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Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205

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Properties of concrete reinforced with different kinds of industrial waste

fibre materials
Mohammed Seddik Meddah a,*, Mohamed Bencheikh b
Dept of Social and Environmental Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Hiroshima, 1-4-1, Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima 739-8527, Japan
Département de Génie Civil, Université de Msila, Rue Ishbilia, 28000-Msila, Algeria

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

Article history: Nowadays, the use of different types of sub-products in cement-based materials has become a common
Received 12 March 2009 practice in concrete industry. This paper discusses the feasibility of adding metallic and polypropylene
Received in revised form 29 May 2009 by-product fibres as reinforcement of normal concrete. The effects of the incorporation of various types
Accepted 18 June 2009
of waste metallic fibres (WMF) and polypropylene fibres (WPF) on the mechanical properties of fibre-
Available online 17 July 2009
reinforced concrete were experimentally investigated. A normal concrete with a compressive strength
of 30 MPa was used as a control mixture. The influence of type, volume and length of WF on the compres-
sive and flexural strengths, and toughness of fibres reinforced concrete (FRC) is evaluated. The results
Flexural and compressive strengths
Waste fibre-reinforced concrete
obtained have shown that the WPF decreases the compressive strength of WFRC, especially when using
Toughness long fibres with high volume fraction. A slight decrease of the compressive strength was also observed
Residual strength with the composites containing more than 2% of the WMF. However, adding the WPF and the hybrid
Load-carrying capacity fibres increases the flexural strength of the WFRC. It has been observed that the composites reinforced
Fibre distribution with the WPF is more advantageous in terms of post-cracking behaviour and load-carrying capacity as
Porosity compared to the composites reinforced with the WMF even in some cases, the WPF performs better than
the multimodal composites. The results have shown that generally, ductility, toughness, and especially
the post-cracking behaviour of the WFRC are significantly improved when using the multimodal compos-
ites compared to composites reinforced with the mono-fibres system. Results regarding orientation and
distribution of fibres into the cement matrix, and porosity and their effect on the WFRC performance
were also discussed.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction which considerably improve strength and ductility of the material

Over the last decades, fibre-reinforced concrete (FRC) has be- Several research works have been done to quantify the en-
come widely used in different structural and non-structural appli- hanced properties of FRC materials and, particularly to compare
cations such as pavements, floors, overlays, industrial slabs, and the effect of various types of fibres [6]. Balaguru and Shah [7] have
shotcerte linings, . . . , etc., where the major concern is toughness reported that in general, the effect of the addition of steel–fibre on
and first-crack strength in flexure [1,2]. Banthia et al. have esti- compressive strength is insignificant while the authors consider
mated that more than 150 000 metric tonnes of FRC have been that in some cases, up to 25% increase in compressive strength
used [3]. was found. Meanwhile, considerable improvement in strain at
Depending on the distribution and orientations of fibres in stress peak and toughness are usually observed.
cement matrix, the addition of fibres makes the cementitious Nowadays, it is well established that the incorporation of steel
material more isotropic and transforms it from a brittle to a qua- fibres improves engineering performance of structural and non-
si-ductile material. In fact, the real benefits of adding fibres to con- structural concrete, including better crack resistance, ductility,
crete become evident at the stage of post-cracking. Before that, the and toughness, as well as an enhanced tensile strength, resistance
fibre has no significant effect on concrete mechanical properties to fatigue [2,8], impact [2], blast loading, and abrasion as reported
[4]. It is believed that the randomly oriented fibres in concrete by Bindiganville and Banthia [8]. Flexural strength, tensile
control the opening of macrocracks and limit crack propagation strength, strain capacity [7] and spalling are also enhanced [9].
However, such improvement can only be reached when using the
appropriate type and amount of fibres.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +81 82 424 4373; fax: +81 82 424 7786. A general consensus can be found in literature concerning the
E-mail address: (M.S. Meddah). efficiency of steel fibres in controlling crack widths in cement ma-

