Progressive collapse of buildings can be avoided

(10-03-2022) Luchuan Ding's PhD thesis examined how progressive building collapse can be avoided in the future.

The collapse of buildings in the past (e.g. WTC New York) and more recent disasters (e.g. Morandi Bridge Genoa and more recent apartment block in Miami) prove the relevance of research into the vulnerability of building structures and the urgent need to improve the design requirements of structures.

In this respect, structural safety is an important topic in the field of structural engineering. One of the aspects of achieving structural safety is to design the structures so that a localised damage does not endanger the whole structure.

"In my doctoral research, I looked for a way to contribute to stronger and thus safer structures so that major disasters can be avoided in the future," says Luchuan.

"I looked at how a structure reacts to dynamic effects after a number of supporting columns have been removed, for example as the result of a vehicle impact, terrorist attack or degradation. And I investigated to what extent you can predict these reactions," Luchuan explains.

"More specifically, I investigated to what extent an approximate method based on conservation of energy (the EBM method) allows a sufficiently accurate prediction of the dynamic effects. When compared to computationally intensive dynamic analyses, this method appears to make a sufficiently accurate prediction of the maximum dynamic response for the purpose of robustness analyses."

"Furthermore, I investigated the suitability of computationally more efficient approximation methods that initially apply the EBM to a fibre-based beam model and then combine this approach with a multilayer hybrid calculation scheme that divides the structural system into an accurately calculated directly affected zone and a simplified calculated indirectly affected zone. Both approaches prove to be effective and provide a significant computational advantage," Luchuan continues.

"Finally, the (dynamic) progressive collapse behaviour of existing reinforced concrete structures when subject to reinforcement corrosion was also investigated," Luchuan concludes.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD

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PhD Title: Quantitative Assessment of Reinforced Concrete Buildings Subjected to Column Removal Scenarios Taking into Account Dynamic Response Behaviour

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Contact: Luchuan Ding, Robby Caspeele, Ruben Van Coile

Luchuan Ding was born in 1991 in Chongqing, China. He received his master's degree in Architectural and Civil Engineering in 2017 at the College of Civil Engineering of Tongji University.

In 2018, he started working as a Ph.D. researcher at the Department of Structural Engineering and Building Materials of Ghent University. His research aims to evaluate the progressive collapse performance of reinforced concrete building structures subjected to column removed scenarios taking into account dynamic response behaviour. The research content includes the following three aspects in the context of progressive collapse: the evaluation of the performance of the energy-based method, the development of efficient dynamic analysis approaches in relation to reliability and robustness assessments, and the evaluation of progressive collapse behaviour of deteriorated reinforced concrete building structures.

Luchuan is the first author of three peer-reviewed journal articles and five conference papers. During his time at Ghent University, he also cooperated in industry services and education activities, such as master students tutoring and assistance in exams and conferences.

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Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Final editing: Ilse Vercruysse - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke