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What is the purpose of critical steel ratio in concrete structures?

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The purpose of critical steel ratio is to control the cracking pattern by having concrete failing in tension first. If steel reinforcement yields first before the limit of concrete tensile strength is reached, then wide and few cracks would be formed. In the calculation of critical steel ratio, the thickness of the whole concrete section is adopted for analysis.

However, if the concrete section exceeds 500mm in thickness, only the outer 250mm concrete has to be considered in calculating minimum reinforcement to control thermal and shrinkage cracks. It is because experimental works showed that for concrete section greater than 500mm, the outer 250mm on each face could be regarded as surface zone while the remaining could be regarded as core. The minimum reinforcement to control cracking should therefore be calculated based on a total maximum thickness of 500mm.

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This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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