Structural optimization of a thin-shell bridge structure

Evrard Fauche, Sigrid M. Adriaenssens, Jean-Herve Prevost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper demonstrates the use of topology optimization as a design tool for a thin-shell bridge structure. The presented topology optimization algorithm computes the material distribution within the shell while maximizing its overall stiffness for a given volume of material. The optimization routine is coupled to a Finite Element Method and finds its solution using the Fixed Point Iteration method or Picard Iterations. Besides obtaining the optimal shell thickness distribution, the topology optimization routine also suggests the optimal shape. The optimal shape enhances the mechanical behavior of the structure. The results of this study show that after topology optimization, the deck's deflection, the shell's Von Mises stresses, the eigenfrequency of free vibration as well as the deck's bending moments are improved. This study uses a simplified model of the existing steel shell of the Knokke Footbridge as a case study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number164
StatePublished - Jun 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Design tool
  • Finite element
  • Picard iterations
  • Potential energy
  • Reissner-Midlin
  • Thickness distribution
  • Thin shell
  • Topology optimization


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