the concrete is approximated with an equivalent rectangular
Girder and slab dimensions, prestressing FRP eccen- stress block using two strain-dependent and stress-dependent
tricity, and FRP area were considered in the geometric parameters α and β. Then, the nominal flexural capacity (Mn)
uncertainty. All geometric dimensioning can be treated as can be calculated by Eq. (6)
normally distributed variables. The statistical parameters of
girder and slab height were presented by Nowak (1999). The m  βc   βc h f 
bias factor and COV of girder depth and slab height were M n = ∑ Ap ,i f p ,i  di −  + αf c′(b − bw ) h f  −  (6)
i =1  2  2 2
reported as 1.00 and 0.4/height (where height is in inches;
1 in. = 25.4 mm), respectively. For statistical properties of
where Ap,i is area of FRP tendons at layer i; fp,i is stress in
the cross-sectional area of the FRP tendon, a bias factor of
the FRP at layer i, which is equal to the guaranteed strength
1.00 and a COV of 0.03 were used (Shield et al. 2011). Table
of FRP for i = 1; di is depth of the FRP tendon at layer i;
3 gives the selection of bias, COV and type of distribution
bw is width of web (width of a rectangular cross section); b
function for geometric dimensioning.
is width of compression face of member; hf is depth of the
flange in T-section; and c is neutral axis depth. Note that an
iteration is required to determine the neutral axis depth c and
Three sources of uncertainty affect the variability of
the parameter α and β.
resistance; namely, material variability M, variability in
For compression-controlled section, the failure of the
fabrication tolerances F, and analysis factor P. All the three
member is initiated by crushing of the concrete and the stress
sources were treated as random variables in this study. The
distribution in the concrete can be approximated by Whit-
random variable, MR, for the resistance can be considered as
ney’s rectangular stress block. The nominal flexural capacity
a product of the nominal resistance Mn used in design and
(Mn) can be calculated by Eq. (7)
three parameters that account for some of the sources of
uncertainty mentioned earlier. Mathematically, this model of
m  β c  β c hf 
resistance is of the form (Nowak and Collins 2012) M n = ∑ Ap ,i f p ,i  di − 1  + 0.85 f c′(b − bw ) h f  1 − 
i =1  2   2 2
MR = Mn ∙ ψM ∙ ψF ∙ ψP (3) (7)
where Mn is nominal resistance; ψM is material factor where β1 is rectangular stress block parameter.
reflecting variation in the strength and modulus of elasticity It should be noted that if the term of βc in Eq. (6) or β1c in
of the material; ψF is fabrication factor, which includes Eq. (7) is less than the depth of the flange hf, the section can
element geometry, nominal dimension, and section proper- be treated as a rectangular section with a width of b.
ties; and ψP is analysis factor (also known as professional
factor) indicating approximations due to analysis methods Statistical parameters of professional factor
and idealized stress or strain models, such as use of equiva- Commonly, the uncertainty in an analytical model can
lent stress block in concrete. Bias factors and COVs can be be obtained from comparisons of physical tests and model
associated with each of the analysis, fabrication, and mate- results. The bias of the analysis factor (or professional
rial factors. For simplify, the global bias factor λR and COV factor) can be taken as the mean of the strength ratio Mexp/Mn
VR of the girder system can be expressed as (MacGregor et al. 1983), where Mexp is experimental flex-
ural capacity. The COV of the professional factor, however,
λR = λMF ∙ λP (4) actual structure-specific conditions need to be taken into
account (MacGregor et al. 1983; Holický et al. 2016). In
VR = VMF + VP2 (5) accordance with MacGregor et al. (1983), the variability of
the professional factor is then
where λMF and VMF are bias and COV of the combined mate-
rial and fabrication, respectively; and λP and VP are bias and 2
VP = Vobse 2
− Vtest 2
− Vspec (8)
COV of ψP, respectively.

