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Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29

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Synergy assessment in hybrid Ultra-High Performance Fiber-

Reinforced Concrete (UHP-FRC)
Alessandro P. Fantilli a, *, Sukmin Kwon b, Hirozo Mihashi c, Tomoya Nishiwaki c
Department of Structural, Building and Geotechnical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy
Construction Technology Research Department, Land and Housing Institute, Expro-ro, Yuseong-gu 539-99, 34047 Daejon, South Korea
Department of Architecture and Building Science, School of Engineering, Tohoku University, 6-6-11-1212, Aoba, Aramakiaza, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8579,

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Ultra-High Performance Fiber-Reinforced Concretes (UHP-FRC) subjected to uniaxial tensile loads are
Received 12 April 2017 investigated in the present paper. The study comprises a new procedure to assess the effectiveness of the
Received in revised form hybridization, herein obtained by reinforcing UHP-FRC with micro and macro steel fibers. A compre-
12 September 2017
hensive experimental campaign is also performed on monofiber and hybrid UHP-FRC. In all the con-
Accepted 30 October 2017
Available online 10 November 2017
cretes, the distance between the cracks and the minimum fiber volume fraction, which produces strain
hardening response and multiple cracking, are theoretically and experimentally evaluated. If the bond
parameter of the macro-fibers is properly calculated, the results of the analytical model, in terms of
crack-spacing vs. fiber volume fraction, are in good agreement with the test data. Moreover, to increase
Macro-fibers the number of the cracks, and to reduce crack spacing, the hybridization is suitable only when the
Monofiber amount of macro-fibers is within a well-defined range.
Fiber-volume fraction © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Analytical modelling
Mechanical testing

1. Introduction respect to plain concrete (Level 0 FRC), but higher fracture

toughness can be measured during the softening (Fig. 1a).
In the last years, the use of performance based materials has  Level 2 FRC is the so-called strain hardening cementitious
become more and more frequent, especially in the case of concrete composite, in which tensile strength is slightly higher than
structures. The construction industry does not offer a single type of those of Level 0 and Level 1 FRC (which are normal strength),
concrete, but there are several concretes (e.g., lightweight concrete, and in the post cracking stage (see Fig. 1b) multiple cracking and
self-consolidating concrete, high-strength concrete, etc.) which are strain hardening (or high strain capacity) appear [2]. The larger
tailor-made for different structural and non-structural applications. the number of cracks, the longer the strain hardening behaviour
Obviously, the process of tailoring these concretes depends on the of FRC [3].
required mechanical performances. In the case of fiber-reinforced  Level 3 FRC is both high-strength and strain hardening cemen-
concrete (FRC), for instance, the capability of resisting to uniaxial titious composite, generally defined as ultraehigh performance
tensile loads can be achieved with the three performance levels fiber-reinforced concrete (UHP-FRC). Before the softening stage,
shown in Fig. 1 [1]: during which high strain capacity and more than one crack are
visible, concrete can show ultra-high tensile strength (Fig. 1c). In
 Level 1 FRC is generally a fiber-reinforced concrete which fails in such cement-based materials, compressive strength is generally
presence of a single crack: strength does not change with higher than 150 MPa and, in the pre-softening stage, the energy
absorption capacity g is larger than 50 kJ/m3 [1].

A large use of UHP-FRC in place of the traditional reinforced

concrete (RC) is desirable. Indeed, it is a new and versatile com-
* Corresponding author.
posite material with a large energy-absorption capacity, and thus
E-mail addresses: (A.P. Fantilli), sukminkwon@lh.or.
kr (S. Kwon),, suitable for structures subjected to severe loads (e.g., blast, impact,
(H. Mihashi), (T. Nishiwaki). earthquake, etc. [4]), and possessing a long service life by virtue of
0958-9465/© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
20 A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29

Fig. 1. The performance levels of fiber-reinforced concrete [1]: (a) strain softening (Level 1 FRC); (b) strain hardening with multiple cracking (Level 2 FRC); (c) strain hardening with
multiple cracking in high strength concrete (UHP-FRC or Level 3 FRC).

