Finite-Element Modeling of Hybrid Composite Beam Bridges in Missouri


Three bridges were recently constructed in Missouri using a new type of hybrid composite beam (HCB) incorporated within traditional RC deck systems. These HCBs are comprised of three main subcomponents: a composite shell, compression reinforcement, and tension reinforcement. The compression reinforcement is a self-consolidating concrete (SCC) arch that is tied at the ends by high-strength galvanized steel strands. The compression and tension reinforcements are encapsulated in a glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) box, and the voids are filled with polyisocyrunate (polyiso) foam. This unique configuration aims to optimize the structural performance of the HCB constituents, hence optimizing the overall performance of the beam. However, because of the novelty of the HCB, its structural behavior is not yet completely understood. Consequently, the finite-element (FE) modeling of this new type of beam is crucial for providing deeper insight into its structural behavior and validating the current design assumptions. It is, therefore, the main goal of this study to examine the accuracy of linear FE analysis (FEA) in predicting the static behavior of the HCB under service loads. This paper explains in detail the FE modeling of the superstructure of one of the recently constructed HCB bridges, using two commercial FEA packages. A field load test that simulates several load cases was applied to the bridge, and the deflections of the HCBs were measured at different locations. A simple analytical procedure that is based on the transformed area method is also used to predict the HCB deflections. The comparison between measured deflections and predicted deflections shows that the FEA can predict the HCB bridge behavior with acceptable accuracy, whereas the theoretical procedure significantly overestimates the beams' deflections. Finally, the two FE models are used to analyze the behavior of the HCBs.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Arch bridges; Beams and girders; Composite beams and girders; Deflection (structures); Fiber reinforced plastics; Filled polymers; Forecasting; Galvanizing; High strength steel; Reinforced plastics; Reinforcement; Structural analysis; Bridge superstructure; Bridge testing; Fiber reinforced polymer composites; Hybrid composites; Structural behaviors; Finite element method; Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites; Finite-element analysis (FEA); Full-scale bridge testing; Hybrid composite beam (HCB); Structural behavior analysis

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1084-0702; 1943-5592

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2015