ACI Structural Journal/January 2019 255

Table 4—Resistant parameters
Factors Tension failure Compression failure
λp 1.030 1.030
Vp 0.101 0.110
λFM 1.034 1.108
VFM 0.088 0.094
λR 1.065 1.140
VR 0.135 0.145

the professional factor. All material reduction and safety

factors in determining the flexural capacity were set to unity.
It was found that there was negligible difference between
AFRP prestressed sections and CFRP prestressed beams
with respect to the bias and COV for the professional factor
ψP. Figures 2(a) and (b) compare the experimental moment
to the predicted moment for beams failed due to rupture of
FRP and crushing of concrete, respectively. Table 4 lists
the obtained model bias λP and COV VP for tension- and
compression-controlled sections.

Statistical parameters of material and fabrication

After establishing the statistical characteristics for indi-
vidual random variables, the uncertainty in resistance due to
material and fabrication tolerance, ψMF, was assessed collec-
tively using the Monte Carlo simulations in MATLAB.
The number of trials in each Monte Carlo simulation was
selected based on a convergence study. Figure 3 shows an
example plot of the changes in the computed bias factor
Fig. 2—Experimental versus predicted moment: (a) tensile λMF with the number of trials, indicating that the number of
failure; and (b) compressive failure. 100,000 simulations is sufficient. Table 4 lists the material
and fabrication factors obtained. It was found that the bias
where VP is COV of the professional factor; Vobse is COV as factor and COV of MF for compression-controlled sections
derived from comparison of model and test results, affected (λMF = 1.108, and VMF = 0.094) was higher than those of
by dispersion due to imprecision of a test method and the tension-controlled sections (λMF = 1.035, and VMF = 0.088).
model; Vtest represents the uncertainties in the measured These observations are justified by the fact that the moment
loads due to such things as the accuracies of the gauges, capacity of compression-controlled sections is governed by
errors in readings, definitions of failure; and Vspec represents the compressive strength of concrete, whereas the moment
errors introduced by such things as differences between capacity of tension-controlled sections is a function of the
the strengths in the test specimen and in control cylinders, tensile strength of FRP.
and variations in actual specimen dimensions from those
measured. MacGregor et al. (1983) suggested that the value Resistance parameter
of Vtest and Vspec were equal to 0.02 and 0.04, respectively. Once the statistical parameters for P and MF for FRP
Obviously, the model uncertainty should be always asso- prestressed concrete bridge girders are obtained, the resis-
ciated with a particular model under consideration. Because tance parameters served as a basis for the selection of
the theoretical model for tension-controlled sections differs strength reduction factors can be determined in accordance
from that for compression-controlled sections, the effect of with Eq. (4) and (5), as shown in Table 4. Note that the resis-
flexural failure modes should be considered in qualification tance parameters considered for FRP prestressed concrete
of the model uncertainty. In previous studies, the quantifica- girders (VR = 0.135 for tensile failure, and VR = 0.145 for
tion of the model uncertainty for FRP prestressed concrete compression failure) have greater variability than that used
beams was directly determined from a limited database of for steel prestressed concrete girders (VR = 0.075) (Barker
no more than 30 test specimens (Forouzannia et al. 2016; and Puckett 2013).
Kim and Nickle 2016). Consequently, the obtained statis-
tical parameters of analytical models may lessen the reli- RELIABILITY ANALYSIS PROCEDURE
ability of the beams. In this study, an experimental database Reliability of structural members can be expressed in
of 112 FRP prestressed concrete beams collected by Xue terms of limit state function, Z
et al. (2017) from available literature was used to evaluate

256 ACI Structural Journal/January 2019

Z = MR – MQ (9)

where MR represents flexural resistance (capacity) and MQ

represents load effect (demand). If Z = 0, the structure is
safe; otherwise, the structure fails. The probability of failure
Pf is equal to the probability that the undesired performance
will occur and it can be expressed as