its crack tolerance [5]. Although the excessive cost of production, Nevertheless a new parameter has to be measured and
both the ecological and mechanical performances of UHP-FRC are employed in the synergy assessment from this test. As hybrid Level
the highest, thus Level 3 FRC can be more sustainable than tradi- 2 FRC can be distinguished by the distance between the cracks at
tional concrete [6,7]. the onset of strain localization [17], the authors believe that this
The mixtures of UHP-FRC can be designed with different distance can also be used in hybrid UHP-FRC. Accordingly, the
methods. Wille et al. [1] applied the ternary approach to monofiber significance of the present theoretical and experimental in-
cementitious composites, in which the fiber volume fraction and vestigations, carried out on different UHP-FRC subjected to uniaxial
the bond properties were optimized by changing the shape of fibers tensile loads, lies in the possibility of using crack spacing (or the
from smooth to twisted. Conversely, Kwon et al. [8] used a material number of cracks) as a relevant parameter for measuring the fiber
design concept based on a multi-scale fiber-reinforcement system. synergy.
They introduced a hybrid fiber-reinforced concrete in which, as
stated by Banthia and Sappakittipakorn [9], ≪ there is positive 2. A new procedure for assessing the synergistic effect of
interaction between the fibers, and the resulting hybrid performance hybridization
exceeds the sum of individual fiber performances. This phenomenon is
often termed “Synergy”.» In the case of hybrid UHP-FRC, assessing the effectiveness of
Blending fibers of different geometry is a possible manner to adding different fibers to the same ultra-high strength matrix is of
create this synergy. Indeed, short fibers (herein called micro-fibers) primary interest. In particular, when the reinforcement consists of
enhance the fracture toughness of the cementitious matrix in two types of fibers, i.e., micro- and macro-fibers, it seems appro-
tension. Thus, after the initial elastic behaviour (first stage), the priate to apply the formula proposed by Banthia et al. [15]:
mechanical response of FRC can show a delayed micro-cracking
stage (second stage), because of the bridging action performed by PCFmicroþmacro
Synergy ¼ 1 (1)
the short thin fibers [10]. Conversely, the beneficial effects of long PCFmicro þ PCFmacro
fibers (herein called macro-fibers) are particularly evident in the
third stage, and consist of arresting and delaying the growth of where, PCFmicro and PCFmacro are the post-cracking factors of mon-
macro-cracks [11]. ofiber UHP-FRCs reinforced with micro- and macro-fibers, respec-
In some cases, the hybridization of fiber-reinforcement is more tively; and PCFmicroþmacro is post-cracking factor for the hybrid UHP-
convenient in comparison with a monofiber FRC containing the FRC containing both the types of fibers. Hybridization is advanta-
same macro-fiber volume fraction, as mechanical performances geous when Synergy is positive [15].
[12,13] and workability [14] can be improved, and production costs As uniaxial tensile tests are used to tailor Level 3 FRC (Fig. 1c), it
decreases. Thus, an important aspect is to quantify the synergistic is not recommendable to assume fracture toughness in tension (or
effect of the fiber, in order to ascertain whether or not the hy- the energy absorption capacity g) as a post-cracking factor. Such a
bridization is appropriate. Synergy should be evaluated with parameter cannot be easily predicted, because the average strain at
respect to a measurable parameter, such as the flexural toughness peak of stress (or the condition of strain localization) cannot be
factor quantified by Banthia et al. [15] through four point bending defined a priori. On the other hand, g is directly proportional to the
tests. However, such tests cannot be used to investigate the strain length of the strain hardening, and to the number of macro-cracks
hardening stage in Level 2 and Level 3 FRC, because the presence of developed during this stage. Hence, PCF, herein assumed to be the
a strain-softening (or a strain hardening) depends on the type of number of cracks, can be derived from crack spacing through the
structure [16]. As stated by Model Code 2010 [5], <<Softening following formula:
behaviour in tension (which occurs in Level 1 FRC) can correspond to
hardening behaviour in bending, and a softening material in bending L
PCF ¼ 1 þ (2)
can result in a monotonically increasing load in (a more complex) crack spacing
structure». Thus, only uniaxial tensile test, which can reveal the
strain softening/hardening at material level, can be used to tailor where L ¼ length of the cracking zone in tension where crack
UHP-FRC made with macro- and micro-fibers. spacing (or the number of cracks) is measured.
As micro-fibers can bridge micro-cracks without preventing the
A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29 21

