The use of fibers as mass reinforcement to delay cracking and to improve the strength and the post-cracking performance of reinforced concrete (RC) beams has been well documented. However, issues of common engineering practice about the beneficial effect of steel fibers to the seismic resistance of RC structural members in active earthquake zones have not yet been fully clarified. This study presents an experimental and a numerical approach to the aforementioned question. The hysteretic response of slender and deep steel fiber-reinforced concrete (SFRC) beams reinforced with steel reinforcement is investigated through tests of eleven beams subjected to reversal cyclic loading and numerical analysis using 3D finite element (FE) modeling. The experimental program includes flexural and shear-critical SFRC beams with different ratios of steel reinforcing bars (0.55% and 1.0%), closed stirrups (from 0 to 0.5%), and fibers with content from 0.5 to 3% per volume. The developed nonlinear FE numerical simulation considers well-established relationships for the compression and tensional behavior of SFRC that are based on test results. Specifically, a smeared crack model is proposed for the post-cracking behavior of SFRC under tension, which employs the fracture characteristics of the composite material using stress versus crack width curves with tension softening. Axial tension tests of prismatic SFRC specimens are also included in this study to support the experimental project and to verify the proposed model. Comparing the numerical results with the experimental ones it is revealed that the proposed model is efficient and accurately captures the crucial aspects of the response, such as the SFRC tension softening effect, the load versus deformation cyclic envelope and the influence of the fibers on the overall hysteretic performance. The findings of this study also reveal that SFRC beams showed enhanced cyclic behavior in terms of residual stiffness, load-bearing capacity, deformation, energy dissipation ability and cracking performance, maintaining their integrity through the imposed reversal cyclic tests.
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