Pf = P ( Z ≤ 0) = ∫0 FR ( q ) f Q ( q ) dq = Φ ( −β)


where Φ(∙) is standard normal cumulative distribution func-

tion; β is reliability index; FR(∙) is cumulative distribution
function of the resistance; and fQ(∙) is probability density
function of the load effect.
Fig. 3—Plot of convergence of Monte Carlo results as func-
Calibrated procedure tion of number of trials.
The definition of safety can be expressed in terms of failure
Mn = (γDCMDCn + γDWMDWn + γLM(LL+IM)n)/ (12)
probability, or reliability index. The reliability index, β, which
represents the risk level of any design component, can be
5. Determine the statistical parameters of the resistance:
calculated using various methods. In many cases, the limit
the bias factor λR and COV VR.
state function can be simplified into two random variables
6. Calculate the reliability index β using Eq. (11).
representing the structural resistance, MR, and the collective
7. Select  that minimizes (β – βT )2.
load effects, MQ. A lognormal distribution can be assumed
for the probability distribution of the resistance which can be
Analysis results
modeled as the product of a number of underlying indepen-
The strength reduction factors derived from previous cali-
dent random variables (Ghosn et al. 2016). If a normal distri-
bration procedure are provided in Table 5. It was found that
bution is assumed for the load effects, MQ, one can calculate
the strength reduction factors of the compression-controlled
the reliability index using an approximate formula for the reli-
girders were higher than those of their tension-controlled
ability index, β, which is given as (Nowak 1999)
counterparts in all cases. This unique trend, which cannot

be found in conventional steel reinforced and prestressed
M n λ R (1 − kVR ) 1 − ln (1 − kVR ) − M Q concrete girders, was also reported in available literature
β= (11) (Zadeh and Nanni 2013; Kim and Nickle 2016). Besides,
( )
 M n λ RVR (1 − kVR ) + σ Q
2 2
the strength reduction factors of AFRP prestressed sections
are slightly lower than those of CFRP prestressed sections.
where M Q and σQ are mean value and standard deviation of Most codes and guidelines recommend that the strength
MQ, respectively; and k measures the shift of the design point reduction factors are rounded down to the nearest 0.05. As
from the mean value and is typically taken equal to 2.0. shown in Table 5, it was concluded that strength reduction
The purpose of calibrating the strength reduction factors factors equal to 0.80 and 0.85 for tension- and compres-
is to achieve the target reliability, βT. In general, target reli- sion-controlled girders were appropriate for target reliabilities
ability levels for members are set based on experience with of 3.5, respectively. Note that the proposed strength reduction
the performance of existing structures, the consequences of factors for tension-controlled sections with FRP are much less
member failures, and the cost of construction (Ghosn et al. than those for tension-controlled sections with steel needed
2016). For an anticipated 75-year design life structure, the to produce the same target reliability index of 3.5. This
target reliability index adopted by AASHTO LRFD Speci- discrepancy in strength reduction factors is a direct result of
fication is 3.5 (failure probability = 2.33 × 10–4) for flexural the different mechanical properties and uncertainty inherent
concrete members. To meet this target reliability level, an in FRP reinforcements as opposed to steel reinforcements
iterative procedure was used to calibrate the strength reduc- (Behnam and Eamon 2013). In this study, there are three
tion factors in this study. This reliability analysis procedure major differences in variability; that is, ultimate compressive
used in this calibration is based on the FOSM method, which strain of concrete εcu, mechanical properties of FRP tendon,
includes the following steps: and analytical prediction of moment capacity. Generally, the
1. Determine the input data: Each characteristic of design variation in εcu is taken as deterministic in reliability analysis
parameters is assigned a statistical distribution according to of steel prestressed concrete members (Nowak 1999). For
existing literature. Load factors are taken from the AASHTO FRP prestressed concrete girders, however, variation in εcu has
LRFD Specifications. a significant effect on the flexural failure modes and conse-
2. Calculate the statistical parameters of the total load: the quently the moment capacity (Xue et al. 2016). Similarly, as
mean total load M Q and COV VQ. variations in reinforcement elastic modulus generally do not
3. A trial strength reduction factor  is selected between affect the capacity calculation of steel prestressed sections,
0.5 and 1.0 at an interval of 0.01. these uncertainties do affect the moment capacity of FRP
4. Calculate the nominal moment resistance