propagation of macro-cracks, PCFmicro ¼ 1 in the specimens con- 3. Modelling the crack spacing for a theoretical evaluation of
taining only micro-fibers, because they generally fail with a single synergy
crack. Thus, the substitution of Eq. (2) into Eq. (1) yields:
In strain hardening cementitious composites, the values of crack
spacing included in Eq. (3) can also be theoretically evaluated with
1þ L
crack spacinghybrid the model proposed by Fantilli et al. [2]. Specifically, a range of
Synergy ¼ L
1 (3) possible crack spacings can be computed for Level 2 and Level 3 FRC
2þ crack spacingmono
[2], containing a well-defined volume of macro-fibers Vf (see
With respect to the work of Banthia et al. [15], the definition of Fig. 3a). During the hardening stage, the average crack spacing
synergy (i.e., Eq. (1)) does not vary, but the procedure used to ranges between ltr and 2 ltr, where ltr ¼ transfer length, in which
compute PCF is completely different. Instead of the post cracking slips between reinforcement and cementitious matrix occur
toughness, measured in three point bending, the distance between (Fig. 3b). Transfer length can be obtained by adapting the tension-
the cracks that occurs in uniaxial tensile tests is herein used to stiffening equations of RC structures to the fiber-matrix interaction,
obtain PCF. Evidently, in Eq. (3) the values of crack spacing must be as in the case of monofiber Level 2 FRC, and assuming that micro-
those of monofiber and hybrid specimens having the same macro- fibers are smeared into the matrix [2,17]:
fiber volume fraction Vf.
The values of Synergy depend on the minimum amount of  pffiffiffi 
ðpf kB Vf 2Af kC paffiffiffi Þ
macro-fibers, called Vf,cr,hybrid and Vf,cr,mono, which produce strain ln
ðpf kB Vf þ2Af kC a Þ
hardening and multiple cracking in the monofiber and hybrid ltr ¼  pffiffiffi (4)
composites, respectively. According to the experimental and
theoretical results obtained by Fantilli et al. on hybrid Level 2 FRC where,
[17], Vf,cr,hybrid is generally higher than Vf,cr,mono also for the Level 3
FRC. Under this condition, the diagram Synergy vs. macro-fiber !
volume fraction Vf of Fig. 2 can be divided into three sectors. pf kB 1 Vf
a¼ þ (5)
In the first sector, when Vf < Vf,cr,hybrid, both monofiber and Af Ef Ec
hybrid composites show a strain softening behaviour, and Eq. (3)
gives Synergy ¼ constant ¼ 0.5 (see Fig. 2). The negative value In both the equations, Af and pf are the area and perimeter of
of Synergy indicates the inopportunity of hybridization [15]. Syn- macro-fiber cross-section, respectively; Ec and Ef are the Young's
ergy is most likely positive in the second sector, where moduli of cement-based matrix (reinforced with micro-fibers) and
Vf,cr,hybrid < Vf < Vf,cr, mono. Indeed, the monofiber composite con- of the macro-fiber, respectively. Finally, kB and kC are the bond
tinues to fail with a single crack (and the denominator of Eq. (3) parameter and the cohesive parameter, as defined in Fig. 4 [2].
remains equal to 2), but the hybrid composite shows multiple Hence, Eq. (2) and Eq. (3) can be respectively rewritten as
cracking and the numerator of Eq. (3) can be much higher than 2. In follows:
the third sector, where Vf > Vf,cr, mono, both the composites show a
strain hardening behaviour, even if the number of cracks is L
certainly higher in the case of the hybrid fiber-reinforcement. Thus, PCF ¼ 1 þ (6)
b ltr
the values of Synergy can be larger than zero, but lower than the
values measured in the second sector.
1þbl L
Synergy ¼ tr;
1 (7)
2þb ltr; mono

where b ¼ coefficient variable from 1 to 2 (as the crack spacing

ranges between ltr and 2 ltr - Fig. 3a).
For a given strain hardening cementitious composite, Eq. (4)
provides the range of the possible crack spacings, which in turn
depends on the amount of macro-fibers (i.e., Vf). If Vf decreases,
transfer length (and crack spacing) increases, and tends towards
infinity (see Fig. 3a) when the macro-fiber volume fraction reaches
the following critical value [2]:

0 vffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi 1
Af 2ðkC Þ2 u ðE Þ2 pf kB
Vf ;cr ¼ @1 þ t1 þ c A (8)
Ec pf kB Af Es ðkC Þ2

Thus, the condition of multiple cracking and strain hardening

cannot occur when Vf  Vf,cr.
The values of the critical content of macro-fiber volume fraction
in the hybrid and monofiber composites, i.e. Vf,cr,hybrid and Vf,cr,mono,
are not the same, because the parameters kC has kB used in Eq. (8)
(and Eq. (8) as well) are different.
As shown in Fig. 4a, kC approximates the first part of the ficti-
tious crack model (sc-w) of the cementitious matrix (i.e., the post
Fig. 2. Qualitative description of the Synergy as a function of the macro-fiber volume cracking stage of Level 0 FRC depicted in Fig. 1a), and can be
fraction. computed as follows (Fig. 4a):
22 A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29

Fig. 3. Modelling crack spacing in Level 2 and Level 3 FRC [2]; (a) Range of possible crack spacing; (b) definition of transfer length ltr.

