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Fatigue life assessment of old steel truss bridges

   Department of Civil Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Steel trusses have widely been used over the last 150 years for railway and highway bridges. Construction of such bridges is quite complex, particularly in the region of welded joints (connections) where secondary reinforcing steel plates are often welded onto the main steel beam sections to alleviate the high stress concentrations and prolong fatigue life. This complex manufacturing does not only result in an increased construction cost, but also to a non-ductile behaviour of joints, often leading to structural failure and collapse. The poor behaviour of steel bridges to extreme loads is further exacerbated by the increased frequency and severity of environmental actions, the increased corrosion rate, and the increased traffic loads.

The present project will investigate the fatigue behaviour of welded gusset-plate joints used in old steel truss bridges. Using digitalized inspection technologies and available data provided by an industrial partner, an actual bridge will be simulated through refined finite element modelling. The performance of gusset-plate connections to fatigue loads will be assessed until ultimate failure and suitable models will be developed. Damage simulations will involve both physical experimentation and computational methods incorporating advanced fracture models. Outcomes will support the development of an assessment method that can enable a rational decision-making framework for the remaining fatigue life of the bridge.

PhD qualifications:

Prospective students should hold at least a 2:1 Bachelors degree (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities) or a Masters degree (preference for Merit or above) in a relevant technical subject. The project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in Structural Engineering and Steel Structures. A basic knowledge of finite element analysis methods (e.g., ABAQUS, ANSYS) and programming languages (e.g., MATLAB or Python) is essential. Basic understanding/experience of laboratory procedures and experiments are desirable

Funding Notes

The School of Engineering has an open funding call for applications. A fully or partially funded PhD scholarship which covers fees and a stipend for home UK students or an equivalent contribution to fees for international students can be obtained.
More details about fees and application process can be found here:
View Website
Informal enquires can be sent to Dr Konstantinos Skalomenos () and in the first instance should contain a covering letter and a CV.


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Tang H, Wang C, Wang R (2016), Enhancing stability of thin-walled short steel channel using CFRP under eccentric compression. International Journal of Polymer Science, vol. 2016, ID 2790385. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/2790385
Göran Alpsten G (2017), Causes of Structural Failures with Steel Structures. Stockholm: The Royal Institute of Techonlgy KTH. Link
Astaneh-Asl A (2008), Progressive collapse of steel truss bridges, the case of I-35W collapse, in: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Steel Bridges, Invited Keynote paper, Guimarăes, Portugal, 4-6 June. Link
ASCE (2018), Structural Steel: An Industry Overview. American Institute of Steel Construction.
Kühn B, Lukić M, Nussbaumer A, Günther H-P, Helmerich R, Heroin S, Kolstein MH, Walbridge S, Androic B, Dijkstra O, Bucak Ö (2008), Assessment of Existing Steel Structures: Recommendations for Estimation of Remaining Fatigue Life, JRC Scientific and Technical reports. Joint Report Prepared under the JRC – ECCS co-operation agreement for the evolution of Eurocode 3 (program of CEN/TC 250), Editors: G. Sedlacek, F. Bijlaard, M. Géradin, A. Pinto and S. Dimova, First Edition 2008, EUR 23252 EN, ISSN 1018-5593, JRC 43401.
Eurocode 3, EC3 (2005). Design of steel structures, part 1. 1: General rules for buildings. European prestandard ENV 1993- 1-1. Brussels: European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
ANSI/AISC Standard 360-16 (2016). Specification for structural steel buildings. USA: American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC).
Biezma MV, Schanack F (2007), Collapse of steel bridges, Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities of ASCE 21(5), 398-405. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0887-3828(2007)21:5(398)
Skalomenos KA, Nakashima M, Kurata M (2018), Seismic capacity quantification of gusset-plate connections to fracture for ductility-based design, Journal of Structural Engineering of ASCE, 144(10): 04018195, https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0002193
Skalomenos KA, Kurata M, Nakashima M (2018), On-line hybrid test method for evaluating the performance of structural details to failure, Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, 47(3):555–572, https://doi.org/10.1002/eqe.2979
Inamasu H, Skalomenos KA, Hsiao P-C, Hayashi K, Kurata M, Nakashima M (2017), Gusset plate connections for naturally buckling steel braces, Journal of Structural Engineering of ASCE, 143(8): 04017065, https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0001794

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