0950-0618/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205 3197

trix. Rossi et al. [10] have reported that fibres, in lengths higher significantly improves the behaviour of composite materials, espe-
than 20 mm, diameter greater than 0.4 mm and in commonly used cially enhancing the post-cracking behaviour of the cement matrix.
proportions less than 2% in volume, mainly act after the cracking of The results have indicated that waste fibres properly selected and
the matrix. designed could reach quite the same performance that may ob-
Furlan and De Hanai [11] have reported that the characteristics tained when using standard industrial fibres. These waste fibres
of concrete significantly change when a large volume of fibres is might be, in same cases, a valuable alternative material to regular
added. However, the authors have observed that tensile strength fibres.
of concrete is not considerably modified when the volume of fibre
added is lower than 2% while it improves ductility and control of 3. Experimental investigation
cracks, even in case of very low volume lower than 0.5% [12] such
3.1. Materials
as polypropylene or organic fibres. In fact, polymeric fibres for con-
crete reinforcement have been renewed interests because the sev- 3.1.1. Cement matrix
eral advantages offered by this type of fibres. Their low density, Ordinary Portland cement corresponding to ASTM Type I cement with a specific
viscoelastic nature and noncorrosive materials are the major gravity of 3.16 was used for all concrete mixtures. Coarse aggregates were a crushed
attractive properties [6]. limestone with a maximum size of 16 mm and a specific gravity of 2.68. Natural
siliceous river sand having a fineness modulus of 1.95 and a specific gravity of
Recently, the inclusion of different types of by-products in ce-
2.54 was used as a fine aggregate. Both coarse and fine aggregates were batched
ment-based materials becomes more and more a common practice in a saturated surface dry (SSD) conditions. A commercial polynaphthalene sulfo-
[13–17]; however, most of these investigations have mainly focused nates type superplasticizer conforming to ASTM C494-92 Type F having a density
on the use of sub-products as supplementary cementitious materi- of 1.16 and 36% of solids content was used as high-range water-reducing agent
(HRWRA) to produce a workable WFRC. The dosage of superplasticizer in mass basis
als, mineral admixtures or recycled aggregates in concrete. It is ex-
was 1.5% of the cement content and it was kept constant in order to eliminate any
pected that various other types of solid and industrial recycled probable effect of this parameter on the properties of hardened concrete.
waste by-products can also be used in concrete materials for differ-
ent purposes. The present study investigates the efficiency of some 3.1.2. Fibres
types of metallic and polymeric waste by-products incorporated in Two types of fibres with various lengths and added at different contents were
cement-based materials as fibres reinforcement. To date, a very lim- used with normal concrete to establish the applicability of the waste fibres as rein-
forcement for cementitious material. Three sizes of the polypropylene fibres were
ited number of studies have been reported on the use of polypropyl-
selected, 60, 50 and 30 mm while for the metallic fibres two sizes of 60 and
ene and metallic waste sub-products as fibres reinforcement in l 6 30 mm were chosen. According to the manufacturer notice of the original mate-
concrete. On the other hand, it seems that usually the waste fibres rial, the tensile strength of metallic and polypropylene fibres was 200–500 MPa and
used were rigorously selected in terms of types and properties, 450 MPa, respectively.
The waste metallic fibres used in this study were a sub-product collected from
and may subjected to pre-treatment before incorporated in cement
locally available metal lathe workshop while the waste polypropylene fibres were
matrix. Conversely, in the present study, and as a distinguished as- obtained from polypropylene storage bags. This type of storage bags are popular
pect, waste sub-products fibres were added to concrete without and commonly accepted sampling containers for transport and packaging for wide
any major selection followed the shredding process or pre-treat- range of different type of materials such as cementitious materials, sand, as well as
ment such as cleaning or removing the undesirable materials. various food products. The WPF resulted are very similar to the standard industrial
PPF frequently used as reinforcement for cement matrix. Both metallic and polypro-
The main objectives of this paper are, firstly, is to assess the fea-
pylene wastes were used as fibres for concrete reinforcement without any kind of
sibility of the inclusion of waste metallic and polypropylene fibres pre-treatment.
as reinforcement for concrete, and secondly, to evaluate the effect The polypropylene filaments and the metallic pieces recovered were cut in var-
of waste fibres characteristics and mixture parameters on hard- ious lengths of fibres. It is interesting to note that some unsuitable material such as
ened properties of concrete. The effect of fibres characteristics on metallic dust, carbon black and oil was observed on the surface of the metal fibres.
These resulting waste metallic fibres (WMF) have shown an irregular shape while
fresh concrete is not presented here and will be the object of fur- all the waste polypropylene fibres (WPF) were straight, smooth and flat. In this
ther assessment in future works. In this investigation, the mechan- study, the geometry of fibre was not considered as a parameter here. However, this
ical properties of the waste fibre-reinforced concrete (WFRC) are may have an effect on the mechanical properties of the composites. In addition to
studied using compressive and flexural strength and toughness these to two types of WF, a short standard industrial steel fibre (SF) with 15 mm
length and a straight shape was used in order to compare the performance of the
as they are the fundamental parameters for strength design of con-
WMFRC with the SFRC. Table 1 shows the main properties of the fibres used in
crete structural elements reinforced with fibres, such as slabs and the current investigation.
pavements. The current study concerns two types of composites:
mono-fibre composites and multimodal composites which contain 3.2. Mixtures composition and casting of the WFRC
different types and lengths of fibres.
Concrete mixtures were prepared into a 0.06 m3 capacity mixer pan. For all
mixtures with and without fibres, a water–cement ratio (w/c) of 0.52 and the
amount of superplasticizer were kept constant. Table 2 gives the details of the mix-
2. Research significance ture proportions for a cubic meter of concrete. Even the w/c was kept constant for
all concretes, the granular skeleton; content of water and cement were adjusted to
Nowadays, sustainable development is considered as the key- achieve a flow time value between 10 and 15 s in the LCL apparatus [18] as recom-
mended by some authors [19,20]. Based on Johnston and Skarendahl [21] conclu-
note of the 21st century. Industrial activities generate a huge
sions which stipulate that the slump test is a poor indicator of the workability of
amount of different types of wastes that are recycled or stored in steel fibrous concrete placed by vibration, the so-called ‘‘LCL-apparatus” was used
disposal landfill sites which could have a serious impact on the to examine the workability of the WFRC.
environment. Due to the increase of demand for construction pro- The procedure for mixing the WFRCs involved the following steps:
jects which obviously increases the amount of raw material used, First, the coarse and fine aggregates were placed in the mixer and dry-mixed for
1 min at a fixed speed. Cement was added then to the mixture and the materials
the incorporation of sub-products in concrete industry has become were dry-mixed for another 1 min. The fibres were then spread into the mixture
a common practice in the last decades. Several types of wastes with the specified content and the materials were mixed again for further 1 min. Fi-
could be recovered and re-used in cementitious material as fibre nally, the required amount of superplasticizer was poured into the total amount of
reinforcement. Polypropylene and metallic waste fibres were water outside the mixer, and the solution was added gradually and mixed for a per-
iod of 3 min.
incorporated in normal concrete and their effect on the properties
Compressive strength specimens of 100  100  100 mm were cast using cubic
of concrete was examined to evaluate whether it could efficiently steel moulds. Concrete was placed in the moulds in three layers and consolidated as
be used as fibre reinforcement of cementitious material. The pres- specified by BS 1881-108:1983 [22]. For flexural testing, concrete prisms of
ent investigation clearly showed that waste fibres reinforcement 100  100  300 mm dimensions were also cast using steel moulds. For each
3198 M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205

