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Experimental investigation on the reversibility of concrete creep under repeating loads

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So far, creep reversibility of concrete has been tested either under single unloading or stepwise (“staircase”) stress histories. However, these investigations do not provide a complete understanding of the creep behavior under repeating stress histories, similar to variable live load histories in usual concrete structures. Typical examples are parking garages, bridges or storage buildings with frequent but still longer-term loadings and unloadings. Therefore, the paper attempts to extend the knowledge on the creep under frequently repeated stresses by testing concrete specimens under various loading and drying conditions. The creep-recovery versus creep ratio over time, considered here as a measure of creep reversibility, was studied within two separate experiments. The first experiment aims to assess the influence of different service stress levels with 30% and 45% of the concrete compressive strength fc as well as different unloading levels of full and partial unloading. The second one focuses on the influence of different hygral conditions of the specimens, namely sealed and unsealed conditions. Regardless of the stress level, the creep-recovery versus creep ratio tends to approach unity after a sufficient number of loading and unloading cycles. Drying conditions show negligible effects on the creep recovery. On the other hand, they have remarkable influence on the proportion of the creep reversible in each loading cycle. Moreover, the basic creep component shows high reversibility under repeating stress histories. The results demonstrate that the recovery behavior under repeating stresses pronouncedly differs from the ones under just sustained stresses.

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Coefficient of variation

d max :

Maximum aggregate size

E cm, E(t 1), E 28 :

(Mean, time-dependent, 28 days) modulus of elasticity of concrete

f c, f cm :

(Ultimate, mean) concrete compressive strength

J, J rec :

(Creep, creep recovery) compliance function

n :

Number of stress increments or decrements

R 2 :

Coefficient of determination in least squared method

R L, R U :

Stress/compressive strength ratio (at loading, at unloading)

t :


t 0, t 1, t e, t s :

Concrete age (age at first loading, age at stress increment or decrement applied, age at unloading, age at curing)

Δε cr, Δε rec :

Strain increment (creep, creep recovery)

Δt L, Δt U :

Duration of (loading, unloading) sequence

Δσ c :

Stress increment or decrement applied on concrete

ε as, ε ds :

Shrinkage (autogenous, drying)

ε c :

Total strain

ε cc :

Total creep strain

ε cr.d :

Delayed elastic strain

ε cr.f, ε cr.fb, ε cr.fd, ε :

Flow (total, basic, drying, rapid initial)

ε cr.rec. :

Creep recovery

ε cs :

Total shrinkage strain

ε ct :

Total stress-induced strain

ε e :

Instantaneous recovery strain

ε i, ε ip :

Instantaneous strain (initial, plastic)

ε rec.tot. :

Total recovery

ε res :

Residual strain

ε sealed tol :

Total measured strain of sealed specimen

ε unsealed tol :

Total measured strain of unsealed specimen

µ :

Mean value

σ :

Standard deviation

σ c :

Initial stress

φ :

Creep ratio

φ cr :

Creep recovery coefficient


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The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Dr. Hussein Alawieh, Head of the Structural Testing Laboratory KIB KON at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

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Correspondence to Marija Docevska.

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Docevska, M., Markovski, G. & Mark, P. Experimental investigation on the reversibility of concrete creep under repeating loads. Mater Struct 52, 83 (2019).

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  • Creep recovery
  • Repeating load history
  • Creep-recovery versus creep ratio
  • Basic creep
  • Drying creep