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Joining techniques for fiber reinforced polymer

composite bridge deck systems

Article in Composite Structures July 2005

DOI: 10.1016/j.compstruct.2004.07.016


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Aixi Zhou
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Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345

Joining techniques for ber reinforced polymer composite bridge

deck systems
Aixi Zhou *, Thomas Keller
Composite Construction Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologyLausanne, EPFL-CCLab, BAT. BP, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Available online 27 August 2004


Bridge decks made from ber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites have been increasingly used in rehabilitation and new con-
struction of pedestrian and highway bridges. For each application, connections are inevitable due to limitations on shape size
and the requirements of transportation. Connections for FRP bridge decks include primary and secondary load-carrying joints
and non-structural joints. Primary and secondary load-carrying connections are most concerned in construction, which include com-
ponentcomponent connection, panelpanel connection, and deck-to-support connection. Unfortunately, the technical background,
development and design guides of FRP bridge deck connections have not been documented adequately in literature. This paper
attempts to provide technical background, developed joining techniques, and design principles concerning the joining of FRP decks.
Design requirements, characteristics, performances, advantages and disadvantages of developed FRP deck connection techniques
are discussed. Design principles for adhesively bonded joints and mechanical xing and hybrid joints involving cutouts are also
 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Fiber reinforced polymer; Composites; Bridge deck; Superstructure; Connections; Design; Construction

1. Introduction comb sandwich panel. Multi-cellular panels have varied

geometrical forms and can be used without or with foam
Structural shapes made from Fiber Reinforced Poly- core materials. Two basic cellular FRP deck panels have
mer (FRP) composites have been increasingly used in been developed according to the techniques of processing
structural systems for rehabilitation and new construc- and assembly: panels from adhesively bonded pultruded
tion of pedestrian and highway bridge decks [112]. shapes and panels from adhesively bonded lament-
FRP bridge decks are usually provided in modular panel wound shapes. For each modular FRP deck panel form,
forms. In construction, deck panels are usually connected connections are inevitable due to limitations on shape size
to their supports to transfer loads transversely to the sup- imposed by the manufacturing process and the require-
ports that bear on abutments. Current commercially ments of transportation.
available FRP decks for rehabilitation and new construc- Three classes of connections involving composites are
tion can be classied into two categories according to the identied in the Eurocomp Design Code and Handbook
types of assembly and construction: sandwich panels [3]: (1) primary joints, which carry major strength and
and multi-cellular type panels. Sandwich panels have stiness to an assembly for the whole-life of the structure;
two basic forms: foam core sandwich panel and honey- (2) secondary structural joints, whose failure would be
only local failure without compromising the entire struc-
Corresponding author. Tel.: +41 21 693 3225; fax: +41 21 693
ture; (3) non-structural connections, whose main purpose
3240. is to exclude the external environment. Connections for
E-mail address: (A. Zhou). FRP bridge decks include all these categories. However,

0263-8223/$ - see front matter  2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345 337