Fig. 4. The cohesive and bond parameters: (a) fictitious crack model of the cementitious matrix; (b) bond-slip relationship of the macro-fiber in the cementitious matrix.

experimental curve is not always effective for the evaluation of

1 fct2 kB.
kC ¼ (9)  Finally, the average value of kB should also take into account the
2 Gf
shape of macro-fiber, including the presence of hooks at the
where Gf is fracture energy. Three-point bending tests are generally ends.
used to evaluate Gf when the matrix is not sufficiently ductile, and
the sc-w diagrams cannot be measured by means of uniaxial tensile The most suitable way to compute kB is therefore the best fitting
tests. Obviously, in hybrid composites, the cementitious matrix of experimental data, which need to be measured with tensile tests
containing micro-fibers is more ductile (i.e., kC is lower) than that of performed on the monofiber and hybrid composites, and not on a
the monofiber composites. single fiber. This procedure is similar to that used by Wille et al. [1],
According to Fantilli et al. [2], the bond parameter kB included in even if the orientation factor is herein not separated, but included,
Eq. (4) is the slope of the secant model that linearizes the first part within the value of kB.
of bond-slip t-s relationship (Fig. 4b). Differently from kC, a direct
evaluation of kB is practically impossible for both monofiber and 4. Experimental study
hybrid composites, due to the following reasons:
To check the reliability of the proposed approach to assess the
 It depends on the inclination of the macro-fibers with respect to synergy of a hybrid fiber-reinforcement, an experimental campaign
the crack (snubbing phenomenon). As all the inclinations, from has been carried out on four series of concretes subjected to uni-
0 to 90 , are equally possible, it is necessary to perform a huge axial tension.
number of pullout tests to obtain the average value of kB [18].
 For a given inclination angle, all the tests show an irregular 4.1. Materials and mixtures
shape of the bond-slip relationship depicted in Fig. 4b, espe-
cially in the first part (when s / 0), because of the precision of Series 1 is composed of a single group of unreinforced ultra-high
the testing apparatus. In this stage, the linearization of the strength concrete, whose constituents and compressive strength
A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29 23

