Masonry walls are a widely used form of construction in the Australian building industry. During the past decade new systems of masonry construction have become available which forego the traditional requirement of mortaring joints during assembly of the wall. This departure from previous systems of masonry construction gives rise to questions regarding the behaviour of these walls as a stand-alone design and in comparison to the traditional system. An analytical review of these wall systems was undertaken with the use of finite element software.
This task was undertaken by modelling Smart Masonry and conventional masonry wall systems in FEM analysis to achieve a number of research objectives. This was to correlate between analytical results and observed failure; to determine differences between conventional and dry-stacked behaviour under load; and to approximate the practical way in which masonry walls are constructed. To build accurate models, relevant material properties and dimensions were found for conventional masonry and Smart Masonry walls. Various scenarios were established to model practical construction situations and their effects on the capacity of masonry walls to accommodate load. Results were interpreted from contour plots and graphs.
The results gathered from the finite element model addressed the research objectives. It was found that there was a clear correlation between stresses that to lead to failure and stresses from the plots produced by the model. It was found that grout in the bed joint of Smart Masonry decreased stresses, while mortar intrusions in the core of conventional masonry increased stresses. Overall it Smart Masonry appeared to handle stresses in a better manner than the conventional masonry system. The Smart Masonry system had lower lateral stresses and more distributed load paths, while conventional masonry had higher concentrated stress points and more disjointed load paths. The data gathered from the model appeared to have high integrity, and no systematic errors were found