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STRUCTURAL TESTING OF STEEL FIBRE REINFORCED CONCRETE

(SFRC) TUNNEL LINING SEGMENTS IN SINGAPORE
1
John Poh , Kiang Hwee Tan2, Graeme Laurence Peterson1, Dazhi Wen1

1
Land Transport Authority, 1, Hampshire Road, Singapore 219428
2
Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260

Keywords: Land Transport Authority; steel fibre reinforced concrete; tests; tunnel segments.

ABSTRACT
The application of steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) in precast tunnel lining design is a
growing trend due to its vast advantages. However, the performance characteristics of the material
and the design procedures are still not well served by both codes and standards.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore sees great potential and prospects in using
SFRC in its Mass Rapid Transit tunnels. It has taken the proactive approach to introduce SFRC
into the tunnel industry in Singapore. LTA has conducted a series of laboratory tests on small scale
samples (cubes, prisms and cylinders) and full size segments with the assistance of National
University of Singapore (NUS) to determine the material and structural properties of SFRC in order
to establish the required performance characteristics and specifications for tunnel lining
applications.
Tests were carried out on SFRC samples and segments with steel fibre content of 30 and 40 kg/m3.
The 28-day characteristic compressive strength was about 60 MPa and the tensile splitting strength
about 4.4 MPa. SFRC samples showed higher flexural tensile strength at first cracking and at small
crack mouth opening displacements. Prototype SFRC segments subjected to a transverse line load
exhibited a more gradual drop in load-carrying capacity after first cracking. The residual strength
was about 90% of the first crack load. SFRC segments subjected to a longitudinal point load also
exhibited more gradual decrease in load carrying capacity after first cracking.

1. INTRODUCTION
For many years, steel fibre-reinforced concrete (SFRC) has been used as shotcrete in the mining
and civil industries, primarily for temporary works. More recently, it has also been used for
permanent segmental lining in prestigious tunnel projects like the Channel Tunnel Rail Link
(CTRL) (King et al. 2001 and Woods et al. 2003) in UK and the Second Heinenoord Tunnel in
Netherlands (Kooiman et al. 1998).
Steel fibres have also been used in conjunction with conventional steel bars as reinforcement for
lining segments. One such example is Barcelona Metro Line 9 in Spain, in which the quantity of
conventional steel bars was reduced by the addition of steel fibres. However, the use of SFRC in
the reinforcement of tunnel segments is still in a relatively early stage, with the design approaches
varying with designers and projects. Lack of a generally accepted design code has in some extent
hindered the full exploitation of this material.

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2. tensile splitting strength and flexural toughness. tunnel segments used by LTA were designed using reinforcing steel bars. 2005). However. eliminating the presence of steel bars would be a more direct and efficient way of reducing the risk. It has recognized the potential of SFRC and the associated benefits of using SFRC in tunnel lining segments (see Table 1). BS EN 12390-6:2002 and BS EN 14651:2005 respectively. Also. 3. In terms of durability. and is taking a proactive approach to introduce SFRC segments into the tunnel industry in Singapore. to investigate the material and structural performance of SFRC and SFRC tunnel segments in anticipation of its use in future underground projects. in collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS). The tests were conducted according to BS EN 12390-3-2002.This paper presents the findings from an effort by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). the LTA Design Criteria requires a service life. compressive strength. 2 . Due to the limited prototype tests done in the world. To achieve this. the steel bars must be protected against corrosion. that is. MATERIAL PROPERTIES A test programme was carried out to ensure that all required properties were examined. Tests were conducted on cubes. prisms and cylinders) and full size segments with NUS to determine the material and structural properties of SFRC and SFRC segments so as to establish the required performance characteristics and specifications for the use of SFRC segments (Schnutgen et al. with appropriate maintenance. of 120 years for all permanent structures. cylinders and prisms (beams) to determine the material properties. LTA has been constantly in earnest search for alternative construction materials. with the increasing price of steel bars and socio-economical demand for a sustainable construction industry. OBJECTIVES OF STUDY Traditionally. Singapore. LTA has therefore conducted a series of laboratory tests on small scale specimens (cubes. The risk of corrosion in regular steel bar reinforced segments could be reduced by following a stringent specification for gaskets and by using low permeability concrete.