are reported in Table 1. For such a concrete, the following weight displacement at a velocity of 0.5 mm/min. Average extension was
proportions were adopted: water-binder ratio (W/B) ¼ 0.15, sand- measured over the central gauge length (L ¼ 80 mm) by means of
binder ratio (S/B) ¼ 0.38, Wollastonite-binder ratio (Wo/B) ¼ 0.13, two LVDTs, placed on the opposite side of the member and attached
Superplasticizer-binder ratio (SP/B) ¼ 0.017, and anti-forming to mounting frames, firmly clamped on to the specimens. Fig. 5b
agent-binder ratio (D/B) ¼ 0.0002. In accordance with the mate- shows strain localization in this zone, where also average crack
rial design concept based on the multi-scale fiber reinforcement spacing is measured.
system, specific procedures were also followed for the mixing and The specimens of Series 1 and Series 2 show a single crack when
curing stages (see Kwon et al. [8]). subjected to tensile loads, therefore they can be considered as Level
Series 2 also comprises a single group of samples made with the 0 and Level 1 FRC, respectively (Fig. 1a). Uniaxial tensile tests per-
same concrete of Series 1, but reinforced with 1% in volume of formed on these specimens provides the fictitious crack model
straight micro-fibres. Series 3 includes 4 groups of specimens, (Fig. 4a) of the matrixes used in the monofiber (Series 3) and hybrid
made with the cementitious matrix of Series 1 and reinforced with (Series 4) composites. In the latter, fiber volume fraction Vf is only
4 amounts (0.5%, 1.0%, 1.5%, and 2.0% in volume) of steel macro- referred to the amount of macro-fibers (i.e., HL), whereas SS micro-
fibers having hooked ends. The main geometrical and mechanical fibers are assumed to be a part of the cement-based matrix. Indeed,
properties of the macro- and micro-fibers, named respectively HL according to Betterman et al. [11], hybrid composites show a mul-
and SS, are summarized in Table 2. Finally, the four groups of tiscale structure of cracking, in which micro-fibers bridge micro-
specimens composing Series 4 are made with the cementitious cracks, and macro-fibers prevent the sudden propagation of
matrix of Series 1, a constant quantity of SS fibers (1% in volume), macro-cracks. Thus, micro-fibers (used to reinforce Series 2 and
and four different contents of HL macro-fibers (0.5%, 1.0%, 1.5%, and Series 4 specimens) can be assumed to be a part of the cement-
2.0% in volume). In other words, Series 1 and Series 2 are the based matrix.
matrices of monofiber (Series 3) and hybrid (Series 4) UHP-FRCs, Nevertheless, the direct measurement of the fictitious crack
respectively. model through uniaxial tensile test, as carried out in normal
All the possible combinations of macro- and micro-fibers are strength matrixes [17], cannot be easily performed in high strength
summarised in Table 3, where an alphanumeric name is assigned to concretes. Indeed, around the peak of stress, the strain energy
the groups of each series. Specifically, a number comprised be- stored in the specimen makes the direct tensile tests unstable, even
tween 1 and 4 (i.e., the numbers of the series) follows the letter S, under crack opening displacement control [21]. For this reason,
whereas the last two numbers indicate the amount of HL macro- Series 1 and Series 2 composites were also tested in three point
fibers added to the ultra-high strength concrete matrix. Finally, bending in order to measure the fracture energy Gf (Fig. 4a) with
the workability properties (i.e., the table flow) of all the cement- the size-effect method [22]. The beams, whose geometrical prop-
based mixture investigated herein are also reported in Table 3. erties are in accordance with those suggested by RILEM TC 89 FTM
[22] (see Fig. 5c and d), were tested by means of the same 30 kN
capacity Instron testing machine, at a velocity of 0.1 mm/min. They
4.2. Specimens and test setups
were examined at three different scales (SF ¼ scale factor ¼ 1, 0.5,
and 0.25), and three samples were cast for each SF (in total 9 beams
With all the groups of UHP-FRCs defined in Table 3, “dumbbell
for Series 1, and 9 for Series 2, were tested).
type” specimens were prepared. The geometrical dimensions of
these specimens, tested in uniaxial tension and depicted in Fig. 5a,
are in accordance with the Recommendations of the Japan Society 5. Experimental results
of Civil Engineers [19] for Level 2 FRC composites. Loads were
vertically applied with a 30 kN capacity Instron testing machine, Fig. 6 shows the stress-strain curves obtained from the uniaxial
using “fix-fix” support conditions in order to activate most of the tensile tests performed on three “dumbbell type” specimens of
material's strain capacity [20]. Tests were controlled by vertical Series 1 (Fig. 6a) and on the same number of specimens of Series 2
(Fig. 6b). In these diagrams, the total absence of the post peak
branch is evident. Because of the high strength, a huge amount of
Table 1
energy is stored within the specimens during the ascending branch.
Composition of the cementitious matrix.
This causes a sudden failure at the peak of stress, and the
Material Density Properties descending branch cannot be recorded by the test apparatus.
However, these ascending branches makes the measure of the
Binder 3.01 Composed by low heat elastic properties be possible. Table 4 shows the average values of
cement (82 wt.%) and
the elastic modulus Ec and of the tensile strength fct, evaluated in
silica fume (18 wt.%)
Sand 2.60 Average diameter 0.212 mm the specimens of Series 1 and Series 2, respectively. In the same
Wollastonite 2.90 Table, the average values of the fracture energy Gf, measured by
Superplasticizer 1.05 Polycarboxylic acid system means of the three point bending tests [22], and those of kC given
Antifoaming agent 1.0 by Eq. (9), are also reported.
Compressive strength fc ¼ 182.4 MPa
As expected, the fracture toughness is higher in the specimens

Table 2
Properties of the steel fibers used to reinforce UHP-FRC.

Type Density Length Diameter Tensile strength Young's Modulus

(g/cm3) Lf df (MPa) Ef
(mm) (mm) (GPa)

SS 7.85 6 160 2000 206

HL 7.85 30 380 3000 206
24 A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29