this research focuses on primary and secondary load- bridge deck panels. In panel and system levels, adhesive
carrying connections for FRP bridge decks. These load- bonding, mechanical fastening and the combination of
carrying connections include componentcomponent bonding and fastening have been used. However, the
connections to form modular FRP bridge deck panels development of connecting techniques for FRP bridge
(henceforth referred as component level connection, or deck systems, especially in panel and system levels, has
CLC), panelpanel connections to form FRP bridge deck not come up with the growing demands of the FRP deck
systems (henceforth referred as panel level connection, or rehabilitation and new construction. In some demon-
PLC), and FRP deck-to-supports connections to form stration FRP bridge deck projects, cracks and damages
bridge superstructures (including deck-girder, deck-abut- appeared in deck connection regions after eld exposure
ment and deck-barrier connections, etc., henceforth re- to real trac loadings and environmental conditions, as
ferred as system level connection, or SLC). shown in Fig. 1. The need for ecient and reliable load-
In general, bridge systems shall be designed for spec- carrying joints that can endure long-term fatigue and
ied limit states to achieve the objectives of safety, serv- environmental attacks has become apparent.
iceability and constructability with regards to the issues Unfortunately, the technical background and the
of durability, inspectability, economy and aesthetics. development of FRP bridge deck connections have not
FRP deck connections shall be designed under the been documented adequately in literature. In a previous
guideline of this philosophy to achieve the specied limit paper by Zhou and Keller [13], only joining techniques
states for each construction. However, specic design for FRP decks were briey reviewed. This paper provides
requirements for FRP deck connections vary with the more details for the technical background, developed
levels of connection. In component level connections, joining techniques, and design principles concerning
the main objective is to ensure the integrity of the deck the joining of FRP decks in component level, panel level
panel and the load transfer eciency between the jointed and system level. In this paper, the development of con-
components. In the panel level, major concerns are the nection techniques for FRP bridge decks is presented.
deck systems load transferring and carrying capability Joining techniques for componentcomponent connec-
(bending moment and shear force, and resistance to dy- tions, panelpanel connections and deck-to-support con-
namic loads, etc.), panelpanel compatibility to defor- nections that have been developed in past decade will be
mations imposed by thermal or moisture eects, and reviewed. These techniques include mechanical fasten-
the constructability of connections. In the system level, ing, adhesive bonding, and hybrid joining. Characteris-
shear transfer and connection constructability are major tics and performance of each connection technique will
concerns. The advantages of advanced FRP composites be discussed. Design guides for adhesively bonded FRP
would be lost if the characteristics of the associated deck joints are also presented. Finally, guides for the de-
joints were not properly understood and the connections sign of mechanically xed or hybrid FRP deck connec-
were not properly designed. tions involving cutouts will be provided.
Key manners for joining FRP composites are
mechanical fastening and adhesive bonding. The combi-
nation of bonding and fastening can be used to take the 2. Joining techniques for FRP bridge decks
advantages of both methods when the connection is
properly designed and constructed. Due to its advan- 2.1. Component level connections for FRP bridge deck
tages of the simplication of processing and thus a panels
saving of production cost and possible rened joint
geometry, adhesive bonding is generally used for con- Component level connections are usually permanent.
necting permanent FRP deck components to form The main objective for CLC joining is to ensure the

Fig. 1. Cracking at FRP deck connection regions. (a) At panel connection. (b) At component connection.
338 A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345

integrity and the loading-transfer eciency of the

formed deck panels. The deck panels will be evaluated,
usually via laboratory testing, to make sure that the
assembled deck panels satisfy the specied limit states.
Primary design criteria are deection criterion and
strength criterion. The deection criterion is usually rep-
resented by a deection index, L/xxx, where L is the
deck span length and xxx is a value to be specied
(e.g. 500) to satisfy the stiness requirement for a spe-
cic design. The strength criterion is often represented
by specifying a limit value for strain or stress in critical
directions and locations where maximum strain or stress
may occur in the deck. When these conditions are satis-
ed, the component level connections should be de-
signed with the additional considerations of ease of
processing and the resistance to long-term fatigue loa-
dings and environmental attacks. Because of the advan-
tages that adhesive bonding can oer over mechanical
fastening, adhesive bonding has been widely used in
component level connections to form FRP bridge deck
panels, as shown in Fig. 2(a) and (b). However, in some
cases [12], mechanical fastening has been used to provide
necessary binding forces when the components are in
curing (see Fig. 2(c)). Bolted joints have also been ana-
lyzed for joining FRP components [11]. However, the
comparison study showed that a bonded joint is easier
to design and provides a larger safety margin than the
bolted connection [11].
Laboratory experiments and eld applications
showed that there was no clear relationship between
the load-carrying capacity of the modular FRP deck
panels and the ultimate strength of the adhesively
bonded connections. In some laboratory tests [12], local
debonding noises were observed at some loading cycles
before the ultimate deck failure. The deck continued to
resist loads till the deck panel failed in the FRP proles
while no visible permanent damage in the bonded con-
nections was observed. Fig. 3(a) shows the punching fail- Fig. 2. Deck panels through various joining techniques. (a) Bonded
ure of a deck surface using a steel loading patch. Fig. 3(b) pultrusion shapes [5]. (b) Bonded sandwich [4]. (c) Bonding with
shows the internal FRP tube failure of a bonded cellular fastening [12].
deck under a rubber-reinforced tire loading patch. In
other laboratory tests [5], deck panels failed within the
FRP components near the bonded line (Fig. 3(c)). No should be designed and fabricated to allow failure in
failure was observed in the adhesive layer and the joint the FRP substrate before failure in the adhesive or the
interface. Delamination and buckling of FRP compo- interface. This criterion has been achieved for FRP
nents were also observed in laboratory tests, as shown bridge deck panels as results from laboratory tests have
in Fig. 3(d). In all these cases, the adhesive layer and shown [5,12]. In Section 3.1, a design criterion for adhe-
the adhesivesubstrate interface were stronger than the sively bonded FRP joints will be discussed in details.
FRP components. Therefore, no pre-matured adhesion However, problems remain when bridge deck panels
or cohesion failure occurred. These observations showed are exposed under long-term trac loadings and envi-
that adhesive bonding is a viable technique for joining ronmental attacks, which is shown in Fig. 1(b).
component level connections in FRP bridge deck panels.
Therefore, this technique has been widely used for com- 2.2. Panel level connections of FRP bridge decks
ponent level joints in FRP deck construction projects.
A criterion for designing bonded component level Panel level connections shall be designed to eciently
connections shall be that an adhesively bonded joint transfer bending moment and shear forces between
A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345 339

Fig. 3. Failure modes of bonded cellular deck panels. (a) Surface failure [12]. (b) Internal failure [12]. (c) Delamination [5]. (d) Delamination and
buckling [5].

jointed panels, and ensure deformation compatibility diculty of disassembly for repair. Mechanical xing
due to thermal eect, as well as the ease of on-site instal- has the advantage of easy disassembly. However, load
lation. In some special cases, the panelpanel connec- transfer and failure resistant capability of mechanical
tions may be designed and constructed to provide the xing (such as the shear key and the clip-joint) is not
possibility of disassembly for repair. Several techniques as ecient as bonded joining.
have been developed for panel level connections: the Results from constructed projects show that splicing
splicing tonguegroove connection (Fig. 4(a)) and the bonding connections have potential for application. For
clipjoint connection via mechanical xing [3]. the shear key connection, cracks appeared after a period
Splicing connections require quality control on the of exposure to highway vehicle loadings, which is shown
dimensions of deck panels. It was shown that panels in Fig. 1(a). The cracking at the shear key connection re-
from pultruded shapes have better dimension uniformity gion shows that mechanically xed connections are not
than decks from sandwiched panels through VARTM reliable to resist dynamic vehicle loadings. In panel level
and sandwiched panels from hand lay-up [10]. For easy connections, the joints shall be designed to provide en-
on-site installation, adequate tolerance in panel dimen- ough connecting force to resist repeated loadings to
sions must be ensured for splicingbonding connections. maintain the integrity of the panel-connection-panel
However, a disadvantage of bonded connections is the system.

Fig. 4. Typical panel connections for FRP deck systems. (a) Adhesive-bonding [10]. (b) Mechanical shear key [2].
340 A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345

