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Steel Fibre Reinforced Self-Compacting Concrete (SFRSC) performance in slab

application: A review
Hazrina Ahmad, Mohd Hisbany Mohd Hashim, Siti Hawa Hamzah, and Afidah Abu Bakar

Citation: AIP Conference Proceedings 1774, 030024 (2016); doi: 10.1063/1.4965080

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Published by the American Institute of Physics
Steel Fibre Reinforced Self-Compacting Concrete (SFRSC)
Performance in Slab Application: A Review
Hazrina Ahmad1, a) Mohd Hisbany Mohd Hashim2, Siti Hawa Hamzah3 and Afidah
Abu Bakar4
Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA,
40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.
Corresponding author:

Abstract. The application of Steel Fibre Reinforced Self-compacting Concrete (SFRSC) in the construction of structural
elements is seen as an alternative solution to the complication in placing the reinforcement and compaction of normally
vibrated concrete. The main advantage of SFRSC is the ability to be properly poured in place, filling the formwork
corners and small voids between reinforcement bars by means of its own weight. Many research had been done in
exploring the structural performance of SFRSC due to the enhanced engineering and mechanical properties. The
incorporation of steel fibres in the mix has been found to enhance the hardened properties of self-compacting concrete in
terms of its tensile strength, ductility, toughness, energy absorption capacity and as well as fracture toughness. The
objective of this paper is to review the work done by previous researchers on the performance of SFRSC in slab
structures. The knowledge could be used as a guide in expanding the application of SFRSC as the main material in the
construction of slab elements.

SCC was explored by Japanese researchers back in 1992 in order to find solution to the critical decrease of skilled
workers to perform a proper compacting process in concrete construction in conjunction with the needs to produce
durable concrete structures. Therefore, SCC was developed with the advantage in the rheological properties that
allows it to be properly poured in place, filling the formwork corners and small voids between reinforcement bars by
means of its own weight [1][5].
Plain SCC alone is a quasi-brittle material. Steel fibres are introduced in the concrete mix in order to improve
this behaviour and produce a more ductile material as well as enhance the concrete materials properties especially by
its contribution against crack propagation. These positive effect of fibre addition leads to research work done to
investigate its ability to replace conventional reinforcement.
However, the addition of steel fibres was found to affect the workability of the fresh concrete significantly
causes the mix to be much stiffer with lower slump measurement [6]. Moreover, steel fibres is the heaviest material
in the concrete mix. Vibration could cause these fibres to move and segregate to the bottom of the slab resulting an
uneven dispersion of fibres that will further affect the homogeneity of the mix [7]. Therefore, by taking advantage of
the rheological performance of self-compacting concrete (SCC) at fresh state that requires no vibrating process, the
steel fibres can be added to the mix to produce steel fibre reinforced self-compacting concrete (SFRSC) with a more
uniform fibre dispersion in a highly workable mixture [5].

SCC Self-compacting concrete
SFRSC Steel fibre reinforced self-compacting concrete
EFNARC European Federation of National Association Representing
Concrete Applicators

International Conference on Advanced Science, Engineering and Technology (ICASET) 2015

AIP Conf. Proc. 1774, 030024-1030024-7; doi: 10.1063/1.4965080
Published by AIP Publishing. 978-0-7354-1432-7/$30.00

The structural application of SFRSC is still at an early stage but nevertheless, the properties offers significant
advantage in the concrete technology. Owing to the effective use of steel fibres in the mix to partially or totally
replace conventional reinforcements as well as the flow ability of the SCC, has brought this material to a wider
range of application in the construction industry. The flow ability of SCC allows the mix to easily flow through the
corners of the moulds and in between reinforcement bars. Furthermore, the casting process that requires no
compaction or vibration, provides a healthier environment for labours and requires less dependency on skilled
workers to perform the task [5], [8]. Review of literatures revealed that most SFRSC material is applied in beams
[3], [9] and slabs as well as precast tunnel lining and roof structures [5], [10].