In addition to the steel fibres. steel cages are required Steel fibres are added in the mix at the • Requires large land storage area batch plant • Inefficient production rate • No obstruction in the mould • Multiple handling of steel cages • Increased speed of production • Less labour needed • Less land required for storage Handling and • Care must be exercised in • Vacuum pads should be used in handling Erection demoulding. 2001). with a length of 60 mm and diameter of 0.1 Mix Design The concrete mix design shown in Table 2 was adopted from an on going tunnel project which used steel reinforcing bars in the tunnel segments.Comparison of SFRC and Steel Bar Reinforced Concrete Segments in Singapore Steel Bar Reinforced Concrete Steel Fibre Reinforced Concrete Segments Segments Design • Building code. Only design • Large concrete cover (40mm) is guides are available required for durability reason • Steel fibre is multi-directional and evenly distributed throughout the section Manufacturing • Care manufacture and placing of the • No fabrication of steel cage is necessary.75 mm. Table 2 Mix Design Characteristic Strength 60 MPa Cement Content 380 kg/m3 Fine Aggregate Content 576 kg/m3 Coarse Aggregate Content 1292 kg/m3 Admixture Content 1200 – 1400 ml per 100 kg of cement Silica Fume 20 kg/m3 Water / Cement Ratio 0. transportation and and lifting to minimise damage erection as any cracks will • Minor damage will not compromise the compromise the durability durability • Segments repairs required to comply • Steel fibres provide better protection to with durability specifications edges of the segments 3. 12 cubes were tested for 28-day compressive strength. and another 12 cubes for 56-day compressive strength. 35 kg/m3 (Sample B) and 40 kg/m3 (Sample C) were prepared. 3. b. 1 kg of micro polypropylene fibres (PPF) (Duomix Fire M6) was added for every cubic metre of concrete (Shuttleworth. 3 cylinders were tested at 28 days after casting to determine the stress-strain relations under axial compression. 15 cylinders were tested at 28 days to determine the tensile splitting tests. is used for design reinforced concrete yet.35 The steel fibres (Dramix RC-80/60-BN) were of the hooked-end type. For each sample type. c. and 3 . a.2 Specimens and Tests Three sample types with target steel fibre content of 30 kg/m3 (Sample A). Table 1 . Singapore Standard • No national design code for steel fibre CP65.

The specimens were cured with curing compound at the factory until the day of delivery. 15 specimens were tested at the age of 28 days (see Figure 2).2 Tensile Splitting Strength The tensile splitting tests were carried out in accordance to BS EN 12390-6: 2002. 18 prisms were tested at 28 days to determine the flexural strength at first crack (limit of proportionality) and residual flexural tensile strength. The tests were carried out on the 28th and 56th day after casting. The results for Sample B are likely to be in error due to the large standard deviation. The tests included: (a) compression tests on seventy-two 150mm x 150mm x 150mm cubes.3. (b) compression tests on nine φ150mm x 300mm cylinders.64 times the standard deviation. until about 5 days before the day of testing. and kept in a fog room in Workshop 1.4.6 MPa respectively.5 MPa. West Malaysia.8 MPa and 4. most of specimens of Sample Types A and C achieved strengths greater than the specified strength of 60 MPa. 43. NUS.7 and 68. The standard deviation was about the same for all sample types. Again. The loading rate was between 135 to 180 kN/min (0. At 28th day (see Figure 1a).33 MPa/s was applied. Sample C shows a slightly higher strength than Sample A due to a higher steel fibre content. and delivered to NUS for testing. which was unexpected as they had steel content between those of Samples A and C. the compressive strengths of Sample A and C were similar at about 70 MPa.6.2 MPa respectively. At 56th day (see Figure 1b).3. 48. the characteristic 28-day compressive strengths of Samples A. The characteristic 56-day compressive strength of Samples A.042 MPa/s). B and C are 57. The inferiority of Sample B is consistently seen in other properties as reported herein. 4 . respectively. 3. that is the strength such that only 5% of test specimens would have lower strengths. B and C is 64. B and C. (c) tensile splitting tests on forty-five φ150mm x 300mm cylinders.3 Test Results and Discussion 3. All specimens were made using a single plant batch for each sample type in a precast factory in Johor. 3. .1 Compressive strength The compression tests were conducted in accordance with BS EN 12390-3:2002. The characteristic tensile splitting strength is about 4.4 and 60. It was much lower for Sample B due to a corresponding lower compressive strength as reported in the earlier section. and (d) flexural toughness tests on fifty-four 150mm x 150mm x 550mm prisms. For each sample type. d.032 to 0. Defining the characteristic strength as the average strength minus 1. A loading rate of 450 kN/min or 0. One of the reasons for this could be due to improper mixing of SFRC for Sample B specimens. the strength of Sample B was lower. The tensile splitting strength was slightly higher for Sample A than for Sample C. Specimens of Sample Type B however had strengths lower than 60 MPa.3 MPa respectively for Sample A.