2.3. System level connections for FRP composite bridge to develop composite action between the deck and the
superstructures supporting girders. A large portion of impact loads is
taken by the FRP deck; therefore, this design is suitable
The design of ecient deck-to-support connections is for rehabilitation or repair to reduce the loading impacts
the most challenging topic in the development of FRP on the existing supports. While in most cases, a compos-
bridge deck connections. System level joints deal with ite action between the deck and its support is desirable.
connecting large-scale structures, and usually between Composite action via bonding and hybrid joining oers
dierent materials. Since some CLC and PLC tech- several advantages for FRP decks: (1) the overall sti-
niques have been well developed to ensure the functions ness and load resistance capability of the connected sys-
of the deck panels, the eciency of deck-to-support joint tem can be signicantly increased (for short spans)
governs the overall behavior of the formed superstruc- compared to their individual components [6]; (2) the
ture. Among all deck-to-support connections, the overall superstructure can have ductile characteristic
deck-girder (or stringer) connection is the most promi- when the girder is made from ductile material (steel or
nent. Depending on the requirements of a specic pro- concrete) due to the loads transfer eciency between
ject, the deck-girder connection could be a permanent the brittle FRP deck and its ductile support [6]; (3) when
joint with composite action or a joint with ease of disas- appropriately designed, the redundancy of the con-
sembly without the necessity of composite action be- nected system can be achieved after unexpected failure
tween the deck and its supports. In connections with of the joints [8]; (4) a ductile bonding layer in the con-
composite action, the eciency of shear transfer and nection can provide potential ductile behaviour of the
constructability are major factors directing the connec- formed superstructure system although the deck and
tion design. its supports are brittle. Research is under way to conrm
Mechanical xing, adhesive bonding and hybrid this concept [8].
joints have been explored in connecting FRP bridge Composite action, structural redundancy and system
deck panels to their underneath supports, as shown in ductile characteristic are main objectives when designing
Fig. 5. The connection designs in Fig. 5(a) are approxi- hybrid or adhesive-bonded FRP deck-support connec-
mated as simply supported conditions and not intended tions for bridge superstructures. So far, the majority of

Fig. 5. Various deck-to-support connections for FRP bridge superstructures. (a) Fastened connection [12]. (b) Bonded connection [6]. (c) Hybrid
connection [2]. (d) Detailed deck-girder connection [9].
A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345 341

FRP deck-girder connections have utilized hybrid join- and composite materials. Most constructed FRP bridge
ing in which conventional shear studs or stirrups (see decks are made from pultruded glass ber reinforced
Fig. 5(c) and (d)) are used to provide composite action. polymer (GFRP) composite shapes (plates, tubes, etc.)
These types of connections have a proven history in the [1,3,58,10,12]. Therefore in this section, we focus on de-
civil engineering domain, therefore are generally ac- sign of adhesively bonded joints for pultruded GFRP
cepted by bridge engineers. However, these connections proles.
are developed for steel or concrete deck-girder connec- Usually, pultruded GFRP proles have E-glass bers
tions. In connections shown in Fig. 5(c) and (d), holes in form of roving bundles used as reinforcements in the
are required at some desired spacing in the deck. The middle. The direction of the roving bers runs in the
cutouts bring concerns about the stress concentrations pultrusion direction. Additional glass ber mats are
and possible vulnerability to fatigue loads and environ- used as the outside layers for shear resistance. The mats
mental attacks in the deck panels cutout regions. Eorts can be of chopped strand mats (CSM), woven mats, or
must be taken to protect the cutout regions from envi- their combinations. The cross-section of a 10 mm thick
ronmental attacks. Some FRP deck-girder, deck-railing pultruded GFRP laminate is shown in Fig. 6. A polyes-
and deck-barrier connections used in current construc- ter surface veil is often added for protection and surface
tion also utilize well-developed connection techniques nishing. The average ber volume fraction of the
for steel and concrete bridge systems [9]. However, since GFRP proles ranges from 35% to 50% for many avail-
FRP decks are dierent from steel decks and concrete able deck systems [5,6,12,15]. Resins of pultruded
decks in constitutive materials and structural forms, ef- GFRP shapes for bridge deck applications are usually
forts shall be taken to develop adapted connection tech- thermosetting resins, such as polyester and vinyl ester
niques for FRP deck-girder and FRP deck-railing resins [14]. The joining adhesives are usually epoxy
connections. and polyurethane. Research showed that the stress-
When the deck supports are wide and at, it is possi- strain curves of GFRP laminates are linear-elastic; while
ble to use all-adhesive connection (Fig. 5(b)). In this the epoxy adhesive shows a slight non-linear elastic
case, adhesive bonding is preferable to hybrid connect- behavior [15].
ing mainly because of fewer steps involved in the bond- The basic design rule for adhesive bonding of ber
ing process and more evenly distributed stresses in the reinforced composites is that the bonding layer must al-
joint. However, the diculty of quality control of adhe- ways be stronger than the adherends [16]. This rule can
sive bonding during on-site installation and a lack of generally be satised for the adhesively bonded GFRP
condence in the fatigue and durability of the adhesive pultrusions. Studies showed that bonded GFRP pultru-
layer have hindered its application. Research is currently sions with good surface treatment always fail in the
underway to tackle these problems [6]. adherends rather than in the adhesive layer or the adhe-
siveadherend interface [15]; hence, the strength of the
adhesively bonded joint is determined by the adher-
3. Connection design for FRP decks and superstructures endsthe pultruded GFRP proles (or laminates).
Therefore, the strength prediction of the joint and the
3.1. Design of adhesively bonded joints associated failure criterion should focus on the pul-
truded GFRP laminates. Delamination in the mat re-
The development of high strength synthetic adhesives gion in the through-thickness plane is the dominant
has made possible the bonding of large timber structures failure of adhesively bonded GFRP laminates. For
and expanded the adhesive bonding of metals, alloys strength prediction of bonded joints from pultruded