Table 3 stress-strain curves depicted in Fig. 7aed. In the specimens S3_05

The monofiber and hybrid reinforced concretes tested in the present project. (Fig. 7a) and S3_10 (Fig. 7b), strain softening appears in the post
Series Group Table flow Fiber content cracking stage, and failure occurs at onset of cracking. According to
(mm  mm) Fig. 1, such cement-based composites cannot be considered as UHP-
(%) (%) FRC. Although such FRCs exhibit a high tensile strength (y 13 MPa),
neither strain hardening nor multiple cracking are observed. This is
1 S1_00 overflow 0 0
2 S2_00 300  300 1.0 0 clearly evident also in Fig. 8a and b, where the photos of typical
3 S3_05 280  280 0 0.5 crack patterns reveal the presence of a single crack in both the
S3_10 270  270 0 1.0 specimens S3_05 and of S3_10. Conversely, the specimens S3_15
S3_15 260  260 0 1.5
(Fig. 7c) and S3_20 (Fig. 7d) are undoubtedly UHP-FRC, because, in
S3_20 245  245 0 2
4 S4_05 275  280 1.0 0.5 addition to high strength, also a high strain capacity and the
S4_10 270  260 1.0 1.0 presence of more than one crack are observed (see Fig. 8c and d).
S4_15 250  250 1.0 1.5 The stress-strain curves of the hybrid composites, and the cor-
S4_20 240  240 1.0 2 responding photos of crack patterns, are reported in Fig. 7eeh and
Fig. 8eeh, respectively. Strain hardening appears in almost all of the
specimens, except for those reinforced with 0.5% HL (S4_05 -
of Series 2, because of the presence of 1% in volume of SS fibers. Figs. 7e and 8e). Hence, with respect to monofiber FRC (i.e. Series 3),
Consequently, the values of the cohesive parameter kC (and, thus, in which Level 3 FRC is reached when the volume of macro-fibers is
the slope of the first part of the fictitious crack model) is higher in equal to, or higher than, 1.5%, in hybrid FRC (i.e. Series 4) multiple
the cementitious matrix of Series 1. cracking can also appear in presence of a lower volume (1%) of HL
Subjected to tensile actions, the specimens of Series 3 show the macro-fibers.

Fig. 5. Experimental campaign on different fiber-reinforced concretes: (a) geometrical properties of the “dumbbell type” specimens under uniaxial tension [19]; (b) multiple
cracking in the central gauge length of the “dumbbell type” specimens; (c)e(d) three point bending tests on notched specimens [22].
A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29 25

values of crack spacing as a function of the macro-fiber volume

fraction, both in the case of experimental analysis (Fig. 9a) and of
Eq. (4) (Fig. 9b). The average curve of the tensile tests defines an
area A1 in the diagram of Fig. 9a. Similarly, for the same range of the
macro-fiber volume fractions (Vf,min e Vf,max), the theoretical values
of crack spacing, modelled by Eq. (4) and referred to 1.5 ltr, gives the
area A2 in Fig. 9b. As A2 varies with the bond parameter, the best
value of kB has to nullify the following index:

A1 A2
g¼ (10)
For Series 3 and Series 4, the values of kB corresponding to g ¼ 0
are 2700 MPa/mm and 2100 MPa/mm, respectively.