In the last decade, numerous research have been carried out in investigating the effect of steel fibres in slab
application in the last decade. It has been widely used especially for on ground applications such as industrial
pavements, roads, parking areas as well as for airport runways [11] considering the advantages in enhancing the
durability against cracking and the strength of the structure at early ages [12], [13]. Nevertheless, studies are carried
out to investigate the application of steel fibres for elevated slabs, functioning as crack resistor as well as
replacement of reinforcements to accommodate loadings and shears.
Table 1 shows studies that has been done in the application of SFRSC in slab structures. This paper focuses only
on elevated slab application. In general, most studies carried out on the inclusion of steel fibres in the SCC mix is for
the purpose of providing a medium to resist cracks. To date, limited literatures are available by means of replacing
conventional reinforcements with steel fibres, either partial or total replacement. Nevertheless, due to the promising
performance of steel fibres, research in this area is now expanding to a greater length.
TABLE 1. Studies on SFRSC application in slab structures
Type of Elevated / on Function of
Author Year reinforcement Field of study
slab the ground steel fibres
To resist
Carlsward Slab Crack width
2006 Elevated shrinkage and None
[14] overlay limitation
flexural cracks
Load bearing
Destree et. al As only
2008 Flat slab Elevated None capacity, punching
[15] reinforcement
shear and cracking
Load bearing
capacity and
Michels et al. As only punching shear
2012 Flat slab Elevated None
[16] reinforcement around the
column; effect of
slab thickness
Sousa et. al Precast Top layer of Provided in Flexural and
2013 Elevated
[12] sandwich slab the slab the bottom layer shear behaviour
Aslani et. al One way To resist Provided in behaviour under
2014 Elevated
[17] slab cracks all specimens long term service
behaviour, bond
Aslani et. al One way To help resist Provided in shear stress and
2014 Elevated
[18] slab flexural cracks all specimens crack control
under short term
Teixeira et. al Punching
2015 Flat slab Elevated of shear Provided
[19] shear
Salehian et al. Two way Elevated and As only Load bearing
2015 None
[20] slab on ground reinforcement capacity

Earlier in 2006, a study was carried out on the utilization of SFRSC as bonded overlays on slab to repair or
strengthen deteriorated slab [14]. This application of steel fibres is capable of providing restrain to the existing slab
against cracking without having to provide any conventional reinforcement in the overlay. The steel fibres
embedded in the concrete mix functions as reinforcements to control cracking due to shrinkage and bending.
However, the effectiveness of this SFRSC overlay predominantly depends on the bonding between the overlay and
the existing slab.
Studies on the application of SFRSC was also carried out for one way slabs where it covers the short and long
term flexural cracking at serviceability and ultimate limit states [17], [18]. Conventional reinforcement bars were
provided in the slab samples to cater for flexures and the steel fibres were included to assist in the cracks resistance
against shrinkage and flexures. In this study, the steel fibres does not function as a replacement to conventional
rebars, but as a supplementary reinforcement to resist cracks due to bending and shrinkage. The provision of the
steel fibres in low volume fraction was found to slightly decrease the crack width and reduce the final deflection of
the slab.
By year 2008, the SFRSC application expands towards the aim of replacing conventional reinforcements in flat
slabs. Particularly, studies had been carried out considering high volumes of steel fibres as the only reinforcement in
flat slabs that is supported by columns without any supporting beams [15], [16], [20]. The main focus is the load
bearing capacity and the punching shear resistance of the slab. Results showed that the steel fibres was effective as
total replacement of conventional reinforcement in flat slab with the provision of additional reinforcements spanning
from column to column to prevent cracks progression [15], [16].
The load bearing capacity of the flat slab is considered at serviceability and ultimate limit state in order to
investigate the structural behaviour of the slab element. Minimum deflection without cracks was observed in
samples that is subjected to uniformly distributed loads simulating the service load for a residential building proved
the efficiency of the steel fibres to sustain loads [15], [20]. Ultimate loads was provided by inducing point loads to
the slab element. The steel fibres in the SCC mix increases the toughness significantly and increased the load
bearing capacity of the slab.
Since the flat slab structure is supported only on columns, the punching shear capacity is also observed in the
area around the column. The contribution of steel fibres in resisting punching shear in flat slabs was studied.
Reinforcement bars are provided in the slab to induce punching shear in the structure. Higher fibre content in the
mix and higher grade of concrete showed positive results in resisting the brittle punching shear failure. The steel
fibres functions effectively as shear reinforcements to resist the punching shear failure in the flat slab element [15],
[16], [19].
Studies of steel fibres in flat slabs also reveals that the geometry of the slab also affects the dispersion and
orientation of fibres in the sample. Steel fibres in thicker slabs tend to be more scattered by means of its orientation
as compared to thinner slab elements. This results in larger crack width with lower residual tensile strength as well
as lower load bearing capacity with a more pronounce softening behaviour [16]. Therefore, it can be concluded that
the geometry of the slab has to be taken into consideration for the design of slab structures reinforced with only steel
SFRSC can also be utilized in a precast sandwich slab where two layers of SFRSC with the bottom layer
reinforced with steel bars. These two layers were bonded together to produce a structurally efficient and lightweight
precast slab. The result proves that the slab has showed ductile behaviour and was able to withstand significant
flexural and shear loading actions.


