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INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION

28-29 Septermber 2011

A Clear and Present Danger 2 -


The use of QT or TMT Rebars
in Seismic Zone 4

Emilio M. Morales MSCE, F.PICE, F.ASCE, F.ASEP


INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

1.0 Introduction

The Construction Industry and Developers are faced with problems


involving material selection. But nowhere has this been more acute
than in the use of reinforcing bars that do not meet Design and
Service demands in Seismic Zone 4 particularly as it applies to cyclic
loading under seismic excitation.

The problems particularly are related to the use of Quench Tempered


(QT) or Thermomechanically Treated Rebars (TMT) and accentuated
by the noticeable artificial absence of the commonly used and
previously available Microalloy (MA) rebars.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

 Quench Tempered (QT) or Thermomechanically


Treated (TMT) rebars have crept into the market
replacing the Microalloyed (MA) steels almost
completely without the knowledge of the Design
Engineering Community as well as the end user..

 The Manufacturers of QT/TMT rebars have stated


that since these rebars have comparable Physical
Test Performance when subjected to
CONVENTIONAL Tension and bend tests, then “ it
could be a viable and safe replacement to MA rebars
without qualification”.

 THIS IS A VERY MISLEADING AND DANGEROUS


STATEMENT
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

PERFORMANCE UNDER CYCLIC LOADING

The premature and relatively localized and very limited yield zones of
QT/TMT rebars under repeated Cyclic Loadings would result in
Damage to the stronger outer skin, and spalling of the concrete cover
in Reinforced Concrete columns and failure of the affected rebars by
premature buckling. 1]
Various studies and research in Italy, New Zealand and elsewhere
have pointed to the Dangers posed by these rebars when used in
Seismic Zone 4.

This presentation is aimed at alerting the Engineering


Community and Developers, to the uninformed use of QT/TMT
rebars in order to reduce the dangers posed by such usage.
______________
1] Macchi G. “Ductility Requirements for Reinforcement under Eurocodes.” Structural Engineering
International April 1996
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

QT/TMT MICRO STRUCTURE UNDER ELECTRON MICROSCOPE


Definitions
Quench Tempered Rebars- The QT or TMT bar is
manufactured by rapid cooling of a plain low Carbon steel by a
water spray. The quenched surface is tempered by the heat of
the MARTENSITE
red hot core. This results
BAINITEin a layered steel rebar section with
FERRITE/PEARLITE
a heat treated outer skin (high tensile strength of tempered
martensite, bainite and a ferrite pearlite core with slow cooling
inner core. The end result is a composite steel bar with a higher
Tensile strength than the parent material to start with.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

The Quench Tempering Process


Quench Tempered Rebars- The QT
or TMT bar is manufactured by Heat Treatment
rapid cooling of a plain low Carbon
steel by a water spray. The
quenched surface is tempered by
the heat of the red hot core. This
results in a layered steel rebar
section with a heat treated outer
skin (high tensile strength of
tempered martensite, bainite and a
ferrite pearlite core with slow
cooling inner core. The end result is
a composite steel bar with a higher
Tensile strength than the parent Water Quenching
material to start with

Inner Core Tempers Outer Layer


What the Engineering Profession Is Doing to Ensure the
RESTRICTIONS on the use of QT/TMT Rebars is recognized
by the Design Engineers and The Public

 The Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines ASEP, has


included in the NSCP 2015 the RESTRICTIONS on the use of
QT/TMT rebars.
 It had Dialogued with the steel industry through PISI to warn of
the Dangers of the use of QT/TMT rebars to no avail.
 It continues to be doing active participation in TC 11 of the BPS in
order that the QT/TMT rebar RESTRICTIONS are also
INCORPORATED in the PNS 49 Standard, but up to now has not
been accepted by the majority.
 It has actively sought for dialogue with various groups and the
media, including the Consumer’s Union of the Philippines to
highlight the Dangers of the uninformed use of QT/TMT Rebars.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

The NSCP 2015


Contains the very
important provisions
on the
PROHIBITIONS on
the use of QT/TMT
Rebars.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