6. Comparison of model results and experimental data

In the case of Series 3, assuming kB ¼ 2700 MPa/mm, most of the

crack spacing values are within the range bordered by the curves ltr
- Vf and 2 ltr-Vf defined by Eq. (4) and depicted in Fig. 10. For these
monofiber cement-based composites, Eq. (8) gives Vf,cr ¼ 1.3% as
the minimum amount of HL macro-fibers in order to have a UHP-
FRC. Nevertheless, when Vf ¼ Vf,cr, only fibers longer than the
adopted macro-fibers (of length Lf ¼ 30 mm) can generate multiple
cracking and an average crack spacing value ranged by the mini-
mum and the maximum theoretical distances (ltr and 2 ltr, respec-
tively). In general, the multiple cracking regime is possible if the
half-length of the fiber is longer than the maximum crack spacing
(i.e., 2 ltr < Lf/2). Thus, Fig. 10 suggests Vf,cr (Series 3) ¼ 1.45% as the
minimum volume fraction of steel macro-fibers. For these reasons,
the specimens S3_05 and S3_10 do not show neither strain hard-
ening, nor multiple cracking.
If kB ¼ 2100 MPa/mm is assumed for the hybrid specimens of
Fig. 6. The stress-strain diagrams of the ultra-high strength concretes: (a) Series 1; (b)
Series 2.
Series 4, all the measured crack spacing are ranged by the curves ltr
-Vf and 2 ltr -Vf (Fig. 11). Moreover, for the composites of this Series,
Eq. (8) gives Vf,cr ¼ 0.8%, even if, at Vf ¼ Vf,cr, only HL macro-fibers
Table 4 longer than 30 mm can generate an average crack spacing ranged
The mechanical parameters measured in the specimens of Series 1 and Series 2. by ltr and 2 ltr. Conversely, Fig. 11 seems to suggest Vf,cr (Series 4) ¼
Series Group Ec fct Gf kC 0.98% as the minimum volume fraction of the adopted macro-
(GPa) (MPa) (N/m) (N/mm3) fibers. For this reason, only the specimens reinforced with 0.5% in
1 S1_00 20.3 13.1 153 472 volume of HL macro-fibers do not show neither multiple cracking
2 S2_00 21.3 12.7 259 313 (see Table 6), nor strain hardening (in Fig. 7e).
The synergy of hybridization in Series 4 mixtures, with respect
to the monofiber mixtures of Series 3 and Series 2, can be evaluated
In the case of Series 3, only when the volume fraction of HL fi- by substituting the values of crack spacing experimentally
bers is higher than 2%, do the specimens show a maximum tensile measured into Eq. (3). In the same equation, L is assumed to be the
stress higher than the strength of the cementitious matrix (about length of the cracking zone, or the central gauge length in the
5%). Conversely, the specimens of Series 4 show a tensile strength “dumbbell type” specimens (L ¼ 80 mm in Fig. 5a). With the
higher than that of plain matrix even in the presence of 1.5% in average values of cracks spacing reported in Table 6, the four filled
volume of HL macro-fibers (about 14% for S4_15 and 40% for S4_20). circles depicted in Fig. 12 can be obtained. The position of these
The main mechanical properties of the Series 3 and Series 4 points within the Synergy vs. Vf diagram is in accordance with the
composites, measured on the average stress-strain curves reported qualitative description given in Section 2 and illustrated in Fig. 2. In
in Fig. 7, are collected in Table 5. When multiple cracking occurs, it fact, when the content of macro-fiber is lower than Vf,cr (Series 4) ¼
is possible to measure the average distance between the cracks 0.98% (i.e., in the case of S3_05 and S4_05), Synergy is 0.5 and the
within the central gauge length of the specimen (i.e., L ¼ 80 mm - hybridization is not convenient because both hybrid and monofiber
Fig. 5a). More precisely, cracks are counted by means of a micro- composites fail with a single crack. On the contrary, Synergy is
scope with a magnification of 200 times, and then the average crack positive, and advantages are gained from hybridization, for all the
spacing is calculated by dividing the gauge length with the number macro-fibers volume fractions larger than Vf,cr (Series 3) ¼ 1.45%, as in
of cracks plus one (see Eq. (2)). The values of the measured crack the cases of the couples S3_15, S4_14 and S3_20, S4_20. Never-
spacing are reported in Table 6. In all the cases, the higher the theless, in these composites, Synergy is slightly higher than zero
amount of macro-fibers, the higher the number of cracks, and the (Synergy is about 0.3) and remains more or less constant regardless
lower the crack spacing. of the macro-fiber volume fraction (see Fig. 12).
The experimental measure of crack spacing (Fig. 5a) can also be The highest values of Synergy can be obtained when the content
used to define the bond parameter kB. Precisely, Fig. 9 shows the of macro-fiber is comprised between Vf,cr (Series 4) ¼ 0.98% and Vf,cr
(Series 3) ¼ 1.45%. This is due to the fact that multiple cracking (and
26 A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29

Fig. 7. The stress-strain diagrams of the ultra-high strength concretes: (a)e(d) Series 3; (e)e(h) Series 4.

strain hardening) only occurs in the hybrid composites of Series 4, macro-fibers.

whereas those of Series 3 show a strain softening behaviour (and a As Fig. 12 shows, the four values of Synergy obtained with Eq. (3),
single crack at failure). Specifically, Synergy is 4.3 in the couple of and by using the experimental measurements of crack spacing
specimens S3_10, S4_10, both reinforced with 1% in volume of (Table 6), are close to the curves of Synergy vs. Vf calculated with Eq.
A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29 27

Fig. 8. The crack pattern in the ultra-high strength concretes: (a)e(d) Series 3; (e)e(h) Series 4.

Table 5
The average mechanical properties of the specimens of Series 3 and Series 4.

Series Group Maximum stress (MPa) Strain at the peak of stress (%) g

3 S3_05 12.0 0.07 4.0

S3_10 11.3 0.07 3.8
S3_15 12.1 0.53 57.9
S3_20 14.5 0.73 94.4
4 S4_05 12.9 0.13 12.2
S4_10 11.9 0.20 19.6
S4_15 16.5 1.07 152.4
S4_20 19.3 0.93 152.9

