LIFETIME-ORIENTED OPTIMIZATION OF BRIDGE TIE RODS EXPOSED TO VORTEX-INDUCED ACROSS-WIND VIBRATIONS
In recent years, damages in welded connections plates of vertical tie rods of several arched steel bridges have been reported. These damages are due to fatigue caused by wind-induced vibrations. In the present study, such phenomena are examined, and the corresponding lifetime of a reference bridge in Münster-Hiltrup, Germany, is estimated, based on the actual shape of the connection plate. Also, the results obtained are compared to the expected lifetime of a connection plate, whose geometry has been optimized separately. The structural optimization, focussing on the shape of the cut at the hanger ends, has been carried out using evolution strategies. The oscillation amplitudes have been computed by means of the Newmark-Wilson time-step method, using an appropriate load model, which has been validated by on-site experiments on the selected reference bridge. Corresponding stress-amplitudes are evaluated by multiplying the oscillation amplitudes with a stress concentration factor. This factor has been computed on the basis of a finite element model of the system "hanger-welding-connection plate", applying solid elements, according to the notch stress approach. The damage estimation takes into account the stochastics of the exciting wind process, as well as the stochastics of the material parameters (fatigue strength) given in terms of Woehler-curves. The shape optimization results in a substantial increase of the estimated hanger lifetime. The comparison of the lifetimes of the bulk plate and of the welding revealed that, in the optimized structure, the welding, being the most sensitive part in the original structure, shows much more resistance against potential damages than the bulk material.