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prestressed concrete, because stresses induced by steel cables in the material help to counterbalance tensile

stress.
Its superior strength in tension permits engineers to design longer unsupported spans. Ultimately, the choice
between prestressed and conventional reinforced concrete should be made based on the type of project and the
properties it requires.
Prestressed concrete requires more complex formwork, so it has less design flexibility than other kinds of
reinforced concrete, which often makes design more challenging. Moreover, the margin for error in preparing
prestressed concrete is much smaller than other more conventional materials, so more care and caution must be
exercised in construction.
prestressed concrete, because stresses induced by steel cables in the material help to counterbalance tensile
stress.

PRESTRESSED CONCRETE- MERITS AND DEMERITS


1.

Since the technique of prestressing eliminates cracking of concrete under all stage of loading, the
entire section of the structures takes part in resisting the external load. In contrast to this, in the
reinforced concrete, only portion of the concrete above neutral axis is effective.

2.

Since concrete does not crack, the possibility of steel to rust and concrete to deteriorate is minimized.

3.

Absence of cracks results in higher capacity of the structure to bear reversal of stresses, impact,
vibration and shock.

4.

In prestressed concrete beams, dead loads are practically neutralized. The reactions required are
therefore much smaller than required in reinforced concrete. The reduced dead load weight of the
structure results in saving in the cost of foundations. The neutralization of dead load is of importance
in large bridges.

5.

The use of curved tendons and the pre-compression of concrete helps to resist shear.

6.

The quantity of steel required for prestressing about 1/3 of that required for reinforced concrete,
though the steel for the former should have high tensile strength.

7.

In prestressed concrete, precast blocks and elements can be assumed and used as one unit. This saves
in the cost of shuttering and centering for large structures.

8.

With the advent of prestressed concrete, it has been possible now to construct large size liquid
retaining structures not economical to build otherwise. Such structures have low cost and are
preferably safe against cracking and consequent leakage.

9.

Prestressed concrete can be used with advantage in all those structures where tension develops, such
as tie and suspender of a bow string girder, railway sleepers, electric poles, upstream face of gravity
dam etc.

10. Prestressed concrete beams have usually low deflection.

Prestressed concrete construction has following demerits:

1.

It requires high quality dense concrete of high strength. Perfect quality concrete in production,
placement and compaction is required.

2.

It requires high tensile steel, which is 2.5 to 3.5 times costlier than mild steel.

3.

It requires complicated tensioning equipment and anchoring devices, which are usually covered under
patented rights.

4.

Construction requires perfect supervision at all stages of construction.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Prestressed Concrete


Advantages
1) High Tensile Strength and Crack Resistance
A normal concrete slab, if put under tension, sags down under the pressure of the weight. In this position, the top
of the slab is under compression, while its bottom is under tension. Since concrete can withstand large amounts of
compression, the top of the slab is able to bear the load. However, concrete is weak against tensile forces. The
bottom of the slab begins to crack, until the whole slab crumbles down.
Prestressed concrete has a high amount of tensile strength, and is thus able to bear large loads without cracking or
failing.
2) Lower Depths
Owing to its high tensile strength, prestressed concrete can be used to build structures having considerably lower
depths, as compared to reinforced concrete structures. This has two main advantages. If used for building slabs,
the greater slenderness of this concrete, as compared to reinforced concrete, saves on space requirements, which
can result in additional usable space becoming available, especially in multi-storied buildings where the space
saved in the construction of each level adds up cumulatively. The second advantage of lower depths structures is
that they have lower weights, and so supporting columns in buildings too can be made smaller, which saves on
construction cost and effort.
3) Longer Spans
Prestressed concrete can be used to build structures having a longer span as compared to reinforced concrete. In
the construction of buildings, this means that fewer columns will be required to support the slabs, and also the
spacing between them can be kept much larger. For bridges, using prestressed concrete can allow the engineers to
build long spanning bridge sections, which won't fail under load.
4) Rapid and Reliable Construction
Prestressed concrete blocks are manufactured in industries in several standard shapes and sizes. They are known
as precast blocks. Since they are professionally manufactured, they have extremely good build quality, while at the
same time they provide all the strength benefits of precast concrete. They can be directly trucked to the
construction site and used to rapidly complete the construction work. The structures built using these blocks are
known to have a better overall quality, and require less long-term maintenance.

Disadvantages
1) Greater Building Complexity
Prestressing concrete on the construction site is a challenging and complex process. One must have thorough
knowledge of each step which is involved, along with complete knowledge of the use of the various equipment
that are required. Precast concrete structures once made, are difficult to alter, and hence, the complexity of initial
planning too is increased. Also, since the margin for error is very low, a lot of care needs to be taken while
constructing with it.
2) Increased Construction Cost
Prestressing concrete requires expertise and special equipment, both of which can be expensive to obtain. Even
the cost of precast blocks is significantly higher than reinforced blocks. In the construction of residential buildings,
the additional tensile strength offered by prestressed concrete may be unnecessary, as simple reinforced concrete,
which is much cheaper, is strong enough to fulfill almost all load requirements.

3) Need for Quality Control and Inspection


The procedure used for prestressing needs to be checked and approved by quality control engineers. Each
prestressed concrete structure has to inspected in order to ensure that it has been subjected to the appropriate
amount of stress. Too much stress is also bad, and it can damage the concrete, making it weaker.
Prestressed concrete structures offer superior tensile strength as compared to normal and even reinforced
concrete ones, but they are complicated to design and much costlier to build. For low tension applications, such as
slabs in buildings, using prestressed concrete is largely impractical. Hence, the decision to use prestressed concrete
must be made only if the project specifications and requirements demand it.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-prestressedconcrete.html

Post-tensioning

1. Can be performed at the project site as well as at precast yards.


2. There is relatively less loss of prestress due to concrete shrinkage as at the time of
prestressing concerete has already been cured.
3. Corrosion of steel is less as compared to pre-tensioning.
4. There is more flexibility in design. The prestressing tendons can be configured to
almost any shape. As per requirements the tendons may be bonded or unbonded.
5. They are more prone to anchorage failure as the compressive forces are transferred at
the beam ends. Hence compressive stresses are concentrated.

Pre-tensioning

1. Difficult to perform at site. Only done in precast yards.


2. There is greater loss of prestress due to shrinkage of concrete.
3. Concrete and steel tendons are in direct contact. So any moisture that slips through
cracks in concrete will cause corrosion in steel.
4. Tendons can only be straight, harped or circular.
5. Since the compressive forces are transferred over a certain length of bond, they are less
prone to anchorage failure.
Pre Tensioning implies that the tension is applied to the tendons before casting the
concrete. Good bond of concrete and steel is required over the transmission length
It has the following advantages :

Suitable for pre-cast members produced in bulk.


Does not need large anchorage devices.
Post Tensioning implies that the tension is applied to the tendons after hardening of
concrete. The advantages of Post tensioned members are :

Suitable for heavy cast-in-situ members.


Transfer of pre-stress is independent of transmission length.
The major Disadvantage of Post tensioned members is that large anchorage devices
are needed for the transfer of pre stress, and this renders the construction impossible
in remote areas.

Prestressed Concrete vs. Reinforced Concrete


Head to head, prestressed concrete offers more advantages and lesser disadvantages than reinforced
concrete especially in the following aspects:
A) Consistency
Prestressed concrete is able to take the shape of the mold easily without any significant effects on its
consistency as compared to reinforced concrete. On the other hand, reinforced concrete normally uses a significant
level of water to take the shape of its mold. Add the fact that it is often very hard to measure the appropriate amount of
water that will make the reinforced concrete bond with the steel reinforcement.
B) Overall Strength and Durability

The overall strength of concrete is determined through its water-cement ratio. Since prestressed concrete has
a lower water-cement ratio than reinforced concrete, the former makes a stronger concrete than the latter.
C) Elasticity
Due to the reduction of its tensile stress, prestressed concrete is more elastic than reinforced concrete

Differences between Reinforced Concrete (RC) and Prestressed


Concrete

(PC)

Tensile
RC:

Tensile

strength

of

concrete

Strength
is

assumed

to

be

negligible.

PC: Permanent stresses are created prior to full DL and LL application to


reduce net tensile stresses.

Cracking

and

Deflection

RC

RC:
cracks

only

1/2-1/3

of

concrete

crosssection

contributes

to

effectiveness.
Cracking and deflection are typically irrecoverable after reaching these limit
states.
Limited by deflections because cracking reduces effective moment of inertia.

Service

deflections

are

typically

large.
PC:

Little, if any, cracking. Entire cross-section contributes to effectiveness.


A higher level of recovery of cracking and deflection due to prestressing
force.
Service deflections are small (camber reduces ? and full section is stiffer).
Both RC and PC deflect appreciably at ultimate loads.

Stiffness
RC:

Stiffness

is

difficult

to

control

economically.

PC: Stiffness can be flexible or rigid by controlling amount of prestress for a


given

strength.

** PC acts like RC when applied moment exceeds flexural tensile strength.

Shear

RC:

No

PC:

direct

Some

assistance
assistance

from

longitudinal

from

steel.

longitudinal

steel.

Serviceability

RC:

Heavy

PC:

Lighter

Can

weight

accommodate

longer

spans

More adaptable to precasting.

Safety

RC:

Safe

PC: Partial testing of steel and concrete by tensioning loads.