(7). In the latter equation, the values of kB previously computed are (Series 3) composites, respectively. Within these discontinuities,
used to evaluate ltr with Eq. (4). As 1  b  2, Eq. (7) furnishes a the peak of Synergy, and thus the maximum advantages of hy-
range of values, which is particularly wide when the macro-fiber bridization, is reached when the macro-fiber volume fraction is
volume fraction is higher than Vf,cr (Series 4) ¼ 0.98%, and lower slightly lower than Vf,cr (Series 3).
than Vf,cr (Series 3) ¼ 1.45%. For contents of macro-fibers outside this
interval, Synergy is practically constant, regardless of the value of b. 7. Conclusions
More precisely, Synergy is 0.5 when the content of macro-fiber is
lower than Vf,cr (Series 4) ¼ 0.98%, whereas Synergy is about 0.3 when Based on the theoretical and experimental analyses performed
the quantity of macro-fibers is higher than Vf,cr (Series 3) ¼ 1.45%. on different UHP-FRCs subjected to tensile actions, the following
Finally, it must be observed that in correspondence of Vf,cr (Series conclusions can be drawn.
4) and Vf,cr (Series 3) the curves of Eq. (7) exhibit two discontinuities in
Fig. 12 (similar to those of Fig. 2), because these macro-fiber volume 1. In hybrid UHP-FRC, micro-fibers generally enhance the tough-
fractions represent the transition from the strain-softening to the ness in tension of the cementitious matrix (that is, reduce kC),
strain-hardening stage in the hybrid (Series 4) and monofiber whereas macro-fibers can bridge the cracks because of the bond
28 A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29

Table 6
Crack spacing measured in the specimens of Series 3 and Series 4.

Series Group Crack spacing


3 S3_05 e e
S3_10 e e
S3_15 6.8
7.3 Average
9.5 8.2
S3_20 7.5
5.8 Average
5.20 7.1
4 S4_05 e
S4_10 9.5
10.4 Average
8.6 8.3
S4_15 5.8
5.7 Average Fig. 10. Range of the possible crack spacing values and the experimental results of the
4.9 5.7 specimens of Series 3.
S4_20 5.5
3.6 fraction (Vf,cr), is in the reality higher than the theoretical value
4.2 Average of Vf,cr, because the maximum crack spacing (that is, 2ltr) cannot
4.5 4.7
be lower than the half length of macro-fibers.
4. Crack distance can also be used to assess the synergy of strain
hardening cementitious composites and, therefore, to quantify
phenomenon. Thus, when multiple crack occurs, crack spacing the effectiveness of hybridization. As a result, in the UHP-FRCs
is always a function of the volume fraction of the longest fibers. investigated herein, the maximum value of synergy can be
More precisely, the value of average crack spacing is ranged achieved when the macro-fiber volume fraction is slightly lower
between the transfer length ltr and its double 2ltr, according to than the critical fiber volume fraction of the monofiber
Eq. (4). composite.
2. Eq. (4) can be effectively used to model the behaviour of mon-
ofiber and hybrid UHP-FRC, if the bond parameter kB is defined The proposed investigation is so far limited to the analysis of the
through the best fitting of the experimental data. Such data mechanical performances of UHP-FRC. As the content of cement
should be obtained from the uniaxial tensile tests on cementi- and the cost of materials are extremely high, further theoretical and
tious composites, rather than from the pullout of the longest experimental studies should be devoted to relate the synergy of
fiber. fiber hybridization with the sustainability of UHP-FRC.
3. The values of ltr increase when the fiber volume fraction of
macro-fibers decreases. However, the critical fiber volume

Fig. 9. The average values of crack spacing used to compute kB: (a) area A1 defined by the experimental results; (b) area A2 defined by 1.5 ltr (Eq. (4)).
A.P. Fantilli et al. / Cement and Concrete Composites 86 (2018) 19e29 29

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Af: area of the macro-fiber cross section

A1 and A2: areas, defined within the crack distance vs. fiber volume fraction diagram,
obtained the case of experimental and numerical analyses, respectively (see
Fig. 9)
df: diameter of the macro-fibers
Fig. 12. Evaluation of the fiber synergy as a function of the macro-fiber volume Ec: Young's modulus of the cement-based matrix (in hybrid composites, it includes
fraction. the presence of micro-fibers)
Ef: Young's modulus of the macro-fibers
fct: tensile strength of cement-based composite
Acknowledgments g: energy absorption capacity of UHP-FRC
Gf: fracture energy of a cement-based matrix (in hybrid composites, it includes the
presence of micro-fibers)
The research described in this paper was supported by Japan kB: bond parameter of macro-fibers
Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant No. 267167, and Grant kC: cohesive parameter of cement-based matrix (in hybrid composites, it includes
L16545) and by the Italian Ministry of University and Research the presence of micro-fibers)
L: central gauge length in the “dumbbell type” specimens (see Fig. 5a)
(PRIN 2015). The authors are grateful to both the sponsors for the Lf: length of macro-fibers
financial supports. ltr: transfer length of a macro-fiber in a cement-based matrix (in hybrid composites,
it includes the presence of micro-fibers)
pf: perimeter of a macro-fiber cross section
References s: slip between macro-fiber and cementitious matrix
SF: scale factor for the three point bending tests
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