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Mechanics of Composite Materials, Vol. 44, No.

3, 2008

STRENGTHENING OF RC BEAMS WITH AN INNOVATIVE TIMBER-FRP COMPOSITE SYSTEM

N. Mazzon,* M. Guadagnini,** and M. R. Valluzzi***

Keywords: beam, FRP, timber, strengthening, serviceability limit state, deflection, crack width, flexural behaviour The results of a theoretical and experimental research project on the use of an innovative technique for strengthening concrete beams are presented. A spacer element is inserted between the tension side of a beam and the composite material to increase its lever arm and to enhance the overall stiffness of the strengthened beam. The main aim of this exploratory project was to increase the ultimate failure load of strengthened beam specimens, whilst guaranteeing acceptable overall deflections at the serviceability limit states. This resulted into a significant reduction in the amount of FPR required and in a better utilization of the materials employed. A preliminary theoretical study was carried out to investigate the effect of Young’s modulus, failure strain, and thickness of the element to be used as a spacer in order to determine the best possible candidate material. Three tests on 2.5-m-long beams were carried out, and different anchorage techniques were used to try and prevent the debonding of the strengthening system. The results from this pilot study are very promising, as the strengthening system ensures an adequate initial stiffness along with an improved ultimate flexural capacity.

Introduction The flexural strengthening of RC structures by externally bonding a FRP reinforcement to their tension side has become a well-established procedure, and it is often preferred to more conventional strengthening techniques. Several performance issues, especially concerning serviceability conditions, however, require the use of large amounts of external reinforcement to ensure that deflection and cracking requirements are met. Thin can often result in an uneconomical use of strengthening materials and yield an undesired, or unintentional, large increase in the ultimate capacity of an element or structure, which needs to be considered carefully, because it might affect or alter its ultimate failure mode. The new strengthening technique discussed in this paper attempts to address the above-mentioned issues by using a combination of purposely chosen materials, so as to optimally exploit their mechanical properties. A spacer is positioned between the beam and the external reinforcement to provide the necessary stiffness at the serviceability limit state (SLS) and to improve the performance at the ultimate limit state (ULS), owing mainly to the resulting increased lever arm of internal forces. The effects of mechanical properties of the material to be used as a spacer were investigated in a preliminary feasibility study. The cost and availability of candidate materials were

*Department of Civil Engineering, University of Padua, Italy. **Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield, UK. ***Department of Civil Engineering, University of Padua, Italy. Russian translation published in Mekhanika Kompozitnykh Materialov, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 403-416, May-June, 2008. Original article submitted August 20, 2007; revision submitted April 4, 2008.

0191-5665/08/4403-0279 © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.

