Elastic lateral stability of I-shaped cellular steel beams

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75 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, the lateral stability of cellular steel beams is numerically investigated. The study is carried out using three-dimensional finite element modeling of simply supported I-shaped cellular steel beams with a broad spectrum of cross-sectional dimensions, span lengths and web perforation configurations. Stability analyses are carried out for beams subjected to equal end moments, mid-span concentrated loads and uniformly distributed loads. Finite element results reveal that, unlike the case of conventional beams with solid webs, the moment-gradient coefficient Cb is significantly influenced by the beam geometry and slenderness. In addition, the Cb coefficient of cellular beams depends on the web perforation configuration. Moment-gradient coefficient values that fluctuate closely to those values recommended by design codes are associated with pure elastic lateral torsional buckling (LTB) deformations. As the beam slenderness decreases, the web distortion increases, leading to the lateral distortional buckling (LDB) mode, which is associated with lower Cb values than code-recommended ones. Severe reduction in the Cb coefficient to values less than 1.1 is noticed for shorter-span beams where the response is dominated by non-lateral local buckling modes. A simplified approach is developed to enable accurate prediction of a moment modification factor κLB for cellular beams. The proposed κLB factor is provided by an empirical formula that is derived based on the best fit of the finite element results related to lateral buckling (LTB and LDB) modes only. The proposed approach allows for accurate and conservative evaluation of the critical moment associated with the lateral torsional/distortional buckling of cellular beams. Several numerical examples are worked out to illustrate the application of the proposed procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-163
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Constructional Steel Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Cellular
  • Finite element
  • Lateral torsional buckling
  • Perforated
  • Steel beams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Metals and Alloys


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