Performance Evaluation of RC Flexural Elements Strengthened by Advanced Composites

  • Eftychia Andreou

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The flexural performance of composite systems made of reinforced concrete, Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRPs) and adhesives was studied during the current research. The experimental investigation was principally concentrated on the potential use of Kevlar® 49 (aramid fibre) for RC beam strengthening.

    The main aims of research have been; (a) to investigate the relative merits of using Aramids in comparison to other FRPs, (b) strength optimisation of systems to prevent excessive losses of ductility, (c) to examine the failure mode and crack patterns, together with salient strength factors at ultimate limit state and (d) to carry out analytical modelling using a commercial FE package.

    The experimental investigation comprised of testing 55 simply supported RC beams of either 1.5m or 2.6m length. In addition to the parametric studies included in points (a)-(d) above (to assess the section characteristics), further experimentation was conducted to investigate the beam performance by varying the factors of; (e) beam shear span, (f) FRP anchorage length, (g) concrete surface preparation, (h) FRP end-anchoring, (i) beam precracking, (j) introduction of air-voids within the bond line of FRP/concrete, (k) influence of cyclic loading and, (1) exposure to aggressive environment.

    The results from current tests confirm elements of reports from other researchers (by thorough review of literature) that all FRPs have great potential for flexural strengthening of RC members. This is valid even in cases where additional environmental degradation and/or cracking (due to serviceability loads), had taken place. Aramid fibres were found to result in favourable outcomes concerning both strength and ductility enhancements. It was determined, both from experiments and non-linear modelling, that the amount of FRP fibre content is an important factor in every strengthening application. Experimentation showed that depending on the existing condition of the structure (concrete strength, internal reinforcement ratio, section dimensions, degradation level and load configuration), there seems to be a unique level of optimum fibre content. The FRP levels in excess of the optimum were seen to lead to premature brittle tearing-off failure modes. It was also found that to prevent premature beam failure (due to incompatibility of stress at concrete and FRP interface), a maximum possible anchorage length should be considered in order to deliver an optimum section performance.

    The results from the analytical modelling indicated a most satisfactory agreement with the experimental data after the initial mechanical properties were calibrated. It was found that actual representation of material properties (e.g. steel constitutive law) are of great significance, for an accurate modelling of RC element loaded behaviour.

    The bond developed between the FRP and concrete is one of the key parameters for achieving good performance of the systems. It was determined that concrete surface preparation and priming is beneficial, while the introduction of air-voids due to poor workmanship can reduce the section load bearing capabilities. Cyclic loading on FRP strengthened sections was found to curtail the full rotational capacity utilisation of the beam. However, even the above mentioned curtailed behaviour was more advantageous than cyclically loaded beam performance without FRP strengthening.
    Date of AwardDec 2002
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRamiz Delpak (Supervisor), Kenneth Pugh (Supervisor) & David Tann (Supervisor)


    • Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRP)
    • Aramid, Carbon and Glass Composites
    • Reinforced Concrete
    • Flexure
    • Strengthening
    • Retrofitting
    • Deformability
    • Failure Modes
    • Over/Under Strengthening
    • Optimisation
    • Shear Span
    • Anchorage Length
    • Bond Imperfections
    • Cyclic Loading
    • practical considerations
    • FE Modelling

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