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The transition between the two stages is marked by a sudden drop in the resisted moment. and the internal bending moment is resisted only by the compressed concrete and the stretched FRP. Craig et al. whilst the use of mechanical connectors may result in the development of critical stress concentrations. Although a relative slip between the materials used. yet allowing much greater deflections. as well as within the materials. When the maximum strain in the spacer reaches its ultimate value. the higher bending moments 280 . the material. For low levels of applied load. as the FRP cannot accommodate higher values of moment before the crushing of concrete. 2). Sectional analysis. After the rupture of spacer. the bending stiffness of the element increases. Thus. Although the system investigated differs from those used in other applications. leading to a strain discontinuity at the timber-concrete interface. was noticed due to the fatigue damage. the ultimate strain of the spacer material. [1] conducted a study on the strengthening of glulam beams with concrete and FRP and reported that the ability of the glulam beam to transfer shear stresses was critical in guaranteeing a successful application of this technique. [2] studied the behaviour of FRP-glulam-concrete bridge girders. needs to be controlled. and FRPs can significantly enhance the overall structural performance of an element. One of the main concerns when combining different layers of structural materials is guaranteeing the development of an adequate composite action. Brody et al. a linear elastic analysis was considered to be appropriate. In addition. The geometrical and mechanical properties of the strengthening system investigated through the implementation of a sectional analysis were the spacer thickness. 3. The spacer material must be stiff enough to control the deflection of the strengthened beam and light enough to limit the amount of the additional weight. no significant loss in the ultimate capacity or ductility was observed. for which the ultimate load is similar to the load that induces failure of the spacer. and smaller overall deflections are observed. Theoretical Investigation A preliminary analysis was conducted to investigate the influence of various parameters that can affect the overall behaviour of a reinforced concrete beam strengthened with the timber-FRP system proposed here. Figure 1 shows the moment–curvature diagram for a cross-section of a beam strengthened with a timber-FRP element. the magnitude of the shear stresses developed at the interface layers. An appropriate combination of the geometry and mechanical properties of the spacer with the amount of FRP reinforcement can result in the development of a pseudo-ductile behaviour of the beam. the increase in the ultimate moment can be attributed only to the higher lever arm. Timber was selected for this project and was used as a spacer material for the beams tested during the experimental programme reported here. important insights can be gained by examining the available literature on the use of FRPs in combination with timber and concrete. A stiffer spacer material would allow a greater control of deflections under service conditions. Young’s modulus. The gain in the service load was estimated to be about 500% over that of conventional noncomposite timber beams. The effect of the level of strain that can be developed in the spacer material before failure was also examined. but would result in a brittle-like behaviour (see Fig. a nonlinear finite-element analysis was carried out to gain additional insights into the ultimate behaviour of the strengthened element and to investigate the effect of spacer geometry on the distribution of stresses along the end anchorage regions. The higher the ultimate strains mobilized in the spacer. Results of the two studies mentioned above have shown that the use of a combination of concrete.also taken into account. and the results obtained are summarized in Fig. Brunner [3] studied the influence of various types of timber-concrete connections and concluded that adhesive connections allow a better distribution of shear stresses over a larger surface. timber. if the relative slip of concrete-timber is eliminated by using adhesive connections. As the primary objective of this simple analysis was to determine the required stiffness provided by a spacer to effectively control deflections under service loads. which was modelled according to a brittle elastic formulation. along with a rapid increase in the curvature of the section. A theoretical increase of about 500% in the bending moment capacity of the strengthened beam was estimated if full composite actions could be ensured. which must provide a sufficient stiffness and effectively limit the curvature and deflections. and the amount of FRP. fails. Moreover. the overall behaviour of the beam is controlled mainly by the nature of the spacer material.

5 Fig. and FRP) was investigated by means of a nonlinear finite-element analysis. 25 (2). 10-5. The efficiency of a strengthening used is generally limited by the onset of end-debonding phenomena. timber. show stress distributions for two different spacer geometries at a load that induced a stress state along the end zones of the strengthening 281 .0 (3). Moment–curvature diagrams M rd –k at different spacer thicknesses s: 0 (1).m 6 5 4 3 2 1 . 4) and spacer thickness.140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Mrd. kN. 50 (3). kN. for example. can be sustained by the strengthened element. On the basis of the parametric study mentioned above. The effect of spacer shape on the stress distribution in structural materials (concrete.0 (2). 150 Mrd. 2. 125 mm (6). and a pseudo-ductile behaviour can be achieved by ensuring a sufficient capacity of the beam after the rupture of the spacer. 5. If Young’s modulus of the spacer is relatively high.0 (4).0 GPa (5). 75 (4).5 1.5 3. 15. in turn. which. Finite-element analysis. 10. The results of this study show that the amount and type of FRP significantly affect the behaviour of a strengthened element only beyond its serviceability range.5 2.m E = 20 GPa 15 100 10 5 50 0 k. can be affected by the geometry of the strengthening system and the quality of its connection to the existing RC element. a 10-cm-high timber spacer (softwood C16) was selected for use in a combination with three layers of CFRP. The FRP reinforcement can thus be designed primarily to meet requirements for the ultimate limit state. 10-5. Figures 5 and 6. 1. The performance of systems using spacers with a constant thickness was assessed and compared with that of systems using spacers with a variable thickness. The same at different Young's modulus E of the spacer: 0 (1). The optimum value of ultimate strain that can be developed in the spacer should allow an adequate control of deflections within the service range and lead to a smaller area of FRP needed to achieve a predetermined level of strengthening. mm-1 0 0. The amount of FRP was optimized by analysing various combinations of the amount and type of FRP (see Fig.mm -1 1 2 3 4 Fig. 100 (5). the failure strain yields a better performance.no spacer k. 20.