Economy

RC:
PC:

Less

More

material,

but

higher

material.
cost

materials

used.

Tend to save on other parts of structure because PC is lighter.


Disadvantages

of

Prestressed

Higher

Concrete

material

Prestressing

is

an

costs
added

cost

Formwork is more complex than for RC (flanged sections, thin webs) thus,
precast not as ductile as RC
Advantages

High

PC

steel

20-35%

Lighter

Prestressed

strength

PC:

of

section

in

of

active

RC
spans

RC

foundations
is

concrete

Longer

65-80%

Lighter
Entire

&

reinforcement
section,

depth

Concrete

depth
possible

(more

efficient)

Crackless

Better

corrosion

resistance,

better

durability

Deflection
Critical

for

spans

greater

control

than

Better

70-90

ft.

(excessive

shear

DL)

resistance

Inherent safety: highest prestress force is applied when concrete is weakest


(during construction); but, costs can be brought closer to RC for large
quantities
Indirect long-term savings is large (less maintenance, longer life possible
quality

materials)

Best solution: probably a combination of PC and RC = partial prestressing.


Definitions

Linear

Prestressing

Prestressing applied longitudinal to the axis of the member

Circular

Prestressing

Circumferential hoop (hugging) stress on cylindrical or spherical structure


Prestressing

Methods

Pretensioning

Do
Load

not
is

self-react

transferred

by

bond

against
of

wire

member.
with

concrete.

Disadvantage:

Need

for

large

abutments.

Only practical for prefabricators in casting yards.

Post-tensioning

React
Jack

and

(Bonded,
against

then

fix

tendon

Unbonded)
beam

with

one

itself.
end

anchored.

Bonded conduits pump grout into conduit to fix location of tendons in


conduit.
Unbonded conduits no grout. Slabs: Unbonded tendons save time & $ (use

greased

tendons

or

tendons

wrapped

in

greased

paper).

Most useful in cast-in-place construction.


Post tensioning is a technique for reinforcing concrete. Post-tensioning tendons, which are prestressing steel cables
inside plastic ducts or sleeves, are positioned in the forms before the concrete is placed. Afterwards, once the
concrete has gained strength but before the service loads are applied, the cables are pulled tight, or tensioned, and
anchored against the outer edges of the concrete.
Post-tensioning is a form of prestressing. Prestressing simply means that the steel is stressed (pulled or tensioned)
before the concrete has to support the service loads. Most precast, prestressed concrete is actually pre-tensioned-the
steel is pulled before the concrete is poured. Post-tensioned concrete means that the concrete is poured and then the
tension is applied-but it is still stressed before the loads are applied so it is still prestressed.

pre-tensioning the reinforcement, in the form of tendons or cables, is stretched (put into
tension) across the concrete formwork before the concrete is placed. After the concrete has
hardened and a suitable strength developed, the tendons are released. The tendons attempt
to shorten and transfer the energy stored to the concrete through the bond between the
concrete and the reinforcement. A compressive force is therefore induced into the concrete.

Ordinary mild steel bars cannot be used because no prestress will be left in the bars after
shrinkage and creep losses have taken place instead of wires of high tensile is used
It is impossible to use high tensile steel as reinforcement for simple reinforced concrete if
high tension steel is used the high stresses in tensile reinforcement will result in such wide
cracks in tensile zone of concrete that the load carrying capacity of the members will
practically be lost

Prestress steel reinforcing bar placed in tension zone of a section subjected to tensile
stresses before casting the concrete

In concrete structures, prestress is introduced by stretching steel wire and


anchoring them against concrete. Therefore, the prestressing systems
should comprise essentially a method of stretching the steel and a method of
anchoring it to the concrete. Different systems are adopted for pretensioning and post tensioning.
PRE-TENSIONING SYSTEM:
Hoyer system or long line method is often adopted in pre-tensioning. Two
bulk heads or abutments independently anchored to the ground are provided
several meters apart, say, 100m. wires are stretched between the
bulkheads. Moulds are placed enclosing the wires. Concrete is placed
surrounding the wires. With this Hoyer system, several members can be
produced along one line. This method is economical and is used in almost all
pre-tensioning factories. For tensioning, a hydraulic jack is used. Wires are
gripped at the bulkheads, using split-cone wedges. These wedges are made
from tapered conical pins. Flat surface of the pin carries serrations to grip
the wire (fig. 1 and 2).
There is another pre-tensioning method known as Shorer system. In this
system a central tube of high strength steel carries the prestress from
surrounding wires and the entire assembly is placed in position and
concreted. After the concrete has attained sufficient strength, the tube is
removed and the prestress is transferred to concrete through bond. The hole
left by the tube is grouted.
The advantage in pre-tensioning system is that there is no expenditure on
end anchorages and on rubber core or metal sheath required for posttensioning system. There is greater certainty about the prestressing force. In

post-tensioned members certainty of the force depends on the two end


anchorages.
Disadvantages in this system are that the end abutments should be very
strong and are provided only in pre-cast factories. This naturally limits the
size of the member as large sizes are difficult to transport from factory to
the site of construction. Loss is more in pre-tensioned members.