Figure 1 – Cube Compressive Strength 5 .

For each sample type (A. The values of CMOD1. The load-CMOD curves of these representative specimens are compared in Figure 3. fR1. fR. B and C respectively. 6 . B and C).3 Flexural Toughness Tests were carried out in accordance to BS EN 14651:2005 to determine the flexural tensile strength of SFRC.5 mm.3 and fR.5 and 3. fR. Based on these values.4 [corresponding to CMODj (j = 1. The difference in steel fibre content among the three sample types was too small to result in any significance difference in the load-CMOD curves. 2.2.3.1 and fR. 2. 1.2 mm/min after cracking. fR. The crack mouth opening displacement (CMOD) was measured at a rate of 0. 4)]. 3. The limit of proportionality (LOP) [which corresponds to the flexural tensile strength at first crack] and the residual flexural tensile strengths fR1. fR.2.2. 18 specimens were tested at the age of 27 or 28 days. CMOD2.5. The values of fR. Sample A exhibited the highest average values for LOP.5. fR. specimens A1-12.4 were however highest for Sample B. The average values of LOP.3 and fR. Figure 2 – Tensile Splitting Strength 3. were determined.5 mm/min before cracking and 0.3 and fR.4 are shown in Table 3. CMO3 and CMOD4. B1-3 and C1-3 were identified as the average curves for Samples A. were taken as 0.

In addition to laboratory sample testing.1 Test Programme The flexural test was specified to investigate the load carrying capacity. FA1 to FA3. There would be 7 nos. respectively. namely flexural and cantilever load tests were carried out. Figure 3 – Comparison Of Load-CMOD Curves Table 3 – Average Flexural Tensile Strength 4. and the height of the segment about 600 mm.50 m. STRUCTURAL PERFORMANCE OF SFRC SEGMENTS It was envisaged that a typical SFRC rail tunnel in Singapore would have an internal diameter of 5. of 48o ordinary segments and 1 no. Each segment would have a uniform thickness of 350 mm and a width of 1400 mm. 7 .8 m and an external diameter of 6. and steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) with steel fibre content of 30 kg/m3 and 40 kg/m3. The test programme comprised of three specimens each of conventional plain concrete. They were designated FP1 to FP3. 4. of 24o bolt key in each tunnel lining. The clear distance between the inner straight edges was approximately 2359 mm. Each segment weighed about 3.3 tons. and FB1 to FB3. Two tests. a study was also undertaken on the ordinary SFRC segments to assess the load carrying capacity.

Loads were applied at midspan of the segment. An incremental load of 10KN was applied each time. The test programme comprised of three specimens each of conventional plain concrete. An incremental load of 10 kN was applied each time.Flexural test set-up and instrumentation Cantilever load test was set up to investigate the load carrying capacity at the circumferential edge.Each segment was supported on two straight edges as shown in Figure 4. 8 . and steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) with steel fibre content of 30 kg/m3 and 40 kg/m3. respectively. The segments were checked and noted for crack or structural distress at each increment. CA1 to CA3. One of the roller supports was restrained horizontally and the other was not restrained. Figure 5 shows the setup of the test. They were designated CP1 to CP3. The deflections at midspan were measured by dial gauges. Movement of the segment was monitored by gauges (at least 3 locations). and CB1 to CB3. Figure 4 . The segments were checked for cracks or distress.

