Comparison between shape memory alloy seismic restrainers and other bridge retrofit devices

Bassem Andrawes, Reginald Desroches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Strong earthquakes can result in large longitudinal displacements in multiple-frame bridges. This could lead to excessive displacements/openings at the intermediate joints. Bridges with small seat widths are vulnerable to the unseating of their superstructure. Seismic steel restrainers are currently used to limit the joint openings in bridges. However, past earthquakes have shown that restrainer cables have limitations in regards to preventing unseating in bridges. Other devices have been proposed to limit joint displacements, including metallic dampers, viscoelastic dampers, and shape memory alloys (SMAs), which are known for their ability to recover their original shape after being deformed. A sensitivity study and a case study are conducted using computer simulations to compare the effectiveness of SMA retrofit devices with other devices. The results show that the effectiveness of the devices is a function of the characteristics of the bridge frames and the ground motion characteristics. In all cases, the steel restrainer cables were the least effective in limiting joint displacements. The SMA devices have the additional benefit of significantly limiting the residual joint displacement in bridges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-709
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bridge Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 22 2007


  • Bridges
  • Damping
  • Earthquakes
  • Retrofitting
  • Seismic effects
  • Shape memory effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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