Optimization of Concrete Beam Bridges : Development of Software for Design Automation and Cost Optimization

University essay from KTH/Bro- och stålbyggnad


Recent advances in the field of computational intelligence have led to a numberof promising optimization algorithms. These algorithms have the potential to findoptimal or near-optimal solutions to complex problems within a reasonable timeframe. Structural optimization is a research field where such algorithms are appliedto optimally design structures.

Although a significant amount of research has been published in the field ofstructural optimization since the 1960s, little of the research effort has been utilizedin structural design practice. One reason for this is that only a small portion ofthe research targets real-world applications. Therefore there is a need to conductresearch on cost optimization of realistic structures, particularly large structureswhere significant cost savings may be possible.

To address this need, a software application for cost optimization of beam bridgeswas developed. The software application was limited to road bridges in concretethat are straight and has a constant width of the bridge deck. Several simplificationswere also made to limit the scope of the thesis. For instance, a rough design ofthe substructure was implemented, and the design of some structural parts wereneglected.

This thesis introduces the subject of cost optimization, treats fundamentaloptimization theory, explains how the software application works, and presents acase study that was carried out to evaluate the application.

The result of the case study suggests a potential for significant cost savings. Yet,the speeding up of the design process is perhaps the major benefit that should inclinedesigners to favor optimization. These findings mean that current optimizationalgorithms are robust enough to decrease the cost of beam bridges compared to aconventional design. However, the software application needs several improvementsbefore it can be used in a real design situation, which is a topic for future research.

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