-) — without FRP.5 and 124.35 (compression) 1. 282 . (.002 k.720 10 17 0. 5 (6). mm-1 1 2 3 4 Fig. 0.003 (s = 0) (1).125 (tension) – systems that was considered critical for the ripe-off failure. Mechanical Characteristics of the Materials Employed Young’s modulus.001 (2).m n=5 4 3 2 1 k. 0.5 N for the systems with spacers of constant and variable thickness.004 (5). TABLE 1. respectively. 1 (2). 3. 2 (3).. 0. a spacer of variable thickness was used in the experimental programme described in the following. 10-5. The same at different numbers n of FRP layers: 0 (1).140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Mrd.14 3. The reduction in the stiffness of the strengthening systems towards the supports allowed a better distribution of stresses in the element and the development of a load 40% higher than that in the case of the spacer of conctant thickness. 4.003 (4). Therefore. GPa Concrete FRP Timber Adhesive 32 240 8 – Strength. % Compressive 30 – 2. 10-5.2 85 Tensile 1. 90 70 50 30 10 0 Mrd.m eu = 0. kN.004 0. These critical states developed at 90. 0. 3 (4).002 (3). mm-1 1 2 3 4 5 Fig. kN.6 (tension) 0. MPa Failure strain.003 0. The same at different values of the ultimate strain e u : 0.

Both the beams were pre-cracked during the initial phase and then repaired by attaching a timber-FRP system to their tension side. a). An analysis of strain gauge readings showed that a full composite action was guaranteed up to about 80 kN.15%.à b Fig. 5.5kN. 6) were subjected to two consecutive phases of testing. shaped as shown in Fig. Although. which corresponded to only a fraction of the strain that could be taken up in the composite material. which occurred at about 124 kN (Fig. Experimental Investigation Two RC beams with a rectangular cross-section 150 mm wide and 250 mm high and a total length of 2500 mm (Fig. The mechanical characteristics of all the structural materials used during the experimental phase of this project are presented in Table 1. and with spacer of variable thickness and FRP (124. The strengthening comprised a spacer (timber class C16). the performance of the strengthening solution was limited 283 . along with three layers of CFRP reinforcement. The experimental deflections of the strengthened beam were by about 60% smaller than those of the unstrengthened one. Distribution of stresses s 22 in an element strengthened with a spacer of constant thickness and FRP (95. whilst linear variable differential transducers (LVDTs) were employed to measure deflections at different locations along the beam. as expected.5kN. 11). The load–deflection response of beam SB6a was linear up to failure. b). 7) by concrete rip-off (Fig. The maximum strain measured in the CFRP at failure was about 0. The beams were tested in four-point bending. The strains in the internal and external reinforcement were monitored using electric strain gauges. 6.

3% was measured in the CFRP reinforcement. The failure of beam SB6a-r occurred through the crushing of concrete. 8 and 12). resulting in large deformations at the ultimate state. as detailed in Fig. giving an ample warning of incipient failure (Figs. the results of the first test provided evidence that the strengthening system can control the deflections at the SLS efficiently. The CFRP straps located along the end zone of the strengthening element prevented the progression of the rip-off failure and allowed the test specimen to carry an additional load. a maximum strain of 0. The load–deflection behaviour of beam SB6b is shown in Fig. 250 200 P. mm 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Fig. Beam SB6a was then redesigned as SB6a-r and subjected to an additional testing phase. Specimen geometry. After the debonding initiated. Based on the results of the previous tests. resulting in a sudden drop in the sustained load. kN SB6b SB6a-r 150 100 50 SB6 (pre-cracking) D.7 6 1 8 4 3 5 9 2 Fig. 6. deflections increased very rapidly. pre-tensioned steel strips were used to strengthen beam SB6b in shear and to ensure adequate anchorage for the flexural strengthening element. Debonding of the strengthening system of the beam initiated at about 150 kN. a strain level of 0. — strain gauge. The vertical CFRP strips prevented the cracks from extending towards the upper face of the concrete beam. The strips were positioned along the shear spans. 1 — timber spacer. and lay-out of the instrumentation (all dimensions in mm): 1-9 — LVDT. At failure. 7. On the basis of the preliminary theoretical analysis. Load–displacement diagrams P–D of tested specimens: 5 — concrete rip-off and l — slip of the strengthening system. vertical CFRP strips were attached to the end of the timber spacer of beam SB6a to restore its integrity and to avoid the rip-of failure mode. by the occurrence of debonding. test set-up. At this level of load. the strengthening system started to slip. 13. up to 190 kN. 8. After this testing phase. The deflection at the midspan increased linearly up 284 . 2 — FRP reinforcement.38% would have been reached if full composite action had developed up to failure.