For the SFRC (Types FA and FB) segments. For Type FA segments with a steel fibre content of 30 kg/m3. the stiffness of the segment started to decrease. Figure 5 . and this led almost immediately to the segment being broken into two at the midspan. Near the peak loads.2 Test Results and Discussion 4. the applied load dropped immediately upon the occurrence of the crack until it stabilized at about 80% of the peak load. 9 .1 Flexural tests For the plain concrete (Type FP) segments. Figure 6 shows a close up view of the cracked section. an elastic behaviour was initially observed. Thereafter.Cantilever load test set-up and instrumentation 4.2. A vertical crack quickly formed at the midspan of the segment as the peak load was reached. The displacements increased linearly with the applied loads. the displacements increased linearly with the applied load until a crack formed at the midspan section. the load decreased more gradually with increasing displacements.

0 kN. the behaviour of FB-3 was similar to Type FA segments while for FB-1 and FB-2.Close-up views of cracked sections For Type FB segments with a steel fibre content of 40 kg/m3. or 85% of the first-crack load. A second peak in the load-deflection curves was observed before the load started to decrease gradually again. Figure 6 . The residual strength of each SFRC segment was determined as the average of the applied load at first cracking and the load at a deflection equal to 10.5 times the first-crack deflection. Type FA segments with a steel fibre content of 30 kg/m3 had a residual strength of about 140. Type FB segments with a higher steel fibre content of 40 kg/m3 had a 10 . a slight drop in applied load was observed upon the occurrence of the crack at midspan before the load started to pick up again.

Figure 7 shows the plots and Table 4 shows the values. Figure 7 .correspondingly higher residual strength of about 164. or 92% of the first-crack load.5 kN.Load-midspan deflection curves 11 .

Flexural Test Results The toughness indices and residual strength factors were determined from the adjusted load- midspan deflection curves following the procedure in ASTM C1018-97.5.0. respectively. 12 . Table 5 shows the results from the tests. and 10. 5. which are defined as the areas under the load-deflection curve up to a deflection of 3. the first-crack deflection. divided by the area up to first crack. and I20. Table 4 . I10. The toughness indices are I5.5 times.

2. 13 . the maximum load occurred when the vertical displacement at point C reached about 9 to 11 mm. upon which a crack suddenly appeared next to the support edge. the segments suddenly broke into two with a loud bang when the displacement reached about 13 to 14 mm (see Figures 8 and 9). For Type CA segments with a steel fibre content of 30 kg/m3.Toughness Index and Residual Strength Factor Results 4. extending from the top to almost the bottom of the segment. The load dropped dramatically to about 120 and 160 kN in CA-1 and CA-2 respectively and to about 40 kN in CA-3 where it stabilized. Table 5 .2 Cantilever load tests For CP (plain concrete) segments.

Instead it decreased at a decreasing rate with increasing displacements. Figure 8 – Appearance of segments after tests Figure 9 . which occurred at a vertical displacement at point C of between 9 and 11 mm. in contrast to CP and CA segments. A crack was seen to appear from the top of the segment near the support edge.Close-up views of cracked sections The behaviour of Type CB segments with a steel fibre content of 40 kg/m3 was similar to CP and CA segments up to the maximum load-carrying capacity (see Figure 10). the applied load did not drop drastically. However. 14 .

both Types CP and CA segments failed suddenly with a drastic drop in the load-carrying capacity whereas the load carried by Type CB segments decreased gradually after the occurrence of a single crack at the support edge. However.The crack widened as loading was continued. It is deduced that the steel fibre content in Type CA segments was insufficient as to prevent the sudden drop in load-carrying capacity. The steel fibres could be seen to bridge the crack. Figure 10 . Figure 8 and 9 show the segment after the tests and a close up of the cracked section indicating the bridging action of the fibres respectively. The load-carrying capacities of the three types of segments are comparable to each other considering the variations in concrete strength and experimental errors. No other cracks were observed. 15 . as mentioned earlier. The vertical displacement at point C reached about 25 mm while the crack widened to more than 25 mm when the load has dropped to 100 kN.Comparison of Load –Deflection Curves The ultimate strength (load-carrying capacity) and the corresponding displacement at point C of all segments are tabulated in Table 6.