The type, size and volume fraction of steel fibres in SFRSC mix affects the enhancement of the self-compacting
concrete properties. The types of steel fibres that is manufactured and used for concrete are traditional straight,
hooked end, undulated and crimped. Table 2 gathers the information on types and sizes of steel fibres used in slab
application. Most research in SFRSC slab application discussed in this study utilizes the hooked end type of fibres
while some uses undulated fibres.

TABLE 2. Types and size of steel fibres in slab application
Function of
Author Type of fibres Volume fraction Dimension
steel fibres
To resist
Carlsward 0.75 % (60
Hooked end shrinkage and 35 mm length
[14] kg/m3)
flexural cracks

Destree et. al As only 1.3 diameter

Undulated 1.3% (100 kg/m3)
[15] reinforcement 50 mm length

Michels et As only 1.3 diameter

Undulated 1.3% (100 kg/m3)
al.[16] reinforcement 50 mm length

Sousa et. al Top layer of 0.5 mm diameter

Hooked end 0.75% (60 kg/m3)
[12] the slab 37 mm length

Aslani et. al To resist 0.75 mm diameter

Hooked end 0.4% (30 kg/m3)
[17] cracks 60 mm length

Aslani et. al To help resist 0.75 mm diameter

Hooked end 0.4% (30 kg/m3)
[18] flexural cracks 60 mm length
Replacement 0.75, 1, 1.1% 0.55 mm diameter
Teixeira et. al
Hooked end of shear
[19] (60, 75, 90 kg/m )3
37 mm length

Salehian et al. As only 1.1 % (90 0.5 mm diameter

Hooked end
[20] reinforcement kg/m3) 35 mm length

Khaloo et al. As only 0.6, 0.7 mm diameter

Crimped 0.5, 1, 1.5%
[13] reinforcement 25, 35 mm length

Enhancement of the SFRSC properties also depends on the volume of steel fibres incorporated in the mix. In
general, higher fibre volume in the mix result in an increment in the residual flexural strength, flexural toughness,
energy absorption as well as the load bearing capacity due to improved ductility of the material. Inclusion of steel
fibres enhances the ductility and the splitting tensile strength of SCC by the fibre knitting between cracks that allows
stress transfer at the crack openings [13], [16].
The addition of steel fibres in the SCC has been found to increase the flexural strength for medium and high
strength up to 46% and 37.5%, respectively [4]. Furthermore, the steel fibres also increases the punching shear
resistance of SCC by providing an interlock between fibres that helps to resist cracks and delay the loss of aggregate
contribution in the mixture [21]. The most commonly used volume fraction of steel fibres to enhance the properties
of SCC is in between 0.5 to 2% of the concrete volume.
The ultimate load and ductility of the slab significantly enhanced with the addition of more than 0.4% of steel
fibres in the concrete [11]. Rahman et al. [22] that studied the application of hooked end steel fibres in a slab
structure discovered that with 0.5% fibre inclusion in the concrete mix, the load bearing capacity of the slab is
increased up to nearly 70% as compared to the theoretically calculated load.
Referring to the studies carried out by researchers in TABLE 2, 0.4 0.75% inclusion of steel fibres were
sufficient for crack resistance to improve the performance of the SFRSC slab [12], [14], [17], [18]. However, for
slabs that utilizes steel fibres as the only reinforcement to resist flexural loading and shears, at least 1% volume
fraction of fibres is required [13], [15], [16], [19], [20]. Higher amount of steel fibres also increases the energy
absorption capacity of the concrete mix [13] and develop higher post crack residual tensile strength that results in a
more significant load carrying capacity that exceeds the cracking load [23].
Based on previous research, the volume of steel fibres is limited to a maximum of 2%. This is due to the
substantial effect of the volume to the workability of the SCC mix. Research shows that with more than 2% of steel
fibres, the workability of the mix could fall below the minimum workability limit, therefore reduces its passing
ability causing the mixture to be caught in between reinforcement bars [24]. The effect of high volume of fibres to