ACI Structural Journal/January 2019 257

Table 5—Calibrated strength reduction factors
ID ρ/ρb T ρ/ρb T ID ρ/ρb C ρ/ρb C
Tx28-T 0.69 0.81 0.43 0.83 Tx28-C 3.30 0.85 1.36 0.86
Tx34-T 0.67 0.82 0.49 0.82 Tx34-C 1.36 0.84 1.90 0.87
Tx40-T 0.62 0.81 0.54 0.82 Tx40-C 1.83 0.85 1.59 0.87
Tx46-T 0.90 0.84 0.77 0.84 Tx46-C 2.05 0.87 1.54 0.87
Tx54-T 0.72 0.83 0.61 0.82 Tx54-C 2.06 0.86 1.16 0.85
Tx62-T 0.51 0.82 0.43 0.82 Tx62-C 1.39 0.85 1.35 0.86
B20-T 0.76 0.82 0.32 0.81 B20-C 2.10 0.86 1.17 0.85
B28-T 0.92 0.83 0.50 0.83 B28-C 1.18 0.84 1.28 0.85
B34-T 0.48 0.80 0.31 0.83 B34-C 1.44 0.85 1.26 0.87
B40-T 0.59 0.82 0.42 0.81 B40-C 1.11 0.84 1.10 0.85
U40-T 0.70 0.83 0.46 0.82 U40-C 1.96 0.86 1.63 0.87
U54-T 0.68 0.82 0.52 0.82 U54-C 1.91 0.86 1.56 0.87
Design T = 0.80 Design C = 0.85

Notes: T is strength reduction factor for tensile failure; C is strength reduction factor for compression failure; ρ is reinforcement ratio; and ρb is balanced reinforcement ratio.

prestressed concrete sections. Finally, the professional factor P compression-controlled strain limit of 0.002, and equal to
considered for tension-controlled section with FRP tendons (VP or greater than 0.005, respectively. It should be mentioned
= 0.101) has a greater variability than the professional factor P that the net tensile strain limits were originally proposed to
used for that with steel strands (VP = 0.06) (Nowak and Collins achieve sufficient ductility and give adequate warning prior
2012). Note that these changes in the statistical parameters serve to failure for flexural members with conventional Grade 60
to lessen the reliability of FRP prestressed concrete sections. steel bars or Grade 270 steel strands (Mast 1992). Because
FRP reinforcements are linear elastic to failure without
DESIGN PROVISIONS yielding, this design philosophy is not necessarily applicable
As discussed previously, the strength reduction factors to concrete beams with FRP reinforcements. In addition, the
of FRP prestressed concrete girders depend on the flex- cumbersome procedure of calculating the balanced rein-
ural failure modes. In design practice, both tension- and forcement ratio is unavoidable in the design practice of FRP
compression- controlled sections are accepted. In this prestressed concrete members (ACI Committee 440 2004).
section, the transition region between tension- and compres- Therefore, balanced reinforcement provision was proposed
sion- controlled sections was proposed in terms of ratio of for FRP prestressed concrete members in this study.
provided-to-balanced reinforcement based on a probabilistic It is noteworthy that it is impossible to use the actual mate-
analysis of flexural failure modes. On this basis, strength rial properties, dimensions, and ultimate strain of concrete
reduction factors were then recommended as a function of to determine the flexural failure mode in design process.
ratio of provided-to-balanced reinforcement. Instead, nominal values are used and the ultimate compres-
sive strain of concrete is assumed as 0.003 according to ACI
Boundary of transition region 440.4R. The decompression strain and the strain resulting
In the 1999 and earlier editions of the ACI 318 Code, the from sustained loads are generally negligible. Therefore,
maximum reinforcement limit for flexural members was these two strain values are usually assumed zero (ACI
stated in terms of the ratio of provided-to-balanced reinforce- Committee 440 2004; Grace and Singh 2003). Based on
ment (ρ/ρb). Currently, ACI 440.1R-15 (ACI Committee 440 force equilibrium and strain compatibility in conformance
2015) also uses the ratio of provided-to-balanced reinforce- with the ACI 440.4R methodology, the balanced failure
ment (ρ/ρb) to definite the transition region for FRP rein- condition could be expressed as
forced concrete flexural members. The balanced reinforce-
ment provisions are easily applied to rectangular sections.  0.85β f '  ε cu (b − bw ) h f 
 for β1cb > h f
1 c
The provisions, however, are more cumbersome for flanged   +
 f pu  ε pu − ε pe + ε cu β1bw d p 
and other nonrectangular sections (Mast 1992). Hence, since ρb = 
the 2002 edition, ACI code has used the net tensile strain  0.85β1 f c'  ε cu 
for β1cb ≤ h f
in the extreme tension reinforcement to definite the tension- 
 f pu  ε pu − ε pe + ε cu 
and compression-controlled sections. Currently, ACI
318-14, AASHTO LRFD, as well as ACI 440.4R-04 define (13)
compression-controlled and tension-controlled sections
as those that have net tensile strain in the extreme tension where εpe and εpu are effective prestressing strain and ultimate
reinforcements at nominal strength less than or equal to the tensile strain in FRP tendon, respectively; dp is distance from

