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The influence of vertical reinforcement and lateral confinement on the axial capacity of masonry block walls



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Concrete masonry is a multi-component structural system. In the case of reinforced concrete masonry, the system includes the concrete units, the mortar, the reinforcing steel and the grout fill. Placing vertical steel reinforcing bars in the cores of the concrete units enhances the flexural strength of the wall. The vertical steel, when subjected to compression at moderate strain levels, must be confined to improve its resistance to buckling and to improve the effectiveness of the grout around the reinforcing bar. Based on the well established behaviour of reinforced concrete systems, it seems reasonable to presume that the primary means of enhancing ductility is to provide lateral confining steel at closely-spaced intervals to effectively increase the ultimate compressive strain in the grout. It may be assumed that transverse reinforcement in concrete masonry provides lateral confinement to the core so that the axial compressive strength of the grout is enhanced and the ductility improved. The focus of this study was to investigate the effect of vertical reinforcement and lateral confinement on the axial capacity of short partially grouted concrete masonry walls built in running bond. In order to better understand the structural behaviour of both confined and unconfined concrete masonry, it is important to have some knowledge of the load-displacement behaviour, stress-strain behaviour and failure modes of the masonry walls with different configurations of vertical and lateral reinforcement. An experimental study was performed to investigate the behaviour of partially grouted concrete masonry block walls under axial loading. Three types of test specimens of partially grouted concrete block masonry walls were tested: (1) specimens with a grouted core only; (2) specimens with a grouted core and vertical reinforcement (i.e. no confinement); and (3) specimens with a grouted core, vertical reinforcement and spiral confinement in the grouted cores. In total, thirty short wall specimens were tested to failure. The structural behaviour of vertically reinforced, laterally confined walls was compared to vertically reinforced, unconfined walls, as well as to unreinforced, unconfined masonry walls. The test results indicated that vertical reinforcement of the grouted core did not have a significant positive effect on the failure modes and strength of the short masonry walls. Due to problems with adequate compaction, the lateral confinement provided by the spiral reinforcement had a slightly negative effect on the compressive strength of concrete masonry walls built in running bond. Vertical reinforcement and lateral confinement of the grouted core had some positive effect on the ductility. From a comparison of the ductility for all three types of specimens it was found that both the vertical reinforcement and lateral confinement of the core had a beneficial influence on the post-peak ductility. In general, similar crack patterns and failure modes were observed in all three types of specimens. Vertical cracks that progressed through the end faces of the concrete blocks and mortar joints, suggesting that the lateral expansion of the grouted core contributed to tensile splitting stresses in walls. All walls failed in a compression-tension stress state, which featured spalling away of the block shells and vertical tensile splitting on the end faces.



axial capacity, vertical reinforcement, lateral confinement, partially grouted, concrete masonry, running bond



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering


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