Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Amit H. Varma

Committee Member 1

Arun Prakash

Committee Member 2

Robert J. Connor

Committee Member 3

Vikas Tomar


The structural behavior and design of steel-plate composite (SC) nuclear power plant structures has been an active research area in recent years. The use of SC construction in new power plants is part of a trend in the industry towards more economical construction through increased use of modularization and prefabrication. Power plant structures are constructed with numerous structural walls that make up the external shield building, internal shield walls, and additional walls within the containment internal structure. Thorough understanding of the structural behavior of these walls and systems of connected walls is important since they are typically designed as the primary lateral force resisting system of the power plant. The objective of this research is to provide insight into the structural behavior from the perspective of the overall structural system. Prior research has studied the mechanical behavior of SC structural members (beams, shear walls, bearing walls, connections, etc.) in detail. This research aims to apply the information currently known about the fundamental behavior of SC structural members to the analysis of complete SC structural systems. Since full-scale testing of complete SC structures is impractical and expensive, this study uses a benchmarked finite element modeling approach to analyze and study the behavior of whole structures.