Novel closed-loop FRP reinforcement for concrete to enhance fire performance
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date10/07/2018
Kiari, Mohamed Ahmed Abubaker
The use of fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) as an internal reinforcement for concrete has many advantages over steel, most notably lack of corrosion which is considered to be a major problem for structures incorporating steel. In Europe alone, it is estimated that the annual repairing and maintenance costs associated with steel corrosion in infrastructure are around £20 billion (Nadjai et al., 2005). Despite of its corrosion resistance, the widespread use of FRP as an internal reinforcement for concrete was hindered due to its relatively weak performance at elevated temperatures, such as in the event of fire. Under heating, the polymer matrix in FRP softens, which causes bond degrading between reinforcement and concrete. The softening of polymer matrices occurs around their glass transition temperatures, which is typically in the range of 65– 150 °C. The sensitivity of FRP bond to temperature is recognised in design guidelines, therefore many advise against utilising FRP as an internal reinforcement for concrete in structures where fire performance is critical. On the other hand, fibres, the other component of FRP, can tolerate temperatures much higher than polymer matrices. This research investigates a new design for FRP internal reinforcement, which exploits the fact that the FRP fibres in general and carbon fibres in particular are capable of sustaining a large proportion of their original strength at high temperatures. Instead of the traditional way of using separate bars, FRP reinforcement was made as closed loops produced through the continuous winding of carbon fibre tows. When the surface bond degrades at elevated temperatures, interaction with concrete can still be provided through bearing at loop ends. The concept of FRP loops was investigated through a series of experimental work. Firstly, the performance of carbon FRP (CFRP) loops was evaluated through a series of push-off tests in which specimens consisting of CFRP loops bridging two concrete cubes were tested in pull-out using hydraulic jacks. Specimens with straight and hooked reinforcement were produced as well for comparison. A total number of 18 specimens were tested at ambient temperature, glass transition temperature (Tg), and above Tg. Results showed that while at ambient temperature there was no distinction in performance. At elevated temperatures, CFRP loops developed strength about three times higher than specimens with straight or hooked bars. Also, while failure mode occurred due to de-bond in the case of straight and hooked reinforcement, rupture failure occurred with CFRP loops. For better demonstration of the concept in more realistic conditions, four-point bending tests were conducted upon 28 beam specimens reinforced either with CFRP loops or straight bars as flexural reinforcement. Beams were tested under monotonic loading at ambient temperature, or under sustained loads with localised heating over the midspan region that contained the reinforcement overlaps. The benefit of CFRP loops became evident in the elevated temperature tests. Beam specimens with spliced straight bars failed due to debonding after a short period (up to 15 minutes) of fire exposure. Conversely, the fire endurance increased four to five times when CFRP loop reinforcement was used. Unlike straight bars, debonding failure was avoided as failure occurred due to reinforcement rupture. The overlap length of the CFRP loops was found to be important in the order for the loop to develop full capacity. Premature failure can occur with short overlap length due to shear off concrete within the overlap zone. The presence of transverse reinforcement increases confinement levels for reinforcement, so the bond failure of straight bars at ambient temperature testing was eliminated when stirrups were provided. However, at elevated temperatures straight bars failed by pull-out even in presence of transverse reinforcement. To facilitate design with CFRP loops, a numerical analysis tool was developed to calculate the bond stress-slip response of reinforcement at ambient and elevated temperatures. A Matlab programme was designed based on a one-dimensional analytical model for steel. The bond law was modified to be used for CFRP reinforcement. Other analytical models from the literature to account for bond degradation with temperature and tensile strength of curved FRP were also utilised. The developed Matlab code has the capability of producing slip, axial stress, and bond stress distribution along reinforcement. The novel FRP loop reinforcement was demonstrated to be a promising solution for enhancing the fire performance of CFRP internal reinforcement at elevated temperatures. It contributes to removing a major obstacle preventing widespread use of FRP-reinforced concrete, and paves the way for CFRP reinforcement to be used in situations where fire performance is critical.