the workability of the SCC mix also result in a reduction of the compressive strength. Khaloo et al. [4] mentioned
that a decrease of about 18.6% of the compressive strength was observed when up to 2% steel fibres were added to
the SCC concrete mix.
The dimension of the steel fibres incorporated in the concrete mix also affects the enhancement of the concrete
properties in slab structure. It does not significantly enhance the flexural strength of steel fibre reinforced concrete
slab but significantly increases the energy absorption capacity of the concrete structure. Research by Khaloo et. al
[13] revealed that longer steel fibres will result in higher energy absorption capacity in slab samples.
Previous research proves that the steel fibre is capable of improving the strength of the slab. Results
demonstrates that the selection of steel fibres in terms of its dimension, shape and volume fraction is important in
order to maximize its capability in enhancing the performance of SFRSC in slab application.


The basis of the SFRSC slab design is almost similar to the design of reinforced concrete slab where the stress-strain
principles applies. Nonetheless, the material properties in this two designs differs especially in terms of ductility and
crack resistant ability of the concrete with the presence of steel fibres. The design is based on the fundamentals of
structural design in Eurocode 2 [25] with some variations that particularly focused on steel fibre reinforced concrete
as recommended by RILEM [26].
In the design for ultimate resistance of an SFRSC section, the compressive strain is limited to -0.02 for pure axial
compression and -0.035 if it is not fully in compression. The deformation of the fibre reinforced section is limited to
a maximum of 3.5 mm width of crack at ultimate limit state in order to ensure sufficient bonding capacity of the
steel fibres. FIGURE 1 shows the stress-strain diagram for structures without any conventional reinforcements
where the crack width of the section at ultimate limit state can be calculated by:

FIGURE 1. Stress-strain diagram (without conventional reinforcement)

The load bearing capacity slabs reinforced only with steel fibres without any conventional reinforcements,
depends directly on the post-cracking behaviour of the material [20]. In the design of structures that utilizes steel
fibres as the main reinforcement, the stress versus crack width relationship (t w) is the most appropriate method
to be considered to simulate the post cracking behaviour of the material. The design also refers to the stress-strain
relationship that is particularly for the purpose of utilizing steel fibres in concrete mix [26]. The material properties
applied are from direct tensile and flexural strength test [27]. Nevertheless, the post cracking response of SFRSC
must also take into consideration the percentage of fibres bridging the cracks, shape and geometry of the slab,
casting process and the rheological properties of the mix [28].
Based on RILEM recommendations [26], there is no specific method to contemplate the contribution of steel
fibres in the shear strength without any provision of conventional reinforcements where it considers both
contribution of the rebars and the steel fibres in the shear strength of a beam. However, for slab structures, the shear
stress is not critical except when it is subjected to point loads.
Destree et al. [15] compares the design of slabs utilizing steel fibres as main reinforcements in flat slabs using
the ArcelorMittal and the standard conventional design method. The ArcelorMittal method is the most effective way
of designing a slab reinforced with only steel fibres. The method refers to the properties of steel fibre reinforced
concrete determined based on round slab specimen which is more relevant while the standard method refers to the
properties from the small beam specimen. It has been found that the flexural behaviour of a small beam specimen

cast in the lab does not reflect the actual material behaviour of SCRFC in large scale [15],[16]. However, if the
standard design method is to be used, a high factor of safety of up to 3 has to be taken into account in order to reflect
the actual behaviour of the material.
Therefore, the design of SFRSC slab requires consideration of the geometrical factors that particularly refers to
the slab thickness as well as the span length. It has been discovered that there is a reduction in the effective span
length of steel fibre reinforced slab as compared to the conventional reinforced concrete slab [16].
A model was also developed to predict the crack width and assess the cracking risk in slab overlay [14]. The
shrinkage development, maturity, stress relaxation, the degree of restraint and the residual strength of SFRSC are
considered in the crack prediction and predict the influence of fibres on crack widths.

In conclusion, previous research has shown that steel fibre reinforced self-compacting concrete (SFRSC) is a
practical alternative to the conventional reinforced concrete structure. This is due to the promising properties that
allows the material to be utilized in resisting cracks as well as for replacement of conventional reinforcement either
partially or totally in slab structures. Nevertheless, in the slab application of SFRSC, special attention has to be taken
in the selection of the steel fibre inclusion especially in terms of the volume fraction as well as the construction
method. This is due to the importance of maintaining the homogeneity of the mix that is crucial for the performance
of the slab structure.

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