The paper presents the test description and results of thermal bowing of RC beams exposed to non-uniform heating at high temperature. Bending of a non-uniformly heated element is caused by free thermal elongation of the material it is made of. The higher the temperature gradient, the greater the bending. In the case when an element is exposed to load and high temperature simultaneously, apart from free bending also deformation of the RC element may occur, which is caused by the decrease of the concrete or reinforcing steel mechanical properties. In order to examine the contribution of the deflection caused by thermal bowing to the total deformation of the bent element with a heated tension zone, an experimental study of freely heated (unloaded) beams was performed. RC beams were heated: (1) on three sides of the cross-section or (2) only on the bottom side. Deflection of elements loaded by a substitute temperature gradient was calculated using the Maxwell–Mohr formula. The test results show that deflection of freely heated RC beams (caused by the thermal bowing phenomenon) can be 10 to 20% of the total deflection of loaded RC beams with a heated tension zone.
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