Fig. 6. Cross-section of a 10 mm laminate (50).

342 A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345

GFRP laminates, the following quadratic stress failure 3.2. Design of fastening and hybrid joints with cutouts
criterion can be used [15]:
 2  2 Mechanical xing technologies (such as bolting and
rz sxz
1 1 riveting) have been well developed and widely accepted
k r  rz;u k s  sxz;u in many engineering disciplines. When easy disassembly
where rz is the actual local through-thickness tensile is required for a design, mechanical xing through bolt-
stress at the adherends; sxz is the actual local through- ing is an ecient and economical way of joining. How-
thickness shear stress.rz,u is the through-thickness ten- ever, when mechanical fastening (or hybrid bonding/
sile strength of the adherends; sxz,u is the shear strength fastening) connection technique is used for FRP bridge
in through-thickness plane. rz,u and sxz,u are material decks, cutouts are usually required. Cutouts break rein-
properties which can be determined from tests with a forcing bers in the FRP component and bring local
special device [15]. When conducting tests using the spe- stress concentrations. Therefore, calculations must be
cial device to obtain rz,u and sxz,u values, the applied made to estimate the possible stress concentrations when
through-thickness tensile and shear stresses were evenly joining FRP with mechanical fastening involving cut-
distributed along the specimens [15]. However, in a lap outs. Since most cutouts in applications are in circular
joint, the through-thickness tensile and shear stresses forms, this part will concentrate on the calculation of
have highly concentrated stress peaks at the edges. stress concentrations for circular cutouts.
Therefore, factors kr and ks were introduced to con-
sider the dierences. Further studies [15] show that kr 3.2.1. Stress concentrations around cutouts in a at prole
is mainly related to the adherend tapering level; and ks The stress distribution near a circular hole in compos-
is mainly related to the overlap length. Fig.7 shows the ite orthotropic plates under biaxial in-plane loading has
values of kr and ks as the function of relative taper- been examined analytically and is based on the complex
ing ratio and overlap length respectively [17]. The taper- variable mapping approach [20,21]. However, this solu-
ing ratio is obtained by dividing the tapered length by tion is cumbersome to apply. Some simple polynomial
the overlap length. This criterion in Eq.(1) takes the expression for the stress distribution has been derived
same form as the quadratic criterion in [18] and similar for the uniaxial loading case and a widely varying range
to the experimentally validated interaction equation in of orthotropic open-hole plates under any biaxial load-
[19]. The criterion proposed in [18] was mainly for the ing [22,23]. When the dimension of the cutout is very
general case of delamination initiation of laminated small compared to the plate, the following equations
composites staring at the free edges. The interaction can be used for calculating the stress concentration fac-
equation in [19] was for adhesively bonded ARALL tors [23]:
laminate joints whose adherends consisted of thin alum- 1
inum alloy sheets alternating with aramid ber/epoxy K orth
A 1 k  c  a and K orth
B 1 c  a k
prepreg layers, while the accurate interaction equation 2
in [19] took the form of (rz/rz,u) + (sxz/sxz,u)2 = 1. The p p
predictions of joints ultimate capacities based on failure where a Exx =Eyy , c = q/p, k 2a  mxy Exx =Eyy .
criterion of Eq.(1) showed good agreement with the The coordinate system is shown in Fig. 8. When the ef-
experimental values [15]. fects of nite dimensions are signicant, the calculations