Development the strain e in the external FRP reinforcement for beams SB6b (strengthened with timber-FRP) and CB0 (plate-bonded).250 200 P. were mobilized adequately. however. some debonding occurred. The plate used for strengthening beam CB0 was 100 mm wide and 1. As in the previous tests.4 mm thick and had an elastic modulus of 200 GPa. 250 200 P. At loads of about 170 and 185 kN. 9. and when an adequate anchorage was provided at the end zones. The metal straps. Beam SB6b failed at 210 kN (an increase of about 40% over the theoretical ultimate capacity of the unstrengthened beam) by crushing of concrete (Fig. 13). the loss of composite action was observed at a load of about 80 kN. 8. the latter being an equivalent RC beam strengthened in flexure with a CFRP plate bonded to its soffit [4]. and the local debonding of the external element did not compromise the efficiency of the strengthening applied. thus yielding an equivalent area of CFRP more than three times larger than that used to strengthen beam SB6b. kN SB6b CB0 SB6b SLS CB0 SLS 150 100 50 D. The use of the timber-FRP system examined in this study assisted successfully in controlling the overall deflections under serviceability loads. kN SB6b CB0 150 100 50 me 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 Fig.bonded). causing a sudden increase in deflection. 285 . accompanied by a decrease in the strain transferred along the CFRP. when cracks started to occur at both ends of the strengthening element. Comparison with the “Conventional” Plate Bonding Figure 9 shows a comparison between the load–displacement behavior of beams SB6b and CB0. mm 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Fig. it ensured a sufficient increase in the load-carrying capacity. along with a ductile deformation behaviour. The same for beam SB6a (strengthened with timber-FRP) and CB0 (plate. to about 170 kN.

Both the beams failed owing to crushing of concrete in compression. fib bulletin 14 [6]. Concrete rip-off failure of beam SB6a. 9 shows that the timber-FRP strengthening system resulted in a better performance within the service range. “Design manual no. 286 .Fig. allowing the specimen to develop a more ductile behaviour and achieve a higher ultimate load than that recorded for beam CB0. illustrates the development of strain in the composite reinforcement of the two beams measured at the section under one of the point loads. A comparison of the strain developed in the external reinforcement of both the beams provides additional evidence that the use of the timber spacer allowed us to take advantage of the superior mechanical properties of the CFRP reinforcement. An analysis of Fig.” prepared by ISIS Canada [7]. 11. the values of strain measured at corresponding load levels along the FRP reinforcement of beam SB6b were generally lower than those of beam CB0. Figure 10. for example. In addition. Higher strain values (up to 40%) were eventually mobilized in the CFRP reinforcement of beam SB6b. As for the measured deflections. 4. after their flexural capacity was reached. Debonding of the timber-FRP strengthening system in beam SB6a-r at the ultimate load (194 kN). and ACI 440. Performance of the New Strenghtening System at the SLS The performance of beam SB6b under service conditions was assessed against the current recommendations for the design of RC elements with an externally bonded FRP reinforcement to verify the ability of the timber-FRP system proposed to control the overall deflections. the service load of beam SB6b was about 16% higher than that of beam CB0. Fig.2R-02 [9]. 10. Technical Report 55 of the Concrete Society [8]. The design recommendations considered in this analysis included: CNR-DT 200/2004 [5].