258 ACI Structural Journal/January 2019

extreme compression fiber to centroid of tension tendon; and
cb is neutral axis depth at balanced failure condition, which
can be calculated by Eq. (14)

ε cu
cb = d p (14)
ε pu − ε pe + ε cu

Due to uncertainties in the design variables (material char-

acteristics, geometry, and assumptions in analysis), the actual
flexural failure mode may not coincide with the predicted
one at the design stage (Xue et al. 2016). That is, there is a
transition region where compression failure mode and tension
failure mode are possible. To determine the transition region,
the Monte Carlo simulation technique was used in this study.
The statistical information of material properties and geome- Fig. 4—Probability of tension failure.
tries used here were described previously (Table 3).
Using the Monte Carlo technique, the simulating FRP
reinforcement ratio ρsimu and corresponding balanced rein-
forcement ratio ρb,simu can be calculated. Having the simu-
lated results for the response variables, ρsimu and ρb,simu, it
was then possible to calculate the probability of tension
failure. A sample size of 100,000 was found appropriate
for the simulation based on a sensitive analysis. According
to Eq. (13), if ρsimu/ρb,simu is less than 1.0, tension failure
is deemed to occur. Figure 4 shows the calculated proba-
bility of tension failure as a function of the ratio of provid-
ed-to-balanced reinforcement (ρ/ρb). As observed, when ρ =
1.5ρb, the probability of tension failure Pf is 5.2%. When ρ
= 0.8ρb, the probability of tension failure Pf is 95.3%. If the Fig. 5—Variation of strength reduction factor with rein-
acceptable probability of the actual failure mode differing forcement ratio.
from the predicted one is 5%, the transition region can be
set as 0.8ρb < ρ ≤ 1.5ρb. Note that compression failure is tions, was considered. Monte Carlo Simulation in conjunc-
the preferred failure mechanism because it is more progres- tion with the first-order second-moment method was then
sive and less catastrophic (Grace et al. 2013). Besides, the  used to calibrate the strength reduction factors. Finally, the
factor of the tension-controlled section is smaller than that transition region between tension- and compression-con-
of compression-controlled sections. In the design practice, trolled sections was evaluated. On the basis of the results,
therefore, the transition region can be taken as ρb < ρ ≤ 1.5ρb. the following conclusions can be drawn:
It is interesting to note that the suggested upper limit for the 1. The statistical parameters of resistance were determined
transition region is in accordance with the limit for FRP rein- for flexural capacity of FRP prestressed concrete bridge
forced concrete beams suggested by Xue et al. (2016). girders based on Monte Carlo simulation and a large exper-
imental database. The bias factors and COVs of flexural
Recommended strength reduction factors resistance obtained are listed in Table 4.
Based on the reliability analysis and probability analysis 2. A probability analysis of flexural failure mode was
of flexural failure modes, it was recommended that strength conducted to determine a transition region between compres-
reduction factors of 0.80 and 0.85 were proposed for tension- sion and tension-controlled sections in terms of ratio of
and compression-controlled prestressed concrete girders to provided-to-balanced reinforcement. It was proposed that
achieve the target reliabilities of 3.5, respectively. In this the tension-controlled and compression-controlled sections
study, tension- and compression-controlled sections are were defined as those that have FRP reinforcement ratio less
defined as those that have FRP reinforcement ratio less than than or equal to the balanced reinforcement ratio ρb, and
or equal to the balanced reinforcement ratio ρb, and greater greater than 1.5ρb, respectively.
than 1.5ρb, respectively. As shown in Fig. 5, sections having 3. To achieve a target reliability of 3.5 in design of bridge
FRP reinforcement ratio between these limits are designed girders, this study recommended strength reduction factors
with an intermediate  factor. of 0.80 for tension-controlled section, 0.85 for compres-
sion-controlled section, and a linear variation in the transi-
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS tion region between the two, as shown in Fig. 5.
In this research, the flexural strength reduction factors in 4. This study focused on the concrete bridge girders exclu-
AASHTO LRFD Specifications were calibrated for bridge sively prestressed with bonded FRP tendons. Future research
girders prestressed with FRP tendons. An extensive design on the subject may focus on the effect of bond condition of
space, which included various common design configura- FRP tendon and the effect of nonprestressed reinforcement.