THE FOREGOING RESTRICTIONS WERE


QUOTED VERBATIM FROM THE NEW
ZEALAND STANDARD 420.7.6.1 OF THE
NZS 3101 5.3.2.1 AND INCORPORATED IN
THE NSCP 2015
What the ASEP NSCP 2015
Restrictions Really Mean
 Directly taken from the ANZ Standards 3101,
the prohibition on the use of QT/TMT rebars is
explicit when the rebars are Welded, Threaded,
Bent or Galvanized.
 If these are done during construction, then
definitely you cannot use QT/TMT rebars.
 It has warned the Design Engineers on the
Possible Premature Failure of QT rebars under
Cyclic Loading .
 The Big Questions now are:
◦ Can Normal Construction Operations avoid this kind of Damage?
◦ If Not, where can you still use QT/TMT Rebars ?
What tests or Proof Support the Position that QT/TMT
Rebars cannot really be used for Seismic Zone 4
NZ Standard
3101:2006
Concrete Structures
Part 1
Section 5.3.2.2

“Restrictions on in-line
quenched and tempered
process shall not be used where
welding, hot bending, or
threading of bars occurs.”
“It is important to note that any
process involving heat e.g.
Welding, galvanizing and hot
bending can adversely affect the
mechanical properties of quench
and tempered reinforcing bars
by modification of the
microstructure.
What Evidences support the Need
to Avoid the use of Rebars in High
Rises and Critical Infrastructures in
Seismic Zone 4 ?
What tests or Proof Support the Position that QT/TMT
Rebars cannot really be used for Seismic Zone 4
CYCLIC RESISTANCE OF QT /TMT REBARS
In a study by Macchi [Ref 1] a large RC specimen
was subjected to cyclic loading to check the
ductility of Traditional Steel and TMT rebars
conforming to Eurocode EC 8 Seismic detailing.
Quote the experimental results as follows:

“With only one exception, all steel A8 (referring to


TMT rebars) specimens failed when tested according
to sequences….. In fact, all steel A8 reinforcing bars
failed before the end of the Test. In many cases, they
failed during the first cycle at the maximum
required displacement ”

“On the contrary, specimens built with steel Fe


(referring to Standard steel rebars) behaved
satisfactorily.”
1] Macchi G. “Ductility Requirements for Reinforcement under
Eurocodes.” Structural Engineering International April 1996
Recent Tests 1] on the Effect of Damaging or Removal of the Outer
Skin of QT/TMT rebars

Removal of the Outer Skin Grossly affected the Maximum Strain Compared to an Undamaged Rebar.
1] Lourenco, Pedro Joao-”Study of Steel Bars for use in Reinforced Concrete produced by the
Tempcore Process” Oct 2012 Portugal
What tests or Proof Support the Position that QT/TMT
Rebars cannot really be used for Seismic Zone 4

1] Lourenco, Pedro Joao-”Study of Steel Bars for use in Reinforced


Concrete produced by the Tempcore Process” Oct 2012 Portugal
What tests or Proof Support the Position that QT/TMT
Rebars cannot really be used for Seismic Zone 4

The Results of the MIRDC Study


Commissioned by PISI
What tests or Proof Support the Position that QT/TMT
Rebars cannot really be used for Seismic Zone 4

COMPARISON of MA and QT REBARS

MA QT

Possible - following the correct Not Possible without losing


Rebending
preheating process strength

Possible - following the correct Not Possible without losing


Welding
procedure strength

Loss of strength dis-


Loss of strength proportional
Threading proportionate to loss of cross
to loss of cross sectional area
sectional area

Jitendra K Bothara “Comparing Seismic® QT and Seismic® MA High Strength Bars and Design Considerations”
What Proof of Tests or Studies
Can the QT/TMT
Manufacturers Offer to
Disprove, refute or challenge
the Published Potential
Endangerment that their
Product Can cause in Seismic
Zone 4 ?
0!
 What Proof of Tests or Studies Can
the present Board of ASEP show to
prove that the Product can be
“USED IN ALL BUILDINGS
INCLUDING HIGHRISES”
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

Why have MA Rebars Dissappeared in the Market?

Microalloyed (MA) rebars began disappearing in the market when


manufacturers changed to QT/TMT rebars without Notifying the
Public and most specially the Engineering profession.