Table 2 summarizes the design limit values. which is in line with the average of the load factors adopted by the design recommendations reviewed here. mm 5.976 £2. · The use of a spacer and the resulting increase in the lever arm of internal forces can lead to a significant reduction in the amount of FRP required to satisfy the strengthening requirements desired.6 £18 £18 £18 £18 £18 FRP 480 £2.2 Stress limit.41 Service Tests CNR [5] fib [6] ISIS [7] TR55 [8] ACI [9] The service load was 1. mm Steel 184 £322 £368 £368 £368 £368 Concrete 17. yielding a value of about 140 kN. and service stresses. in terms of midspan deflection. 12.30 £0. 287 .5 times smaller than the ultimate load recorded during the test.2 £9.30 £0. The value of 1. TABLE 2.2 £9.860 £2.30 £0.2 £9. · The strengthening solution proposed allows a better utilization of the mechanical properties of both the external FRP reinforcement and the existing RC beam at the ultimate limit state. Compression failure of beam SB6b (210 kN). crack width. and verification of a new strengthening system. all serviceability requirements are met when the strengthening system proposed is used. MPa Crack width. the following conclusions can be drawn.976 £1. As can be seen from an analysis of the values reported in this table. Conclusions This study was focused on the development.2 £9.2 £9. Limiting Values at the Serviceability Limit State According to Different Design Recommendations Deflection. as well as the experimental ones. design. · Timber can be used very effectively in combination with FRP to increase the stiffness of strengthened RC elements within the service range and to ensure that all serviceability requirements are met.40 £0.Fig.30 £0.418 – 0.5 was chosen as a representative load factor. Based on an analysis of the theoretical and experimental investigations discussed above.

9. and J. Davids. “Testing and analysis of partially composite fiber-reinforced polymer-glulam-concrete bridge girders. The Concrete Society. the bond-related phenomena are always of primary concern. William. Struct. 6. Technical Report on the Design and Use of Externally Bonded Fibre-Reinforced Polymer Reinforcement (FRP EBR) for Reinforced Concrete Structures. Gerber. Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center. “Anchorage strength models for end debonding prediction in RC beams strengthened with FRP composites. Aknowledgements.. Sao Paulo. C. 55 (2000). 4 — Strengthening Reinforced Concrete Structures with Externally-Bonded Fibre-Reinforced Polymers. C. Design Manual No. K. Comitato Nazionale di Ricerca (CNR). No. D. 7.Although methods to avoid premature debonding of the strengthening system were employed successfully in this work. D. Bridge Eng. A. D. 316-325 (2004).” Structures 2000-103. 2002).” J. 2006). Department of Civil Engineering. 288 . and E. 2. R. Habib.440. 634-640 (1998). Brunner. 8.” J.” Task Group 9. K. International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib). M. Anido. Guide for the Design and Construction of Externally Bonded FRP Systems for Strengthening Concrete Structures — ACI. Ahmadi.” Tesi di laurea. Roma (luglio 2004). 3. Biel-Bienne (July. H. R. No.” Mater.2R-02. ME (2000). Brody. Craig. and effective anchorage solutions have to be devised to optimize the use of any strengthening solution. Istruzioni per la Progettazione. Craig. 119. Campinas.S. Yong Hong. “Bond stress system of composite concrete-timber beams. CNR-DT 200/2004. Nardini.” J. 13. Landis.3 FRP Reinforcement for Concrete Structures. 3. 10. P. l’Esecuzione ed il Controllo di Interventi di Consolidamento Statico mediante l’utilizzo di Compositi Fibrorinforzati. L. M. UNICAMP. University of Maine (May. Iss. 1999). 8. University of Maine. Semirigid Wood-Concrete T-Beams. American Concrete Institute (ACI). University of Padova (September.. A. 1. W. 4. Iss. The Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence on Intelligent Sensing for Innovative Structures (2001). “Non-linear analysis of FRP-glulam-concrete beams with partial composite action. Demarzo and M. Struct. 12. Eng. 10. Technical Report No. “Behaviour of composite timber-concrete floors. J. 2001). Orono. B. Bulletin 14 (July. and M. Struct.. interim report. Eng. M. “FRP-wood-concrete composite bridge girders. V. KTI Projekt 3953.. REFERENCES 1. Design Guidance for Strengthened Concrete Structures Using Fibre Composite Materials. Holz-Beton-Verbundelemente durch die Anwendung von Klebesystemen. Tacitano. Brasil (2002). 9. Capozucca. A. Civil. Wallace. 3111-3130 (1993). 189.1. Thesis for a Degree in MSc in Civil Engineering. Sebesta. William. 5. 14. W. ACI Committee 440 (2002). Dissertation — Fac. W. 4. 127. SWOOD. The authors wish to acknowledge the European Commission for their European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS) and for their financial assistance to the Marie Curie Research Training Network En-Core. de Eng. Richard. Saka. Behaviour of FRP-Reinforced Glulam-Concrete Bridge Girders. 967-971 (2001). G. 11. ISIS Canada.