4.5 4.5


3.0 2.5


1.5 0.5
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 50 100 150 200 250
Tapering Ratio Overlap Length (mm)

Fig. 7. kr and ks factors for double lap joints [17].

A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345 343

a circular cutout) and a particular solution of the non-

uniform equation [26,27]. The solution can be obtained
with the help of Hankels rst function and the Krylov
function. For an orthotropic cylindrical shell whose axes
of orthotropy (1, 2, 3) coincide with the cylindrical coor-
dinate lines (r, h, z), and with a free small circular cutout
under uniform in-plane loading (subject to p and q,
which are uniform pressures in r and h directions respec-
tively), considering the far eld axial stress p as reference
stress, the stress concentration factors at two critical
locations (h = 0, 90) can be approximately obtained as:
pb2 pb2 1  k
K h90
3 c 1
2 2 2
Fig. 8. Coordinates for a circular cutout in an innite orthotropic at   2 
plate. pb
1  c 1 
need to be modied by appropriate correction factors to pb 1  k
K h0
3c  1
5c  1
account for nite width eects [24]. 2 2
3.2.2. Stress concentrations around cutouts in a 1  c 1  3
cylindrical prole
In many cases, cylindrical proles are used for FRP where c = q/p, the ratio of the far-eld bi-axial uniform
bridge deck design and construction [25]. Fig. 9 shows pressure
p ploads; k = E2 /E1, the orthotropy ratio;

the local failure around a circular cutout in a cylinder b2 3a2 k1  v12 v21 =4Rh, a is the radius of the
made from carbon ber reinforced polymer composites hole, h is the shell thickness, and R is the radius (or cur-
from laboratory tests under four-point bending load. vature) of the cylinder.
It is seen that the failure rst occurred around the cutout The above approximation was derived for innite
section and locally at the cutout edges [25], and the cut- cylindrical shells. However, in application, it can be used
out region was always the weakest part in the whole for estimating the stress concentration factors in the
system. initial design stage. This estimation can be further vali-
The calculation of stress concentrations for an ortho- dated by numerical calculation or experimental verica-
tropic cylindrical prole is more complicated than a at tion. Fig. 10 shows the comparisons of calculations from
one. Analytical solutions have been developed for Eq. (3) and nite element analysis using rst-order shear
designing of curved aerospace FRP shell structures with deformable shell element (SHELL93) and 3 dimensional
circular cutouts [26]. In these solutions, the classical solid element (SOLID95). In this calculation, the aver-
shell theory, in which the Kirchho hypothesis holds, age median radius of the cylinder is 462 mm, the thick-
can be used for thin shells. With the hypothesis, the ness is 10 mm, E1=68.8 GPa, E2=51.9 GPa, G12=4.6
problem of the stress concentration around a circular GPa, m12=0.31. It is shown that, for small cutout size
cutout in a cylindrical orthotropic shell can be solved (a/R 6 0.07), the stress concentration factors (SCFs)
in the form of the sum of a general solution from the predictions from the simplied formulation are
uniform part (as the same in an isotropic cylinder with closed to the SCFs obtained from the rst-order shear

Fig. 9. Failure around a cutout in a cylinder made from carbon ber reinforced polymer and lled with lightweight concrete. (a) Compression failure
[25]. (b) Compression failure detail.
344 A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345

5 a constant value of 30 mm. The SCFs on the edge r = a

were obtained as SCF rh =r1 h , where stress rh is the
4 stress at r = a and r1
h is the applied uniform pressure at
innity (for example, r1h p for uniform axial pressure
Stress Concentration Factor (K)

3 loading in the longitudinal direction). As shown in Fig.