In terms of flexural toughness. The residual strength. calculated as the average load-carrying capacity at first crack and at a deflection equal to 10. Table 6 . The first-crack load was higher for segments with a higher steel fibre content due to the bridging effect of steel fibres across microcracks in the concrete that finally led in the formation of the critical major crack at midspan. up to the maximum load-carrying capacity.5 MPa. thereby resulting in a more gradual drop in load-carrying capacity and hence more ductile behaviour after the occurrence of first cracking. the steel fibres were effective in bridging the crack. extending from the top to near the bottom of the segment. Sample B showed higher residual flexural tensile strengths at high crack mouth opening displacement. the applied load did 16 . the samples were able to attain the compressive strength of 60 MPa required at 28 days. however. it was possible to achieve an average tensile splitting strength of 4. CONCLUSIONS From the specimen tests. the segments suddenly broke into two with a loud bang at maximum load- carrying capacity. It is also seen that the toughness indices and residual strength factors increased with steel fibre content. respectively for Type FA (30 kg/m3) and Type FB (40 kg/m3) segments. For Type CB segments with a steel fibre content of 40 kg/m3. For plain concrete segments.5 times the first-crack deflection. As a result. the results obtained were very satisfactory albeit Sample B (35 kg/m3 of fibres) showed very dubious results. Generally.Cantilever Load Test Results 5. Based on the flexural tests on segments. was 85% and 92% of the first- crack load. For SFRC segments. The cantilever load tests showed that the displacement increased with the applied load at a gradually increasing rate for all segments. plain concrete segment do not have the residual strength characteristics and failed suddenly at peak. It can be concluded that for SFRC segments. Samples A and C showed higher and comparable flexural tensile strength at first cracking and at small crack mouth opening displacements. based on average values. The load-carrying capacity dropped dramatically thereafter in CA segments which had a steel fibre content of 30 kg/m3. a crack suddenly appeared next to the support edge at maximum load. The difference in load-CMOD curves is not significant among the three sample types due to the small difference in steel fibre content.

R. “Testing hardened concrete – Part 3: Compressive strength of test specimens”. “Standard test method for flexural toughness and first-crack strength of fiber-reinforced concrete (using beam with third-point loading)”. Proceedings of the XIII Congress on challenges for concrete in the next millennium. 719-722. “Steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) tunnel segments suitable for application in the Second Heinenoord Tunnel”. “Testing hardened concrete – Part 6: Tensile splitting strength of test specimens”. BS EN 14651 (2005). A. Proceedings of RILEM TC 162-TDF Workshop. King M. Kooiman. ACKNOWLEDEGMENT The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the Land Transport Authority for the permission to publish this paper and the assistance rendered by personnel from SPC Industries Sdn.. P.. Bochum Germany. “Fire Protection of Concrete Tunnel Linings”.. A steel fibre content of 40 kg/m3 is required as in Type CB segments to prevent the sudden drop in the load-carrying capacity after cracking. “The Practical Specification of Steel Fibre Reinforced Concrete (SFRC) For Tunnel Linings”. Van der Veen. L. UK. (2001). the Netherlands. Residual)”. Watson. European Committee for Standardization. European Committee for Standardization. C. Hurt.not drop drastically but instead it decreased at a decreasing rate with increasing displacements. pp. BS EN 12390-6 (2002). “Design of Bored Tunnels on Channel Tunnel Rail Link”. E. Amsterdam. without which. “Test Method For Metallic Fibered Concrete – Measuring The Flexural Tensile Strength (Limit of Proportionality (LOP).. London. Proceedings of Underground Construction 2001 Conference. “Test and design methods for steel fibre reinforced concrete – Background and Experiences”. Proceedings Rapid Excavation and Tunnelling Conference. B. pp. Tunnel Fires and Escape from Tunnels Conference. These results will form the basis in specifying the minimum requirements in using SFRC tunnel linings for future rail lines. (2003). May. American Society for Testing of Materials. 157-165 Woods.H.. M. 20-21 March 2003. (2003). the tests would not have been such a success. Shuttleworth. European Committee for Standardization. “Testing Hardened Concrete – Part 5: Flexural Strength Of Test Specimens”. These results have given the LTA sufficient confidence that the there is enough structural capacity in SFRC for use in tunnel linings. (1998). Alder A. REFERENCES ASTM C1018-97 (1997). R. 230-244 17 . BS EN 12390 (2000). & Djorai. Bhd and Bekaert Singapore Pte Ltd.G. The load-carrying capacities of all three types of segments are comparable to each other considering the variations in concrete strength and experimental errors. Schnutgen.. European Committee for Standardization. BS EN 12390-3 (2002). Vandewalle. (2001). published by Brintex Ltd. P. J. J. pp.