Unbonded Post Tensioned Concrete Slabs in Fire – Part I – Experimental Response of Unbonded Tendons under Transient Localized Heating
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The fire-safe structural design and construction of unbonded post-tensioned (UPT) flat plate concrete structures has recently come under debate in the UK, and questions are being raised regarding the response to fire of post-tensioned concrete slabs. Related to these concerns is the real world response of continuous UPT tendons inside such structures both during and after a fire, which is largely unknown and depends on many potentially important factors which are not currently accounted for in standard fire tests. Several credible concerns exist for UPT concrete structures in fire, most notably the potential for premature tendon rupture due to localized heating which may result from a number of possible causes (discussed herein). The research presented in this paper deals specifically with the time-temperature-stress-strength interdependencies of stressed UPT tendons under localized transient heating, as may be experienced by tendons in a real UPT building in a real fire. Nineteen high temperature stress relaxation tests on UPT tendons of realistic length and parabolic longitudinal profile are reported. It is shown that localized heating of UPT tendons is likely to induce premature tendon rupture during fire, even in structures which meet the prescriptive concrete cover requirements imposed by available design codes.