K_90 (Eq.3) K_0(Eq.3) 11, the interaction eect is not signicant when L/
2 K_90 (1st Order Shear) K_0(1st Order Shear) a P 3. Therefore, in practice, a recommended distance
K_90 (3D Solid) K_0 (3D Solid) between cutouts would be L/a P 3. When close dis-
tances cannot be eschewed, measures must be taken to
arrange the cutout pattern in a reasonable manner to re-
= 90 duce local stress concentrations and interactions.
= 0

-1 4. Conclusion

-2 Joining techniques and design principles for FRP

0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20
bridge decks are presented. The techniques for connect-
a/R ing FRP deck panels vary according to the levels of join-
Fig. 10. Eects of cutout size on stress concentration under uniaxial ing. In the component level, adhesive bonding is the
loading. most ecient way. The majority of current FRP bridge
decks use adhesive bonding to assemble individual
deformable shell theory and complete 3D solid mode- components to form deck panels. In some cases, the
ling. Through parameter study, it was shown that the assembly process is assisted with mechanical means. In
parameters that aect the magnitude of SCFs of FRP panelpanel connections, bonded splicing connections
cylindrical shell with single circular cutout are: cutout and mechanically xed connections have been developed
size, material properties, shell thickness and loading for installation. Improvement should be made to ensure
conditions [25]. mechanical xings ability to resist dynamic loadings.
When multiple cutouts are required in a connection The system level deck-support connection is the most
design, measures must be taken to reduce the negative ef- challenging issue in developing FRP deck connections.
fects of the interaction of cutouts. Fig. 11 shows the case Because of their advantages, adhesive bonding and hy-
of two similar circular cutouts aligned along the genera- brid joining are promising connecting techniques for
trix. The interaction region lies in 70 6 h 6 180. The system level connections. In some situations, adhesive
stress states at the cutout edge with two cutouts approach bonding possesses advantageous characteristics over hy-
the stress state with a single cutout as L/a increases, brid joining because of its simple installation process. In
where a is the cutout radius and L is the distance between each design and construction, eorts shall be taken to
two cutouts. In the analysis, the cutout size a was kept as provide structural redundancy for the connected super-
structure, i.e., the underneath girders can still take the
loads in case of unexpected failure in the bonded or hy-
brid joints. In terms of adhesive-bonded bridge super-
L/a=4 structures, research should be conducted to investigate
Stress Concentration Factor (K)

L/a=6 the long-term fatigue loading and environmental eects
Single Cutout on the adhesive-bonded system level connections. In
terms of fastening or hybrid connections involving cut-
2 outs, care must be taken to reduce the local stress con-
centrations at the cut out regions.

L = 90
0 [1] Bakis CE, Bank LC, Brown VL, Cosenza E, Davalos JF, Lesko
= 0
JJ, et al. Fiber reinforced polymer composites for construction
state-of-the-art review. ASCE J Compos Construct 2001;6(2):
-1 7387.
0 30 60 90 120 150 180 [2] Burgueno R, Seible F, Karbhari VM, Davol A, Zhao L.
() Manufacturing and Construction Support Document for the
Kings Stormwarter Channel Bridge, Technical Report No. SSRP-
Fig. 11. Eect of relative distance on stress states at one cutout edge of 99/05, Division of Structural Engineering, University of Califor-
two similar cutouts along the generatrix of a cylinder. nia, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA, 1999.
A. Zhou, T. Keller / Composite Structures 69 (2005) 336345 345

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