Rocking bridge piers equipped with shape memory alloy (SMA) washer springs

Cheng Fang, Dong Liang, Yue Zheng, Michael C.H. Yam, Ruiqin Sun

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of rocking bridge piers provides the community of civil engineers with a broader vision of next-generation seismic-resilient bridge design. This study introduces a new type of shape memory alloy (SMA) washer spring-based self-centering rocking (SCR) systems which could be an important addition to the existing rocking pier family. The proposed system combines the advantage of the existing rocking pier solution with extra benefits such as simplified construction, excellent fatigue and corrosion resistance, and extra “locking mechanism” which safely prevents the pier from excessive rocking. The working principle of the SCR piers is discussed first, and five tests are subsequently carried out on proof-of-concept SCR pier specimens. This is followed by a further numerical study examining an extended range of design parameters. The SCR pier shows excellent self-centering capability with minimal damage to the pier, which is attributed to the intended gap-opening deformation mode. Moderate energy dissipation is offered by the SMA washer springs, and once they are fully flattened, further drift is provided by the flexural deformation of the pier itself. The SMA washers can be used repeatedly with no need for repair/replacement, and the highly flexible stack pattern caters to different design objectives and requirements. An effective supplementary source of energy dissipation is enabled by installing steel angles at the gap opening interface. The experimental and numerical investigations provide a strong proof of feasibility of this innovative structural system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110651
JournalEngineering Structures
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Belleville washer springs
  • Cyclic performance
  • Rocking bridge pier
  • Seismic resilience
  • Self-centering
  • Shape memory alloy (SMA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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