High-performance self-centering steel columns with shape memory alloy bolts: Design procedure and experimental evaluation

Bin Wang, Songye Zhu, Can Xing Qiu, Hao Jin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Steel moment-resisting frames are popular structural systems used extensively around the world. However, conventional column base connections are vulnerable to large residual deformation after strong earthquakes. By contrast, shape memory alloys (SMAs), which are high-performance metallic materials, can experience large strains and still recover their initial shape through either heating (shape memory effect) or unloading (superelastic effect). The superelastic behavior of SMAs is appealing to the earthquake engineering community because of the material's excellent self-centering (SC) and energy dissipation capabilities. In this paper, a novel type of steel columns equipped with NiTi SMA bolts was introduced and its potential for achieving earthquake resilience were investigated. Structural details of the column base and mechanical properties of the SMA bolts were described first. Subsequently, an analytical model of the SC column for different limit states and the corresponding design procedure were presented. The seismic behaviors of two steel column specimens were experimentally tested to investigate the effects of the initial prestrain in the SMA bolts and the axial compressive force in the column under cyclic loading. Results showed that the steel columns equipped with SMA bolts exhibited satisfactory and stable flag-shaped hysteresis loops with excellent SC and moderate energy dissipation capabilities. More importantly, SMA bolts with prestrain could still be tightened after removal of lateral force. Therefore, the proposed SC column could achieve seismic resilience design that requires no (or minimal) repair even after strong earthquakes and remains highly functional for aftershocks or future earthquakes. In addition, the analytical model was verified through a comparison with test results obtained at key limit states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-458
Number of pages13
JournalEngineering Structures
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Column base
  • Earthquake resilience
  • Flag-shaped hysteresis loop
  • Rocking
  • Self-centering
  • Shape memory alloy
  • Steel frame
  • Superelastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering

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