ACI Structural Journal/January 2019 259

AUTHOR BIOS Polymer Reinforcement,” ACI Structural Journal, V. 110, No. 3, May-June,
Fei Peng is a PhD Candidate in the Key Laboratory of Performance Evolu- pp. 491-501.
tion and Control for Engineering Structures of the Ministry of Education at Holický, M.; Retief, J. V.; and Sýkora, M., 2016, “Assessment
Tongji University, and PhD Candidate in the Department of Structural Engi- of Model Uncertainties for Structural Resistance,” Probabilistic
neering at Tongji University, Shanghai, China. His research interests include Engineering Mechanics, V. 45, July, pp. 188-197. doi: 10.1016/j.
analysis and design of concrete structures reinforced with fiber-reinforced probengmech.2015.09.008
polymers. JCSS, 2002, “JCSS Probabilistic Model Code: Part 3, Resistance
Models,” Joint Committee on Structural Safety, Technical University of
Weichen Xue is a Professor in the Key Laboratory of Performance Evolu- Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, 41 pp.
tion and Control for Engineering Structures of the Ministry of Education Kim, Y. J., and Nickle, R. W., 2016, “Strength Reduction Factors for
at Tongji University, and Professor in the Department of Structural Engi- Fiber-Reinforced Polymer-Prestressed Concrete Bridges in Flexure,”
neering at Tongji University. He received his BS from Harbin Engineering ACI Structural Journal, V. 113, No. 5, Sept.-Oct., pp. 1043-1052. doi:
University, Harbin, China, in 1990; his MS from Harbin Institute of Tech- 10.14359/51689028
nology, Harbin, China, in 1992; and his PhD from Southeast University, Kotsovos, M. D., 2014, Compressive Force-Path Method Unified Ultimate
Nanjing, China, in 1995. His research interests include precast, prestressed Limit-State Design of Concrete Structures, Springer, New York, 221 pp.
concrete structures, and fiber-reinforced polymer composites. MacGregor, J. G.; Mirza, S. A.; and Ellingwood, B., 1983, “Statistical
Analysis of Resistance of Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete Members,”
ACI Journal Proceedings, V. 80, No. 3, May-June, pp. 167-176.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Mast, R. F., 1992, “Unified Design Provisions for Reinforced and
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by Prestressed Concrete Flexural and Compression Members,” ACI Structural
the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2017YFC0703000), Natural Journal, V. 89, No. 2, Mar.-Apr., pp. 185-199.
Science Foundation of China (No. 51678433), Fundamental Research Mast, R. F.; Dawood, M.; Rizkalla, S. H.; and Zia, P., 2008, “Flexural
Funds for the Central Universities (No. 0200219151) and Project of Strength Design of Concrete Beams Reinforced with High-Strength Steel
Shanghai Science Technology Commission (No. 16XD1402800). Bars,” ACI Structural Journal, V. 105, No. 4, July-Aug., pp. 570-577.
NACE International, 2012, “Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies
in the United States,” Publication No. FHWA-RD-01-156, National Associ-
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