Experimental Mechanics

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 168–175 | Cite as

Finite-element solutions for thermal stresses in steel-concrete composite bridges

Stresses produced by steady-state temperatures are computed. Analyses using the finite-element method are compared to the experimental results
  • C. Berwanger
  • Y. Symko


The objective was to determine experimentally and analytically steady-state temperature distributions produced in the cross-sectional planes of steel-concrete composite simple-span bridges. The upper and lower surfaces were exposed to different temperatures.

The research included the development of finite-element solutions for steady-state temperature distributions from known boundary conditions and the calculation of strains and stresses. Temperature and stress distributions were generally nonlinear with linear strains through the finite elements. Temperatures were predicted to ±1° F (±0.6° C). The experimental strains are linear through the composite section, with the computed finite-element strains generally giving slightly higher stresses.

The concrete-slab stresses were overestimated for positive curvature and slightly underestimated for negative curvature. Concrete-slab stresses were relatively small when compared to their permissible stress. Temperature stresses in the steel beam were shown to be significantly large to warrant consideration in the design of these bridges. Stresses were calculated for short-term steady-state temperatures. Transient field conditions producing greater thermal stresses are now under investigation.


Thermal Stress Temperature Stress Negative Curvature Positive Curvature Steel Beam 
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Copyright information

© Society for Experimental Mechanics, Inc. 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Berwanger
    • 1
  • Y. Symko
    • 1
  1. 1.Civil Engineering Dept., Faculty of Science and EngineeringUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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