Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering


William G. Davids

Second Committee Member

Eric N. Landis

Third Committee Member

Roberto Lopez-Anido

Additional Committee Members

Edwin Nagy

Andrew J. Goupee


This dissertation presents the development of finite-element (FE) techniques to simulate the behavior of concrete-filled fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) tubes (CFFTs) in support of more effective structural design and analysis methods for buried composite arch bridges (BCABs) that use CFFT arches as main structural members. The research includes three specific topics to make contributions in different aspects of the investigation of these complex structures.

The first topic is the nonlinear three-dimensional FE modeling of steel-free CFFT splices. For model validation, comparisons were made between the model predictions and control beam and spliced beams with and without internal collars tested by others. The modeling was complex due to the need to capture the nonlinear constitutive response of the confined concrete, simulate concrete-FRP interaction, and explicitly incorporate the splice components. Therefore, the numerical analysis utilized the Abaqus/CAE software package with a modified damage concrete plasticity model to idealize the concretefill.

The second topic of this research is the development of a computationally efficient structural FE analysis technique for the second-order inelastic behavior of these CFFT arches that includes initial arch curvature. A curved, planar, corotational, flexibility-based (FB), layered frame element is employed to handle geometric and material nonlinearities. An FRP-confined concrete stress-strain model that explicitly considers the effect of dilation of the concrete core and confinement provide by the FRP tube is implemented. Verification of the FB formulation was carried out for elastic-plastic analysis of a beam and elastic post-buckling analysis of a circular arch. The measured flexural responses of different isolated CFFT arches available in the literature were used to verify the proposed model. The model was shown to accurately predict the load-carrying capacity and ductility of the tested CFFT arches. The model captured arch collapse mechanisms arising from FRP rupture and concrete crushing at the apex of the arches.

The third topic is an extension of the planar FB model to three-dimensions and incorporation of a soil-spring model to simulate soil-structure interaction using a recently developed horizontal earth pressure model. The model rigorously incorporates the interaction between axial load and bending effects in the arches and permits the examination of out-of-plane stability and arch deformations due to bridge skew. Parametric studies were conducted to assess the effect of abutment skew angle on the behavior of CFFT arch bridge components, an important practical design consideration.