In the dialogue with steel Industry representatives PISI and ASEP


with BRS, DPWH, the representatives claimed that Microalloyed
(MA) rebars are more expensive to produce because the alloys
are expensive and the QT/TMT rebars are the equivalent of MA
rebars. Thus, in the blink of an eye, the public and the engineering
design profession were deprived of a “healthy” choice which will
not cause endangerment to structures.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

PROBLEMS WITH THE USE


OF QT/TMT REBARS IN
CONSTRUCTION
What is the Response of the QT Rebar
Manufacturers Regarding Issues Raised on QT
Rebars?
 The QT Rebar manufacturers including PISI
have kept silent on the Critical issues Raised
regarding the Problems associated with QT
Rebars.
 When the NSCP 2015 was published, they
never even tried to Counter the issues and
prohibitions.
 The Paper alerting to the Dangers of the use
of QT TMT rebars was never refuted in print.
 In the issue of the Manila times, on the subject Matter,
the responses were made NOT to address the Critical
Issues but to deflect these, such as:
◦ “This rebar has been tested in MM in the 1990 Luzon
Earthquake when in fact the Epicenter was in Rizal,
Nueva Ecija and affected mostly Northern Luzon.”
◦ “That they are ISO Certified”
◦ “That ASEP engineers have been using this for a long
Time”—Yes. but there was no Formal Notice that MA
rebars were replaced by QT/TMT rebars.
◦ That the QT Rebars passed the PNS 49 Static Testing
Protocol !- Misleading since this will not test the
vulnerability under Cyclic loading.
◦ “That the Problem is the proliferation of undersized
bars!”
 All the answers in Print did not in any way
counter, rebut or Deny the issues raised
in the NSCP 2015 nor in the published
Papers by the Presentor.
What was their Position
 “ Further testing would be needed under
simulated Earthquake Loading”
 However, this has been the QT Manufacturer’s
line since more than 10 years ago but nothing
has been done. The author even suggested in
the TC 11 meeting, that the QT manufacturers
who are earning billions selling these contested
rebars, should pool together and Donate a
Large Scale cyclic Load Testing machine to UP
to settle this issue once and for all– Again
SILENCE
First DTI Dialogue of April 30 2018
 In this meeting, Presided by DTI, the QT rebar Manufacturers were
directly asked to formally Answer and Refute the issues Raised on
the Suitability of QT/TMT rebars for critical structures.
 Nobody among PISI and the QT Rebar manufacturers
representatives responded, and only the Deafening sound of silence
could be Heard.

 It is about time for these QT Manufacturers to formally


make a statement in writing to assure DTI and the public
in general that their Products are SAFE and can perform
under repeated cyclic loading and also when subjected to
Normal Philippine Construction Practices, without
premature failure, supported by Appropriate tests.
Problems in the Use of QT/TMT in Seismic Areas
 The composite structure of the QT/TMT rebars consisting of a
very thin outer but relatively stronger skin and a lower strength
inner core gives the QT/TMT a higher Composite strength under
static Loading. However, when subjected to repeated Cyclic
loading , say, during an Earthquake, Premature yielding can occur.
 The Strong but Brittle Outer skin, is the weak link because
damage can occur during Normal Construction procedures:
◦ Welding for Jointing
◦ Threading for joining with Mechanical Couplers- A QT bar gains its strength from
the hard quenched outer casing so cutting a thread into this outer casing will
mean that the loss in strength is not proportional to the amount of steel which is
removed.
◦ Cold or Hot Bending and Heating beyond 450 Deg C.- The brittle thin outer skin
can be damaged by bending or distempered when heated reverting to an
ordinary lower strength steel.
◦ Galvanizing > 300 Deg C- Normal temperatures used in Galvanizing can affect
the heat treatment and revert the rebar to a lower strength.
◦ Corrosion attack in Infrastructures exposed to adverse environments such as
piers, bridges, elevated skyways etc. can remove the outer stronger skin , reducing
the load capacity of the Rebar.
The Damage induced by this common Construction procedures
in rebar installation could result in reduction in the overall rebar
strength and worse, this could lead to premature failure of the
brittle skin under repeated Seismic Loading.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

WELDING
C8.5.2 New Zealand Standards:
“Welding of in-line quenched and tempered bars can have detrimental effects on the
strength and ductility of the bars and associated connection.

AS 3600 requires designers to assume that the strength of such reinforcement has a
design strength of 250 Mpa (from 500Mpa) when raised to the temperatures associated
with welding, galvanizing or hot bending.
Such a requirement is considered inappropriate in a seismically active country
where concentration of yielding at a weld position would be undesirable and could
result in brittle failure.

Welding a Quench and Tempered (QT) reinforcing bar raises the steel above
the temperature it was tempered at and without the controlled quench and
temper process it will cool slowly back to ambient temperature. Through this
cycle it will lose the strength of its external case and revert back to a steel with
a much lower yield strength. Micro-Alloy (MA) reinforcing steel can be welded
such that it maintains its ductility and its strength.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

Difference Between QT /TMT and


MA After Threading

QT / TMT Rebar MicroAlloy MA Rebar

Not only is there a Simple Reduction in Area as for the MA rebar, but
there is also a Disproportionate loss in Strength for QT/TMT rebars
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

COMPARISON of MA and QT REBARS

MA QT

Possible - following the correct Not Possible without losing


Rebending
preheating process strength

Possible - following the correct Not Possible without losing


Welding
procedure strength

Loss of strength dis-


Loss of strength proportional
Threading proportionate to loss of cross
to loss of cross sectional area
sectional area

Jitendra K Bothara “Comparing Seismic® QT and Seismic® MA High Strength Bars and Design Considerations”
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

NZ Standard 3101:2006 Concrete


Structures Part 1
Section 5.3.2.2

“Restrictions on in-line quenched and tempered process


shall not be used where welding, hot bending, or
threading of bars occurs.”
“It is important to note that any process involving heat
e.g. Welding, galvanizing and hot bending can adversely
affect the mechanical properties of quench and
tempered reinforcing bars by modification of the
microstructure.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

SEISMIC PERFORMANCE CONSIDERATIONS

 Studies in several parts of the world notably Italy, New


Zealand and Australia etc have pointed to the dangers
associated with the use of QT / TMT rebars under Cyclic
loading particularly in Seismic Zone 4.

 These do not even include the unsuitability of the same bars


when welded under cyclic loading which as the MIRDC
study shows, indicate a very limited elongation of the rebars
when welded and subjected to static tensile tests.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

Performance under Cyclic Loading


Micro Alloyed MA Rebars
With steel Fe, the plastic
deformation spread for a
considerable length
along the specimen
because of the high
strain hardening value fu Large Yield region
/ fy, local curvature was
smaller, the concrete Results in Large
cover remained intact and Curvature and enhanced
the bars did not fail. The
RC member therefore Ductile Performance
sustained higher top
displacement”
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

Performance under Cyclic Loading


QT/TMT Rebars
“ Quite different behavior in the RC
Specimens was observed with the
two kinds of steel:
*With steel A8 (TMT), plastic strains
of the bars were concentrated in a
very limited vertical region of the Reduced Yield region
specimen..The high local curvature
necessary for the required Reduces Curvature and
displacement at the top caused a Results in Premature
considerable deterioration , leading
to destruction of the concrete cover. yielding and cracking of
The lack of concrete cover allowed concrete cover and
the bars in compression to buckle.
The bars then failed in tension under buckling of rebars
reverse action.”,
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

There is indeed a Clear and present Danger associated with the


use of QT / TMT Rebars in Seismic Zone 4 which encompasses
the majority of the Philippine Islands except Palawan.

As shown on this paper, even international codes such as the New


Zealand Code and the Australian Standards prohibit Welding,
Heating, Bending, Threading and even Tack welding of QT
/ TMT rebars. Welding can be used but special electrodes which
“cost 7 Times more 10] ” are required with the necessary
corresponding welding skills, but even then a reduction in the
strength is required which prevent its use in Seismic Zone 4.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 What can be done

The structural Engineering Profession and the Manufacturers and Consultants


in General can no longer postpone action on the proliferation of QT / TMT
rebars being used for high rise buildings in Seismic Zone 4.

We must encourage the Philippine Iron and Steel Industry through the
PISI to again bring the MA rebars in the market by categorically
specifying this in our design and also through the help of Regulatory
Agencies of the Government and categorically stating that QT / TMT
rebars are not to be supplied as an alternative to MA Rebars in Seismic
Zone 4 Building Designs.

The Engineering community is now formally informed of the dangers


associated with the continued use of QT / TMT rebars in Seismic Zone 4. and
it is our responsibility to ensure that we use the materials that would be safe
and perform adequately under Seismic Loading.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

How we respond to this Message can Affect the Integrity and


the Safety of Critical Structures in the Years to come
specially when we have the BIG ONE !

Thank you !
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

Questions are welcome.


Thank you for your interest.

Presented by:
Emilio M. Morales, CE, MSCE, F. ASCE, F. ASEP
Questions are welcome.
Thank you for your interest.

Presented by:
Emilio M. Morales, CE, MSCE, F. ASCE, F. ASEP
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

ON USE OF GRADE 500 E Steel


NZ 3101
Why Should there be Prohibitions
on the Use of QT/TMT Rebars in
Seismic Zone 4
Why QT/TMT Bars Should be Prohibited…
 Various International Studies (Italy, Portugal, New Zealand Australia) and
testing of QT/TMT Rebars Indicate significant Reduction of Performance
when the Martensite skin is Damaged or Affected by Construction
Operations. (Japan does not use this type of Rebar)
 Australia and New Zealand have introduced prohibitions on the use of
QT/TMT rebars where Damaged to the Martensite skin is likely (Welding,
Threading etc)
 International studies in Italy of scale model RC Structures reinforced with
QT/TMT subjected to Cyclic Loading have indicated premature failure
even at 1 cycle only as compared to MA rebars which endured multiple
cycles (> 5 ) before failure. This indicates that the time allowed for fast
evacuation during a severe earthquake is greatly reduced.
 Recent studies of QT/TMT (Portugal) rebars under static loading after
removal of the Martensite skin, showed significant degradation in the rebar
capacity as well as reduction in the Maximum strain before failure by as
much as 42%. The SIGNIFICANT reduction in maximum strain at failure
reduces the energy absorption capacity of the structure during shaking
allowing early initiation of failure.
 In addition, for critical infrastructure subject to CORROSION
environment, the same effect is expected due to accelerated corrosion
attack of the thin Martensite skin.
ON THE USE OF HIGHER GRADE STEEL Grade
500 (70 kSI)
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

CONCLUSIONS IN NEW ZEALAND STUDY 9]


“The Standard implies that butt-welding of Grade 500 E reinforcing steel is
possible but is silent on the performance expected. Discussion at the recent
seminars on Grade 500E reinforcing steel indicated that currently there may
not be a suitable welding electrode available to provide confidence
that failure will always occur in the steel rather than the weld when
the bars are at the higher end of the maximum tensile strength range
allowable in AS/NZS 4671 and the bars containing the weld are required to
yield at overstrength. Although this issue is covered in the amendment to NZS
3101, it is essential that it is also addressed in AS/NZS 1554.3 as butt-welds
complying with the Tables in this Standard are deemed to be pre-qualified and
could be assumed to be capable. of developing the strength of the bar, unless
warnings are given to the contrary “

New Zealand Department of Building and Housing “Report on Grade 500 E Reinforcement”
July 2005 Wellington NZ
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

Microalloyed Steel- The originally acceptable Rebar Type,


microalloyed steel, suddenly replaced by QT/TMT rebars, derives its
strength from alloying materials specifically vanadium and Carbon
and consists of a uniform cross section manufactured from steel
billets. The alloys are added in the heat.
This is the commonly used Rebar until it suddenly disappeared
in the marketplace.
Micro-Alloying is the more expensive process of the two as it
involves the addition of rare alloys - such as Vanadium - at the steel
making stage and there are no water quenches. The end result is a
bar, which unlike the QT bar, has the same UNIFORM hardness,
strength and flexibility right across the cross-section of the bar.
Generally, this is a slightly expensive rebar, BUT Cost is NOT the
issue as endangerment of life and property can result from the use
of QT/TMT rebars.

.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
28-29 Septermber 2011

CYCLIC RESISTANCE OF QT /TMT REBARS


In a study by Macchi [Ref 2] a large RC specimen was
subjected to cyclic loading to check the ductility of
Traditional Steel and TMT rebars conforming to
Eurocode EC 8 Seismic detailing. Quote the
experimental results as follows:

“With only one exception, all steel A8 (referring to TMT rebars)


specimens failed when tested according to sequences….. In fact, all
steel A8 reinforcing bars failed before the end of the Test. In many
cases, they failed during the first cycle at the maximum required
displacement ”

“On the contrary, specimens built with steel Fe (referring to Standard


steel rebars) behaved satisfactorily.”