Fig.1: Typical Pre-tensioning Bed

Fig.2: Some Typical Wire Gripping System


POST-TENSIONING:
A metal tube or a flexible hose following intended profile is placed inside the
mould and concrete is laid. Flexible hose is then removed leaving a duct
inside the member. Steel cable is inserted in the duct. The cable is anchored
at one end of the member and stretched using a hydraulic jack at the other
end. After stretching the cable is anchored at the other end also. Therefore
post tensioning system consists of end anchorages and jacks. The popular
post-tensioning systems are the following:
1. Freyssinet system

2. Magnel Blaton system


3. Gifford-Udall system
4. Lee-McCall system
1. Freyssinet System:
Freyssinet system was introduced by the French Engineer Freyssinet and it
was the first method to be introduced. High strength steel wires of 5mm or
7mm diameter, numbering 8 or 12 or 16 or 24 are grouped into a cable with
a helical spring inside. Spring keeps proper spacing for the wire. Cable is
inserted in the duct.

Fig.3: Freyssinet system of Post-tensioning


Anchorage device consists of a concrete cylinder with a concentric conical
hole and corrugations on its surface, and a conical plug carrying grooves on
its surface (Fig. 3). Steel wires are carried along these grooves at the ends.
Concrete cylinder is heavily reinforced. Members are fabricated with the
cylinder placed in position. Wires are pulled by Freyssinet double acting
jacks which can pull through suitable grooves all the wires in the cable at a
time. One end of the wires is anchored and the other end is pulled till the
wires are stretched to the required length. An inner piston in the jack then
pushes the plug into the cylinder to grip the wires.

2. Magnel Blaton system:


In Freyssinet system several wires are stretched at a time. In Magnel Blaton
system, two wires are stretched at a time. This method was introduced by a
famous engineer, Prof. Magnel of Belgium. In this system, the anchorage
device consists of sandwich plate having grooves to hold the wires and
wedges which are also grooved. Each plate carries eight wires. Between the
two ends the spacing of the wires is maintained by spacers. Wires of 5mm or
7mm are adopted. Cables consists of wires in multiples of 8 wires. Cables
with as much as 64 wires are also used under special conditions. A specially
deviced jack pulls two wires at a time and anchors them. The wires with the
sandwich plate using tapered wedge is shown in fig.4.

Fig.4: Anchorage of Magnel System


3. Gifford Udall System:

This system originated in Great Britain, is widely used in India. This is a


single wire system. Each wire is stressed independently using a double
acting jack. Any number of wires can be grouped together to form a cable in
this system. There are two types of anchorage device in this system.
a) Tube anchorages
b) Plate anchorages
Tube anchorage consists of a bearing plate, anchor wedges and anchor
grips. Anchor plate may be square or circular and have 8 or 12 tapered holes
to accommodate the individual prestressing wires. These wires are locked
into the tapered holes by means of anchor wedges. In addition, grout entry
hole is also provided in the bearing plate for grouting. Anchor wedges are
split cone wedges carrying serrations on its flat surface. There is a tube unit
which is a fabricated steel component incorporating a thrust plate, a steel
tube with a surrounding helix. This unit is attached to the end shutters and
form an efficient cast-in component of the anchorage (fig.5).

Fig.5: Plate Anchorage


4. Lee McCall System:
This method is used to prestress steel bars. The diameter of the bar is
between 12 and 28mm. bars provided with threads at the ends are inserted
in the performed ducts. After stretching the bars to the required length, they
are tightened using nuts against bearing plates provided at the end sections
of the member (fig.6).

Fig.6: End Anchorage for Lee McCall System


5. Other Methods of Prestressing:
a) Electrical Prestressing:
in this method, reinforcing bars is coated with thermoplastic material such as
sulphur or low melting alloy and buried in the concrete. After the concrete is
set, electric current of low voltage but high amperage is passed through the
bar. Electric current heats the bar and the bar elongates. Bars provided with
threads at the other end are tightened against heavy washers, after required
elongation is obtained. When the bar cools, prestress develops and the bond
is restored by resolidification of the coating.
b) Chemical Prestressing:
Chemical prestressing is done using expanding cement. Prestressing can be
applied b embedding steel in concrete made of expanding cement. Steel is
elongated by the expansion of the concrete and thus gets prestressed. Steel
in turn produces compressive stress in concrete.