Prestressed concrete is a form of concrete used in construction which is "pre-stressed" by being placed under compression prior to supporting any loads beyond its own dead weight. This compression is produced by the tensioning of high-strength "tendons" located within or adjacent to the concrete volume, and is done to improve the performance of the concrete in service. Tendons may consist of single wires, multi-wire strands or threaded bars, and are most commonly made from high-tensile steels, carbon fiber or aramid fiber. The essence of prestressed concrete is that once the initial compression has been applied, the resulting material has the characteristics of high-strength concrete when subject to any subsequent compression forces, and of ductile high-strength steel when subject to tension forces. This can result in improved structural capacity and/or serviceability compared to conventionally reinforced concrete in many situations. In pre-stressed concrete member, the internal stressses are introduced in a planned matter so that the stresses resulting from the superimposed loads are counter-acted in a desired degree.
Prestressed concrete is used in a wide range of building and civil structures where its improved performance can allow longer spans, reduced structural thicknesses, and material savings compared to simple reinforced concrete. Typical applications include high-rise buildings, residential slabs, foundation systems, bridge and dam structures, silos and tanks, industrial pavements and nuclear containment structures.