Table 1
Fibres characteristics.

Shape Fibre type Geometry Proportion (%) Cross section Length (mm)
Straight 2
Metallic Filament 3.7 Rectangular 30–60
Flat 23
Metallic Curved 35 Circular 30–60
Sinusoidally 25
Metallic Crimping complex shape 11.3 Circular 30–60
Polypropylene Flat 100 Rectangular 30, 50 and 60

Table 2
Mixture proportions of the WFRC.

Mixture code Fibre content (%) Fibre length (mm) Cement (kg/m3) Water (kg/m3) Sand (kg/m3) Gravel (kg/m3)
OPC 0 0 363 189 730 995
WMF6/1.0 1.0 60 370 192 900 827
WMF6/1.25 1.25 60 408 212 935 792
WMF6/1.5 1.5 60 415 216 998 729
WMF3/2.0 2.0 30 390 203 980 747
WMF3/2.5 2.5 30 425 221 1064 663
WMF3/3.0 3.0 30 435 226 1078 649
SF 1.5/3.0 3.0 15 435 226 1078 649
WPF6/0.5 0.5 60 415 216 992 680
WPF6/0.75 0.75 60 425 221 1013 714
WPF6/1.0 1.0 60 435 226 1047 735
WPF5/0.5 0.5 50 408 212 973 677
WPF5/0.75 0.75 50 420 219 1002 726
WPF5/1.0 1.0 50 440 229 1050 754
WPF3/0.5 0.5 30 405 210 960 694
WPF3/0.75 0.75 30 410 213 986 741
WPF3/1.0 1.0 30 440 229 1034 768
MF6/1 + MF3/2 3.0 60 + 30 425 221 1005 723
MF6/0.75 + PF5/0.75 1.5 60 + 50 450 234 1073 654
PF6/0.4 + PF5/0.6 + PF3/0.4 1.4 60 + 50 + 30 450 234 1110 618

mixture type, prism and cube concrete specimens were prepared from the same the mid-point deflection of the specimen. Stress and strain corresponding to the
batch. Immediately after casting, all specimens were covered with plastic sheet limit of proportionality (LOP) and failure (MOR) were calculated according to ASTM
and kept in their moulds during the first 24 h in a chamber at 20 ± 2 °C. Demolded C1018 Standard test.
specimens were continuously stored in a water tank saturated with lime at a con- The toughness indices of the specimen were obtained based on the area under
stant temperature of 20 ± 2 °C and a 100% of relative humidity until the age of the load–deflection curve. From the resulting load versus deflection graphs, I5, I10
testing. and I20 toughness indices were calculated according to ASTM 1018-97. Cube sam-
The FRC mixtures were designed with the following codes: WMFX/Y or WPFX/Y. ples with side lengths of 100 mm were cast for monitoring compressive strength
The first three letters (WMF or WPF) represent the concrete mixture with the type and density in accordance with BS 1881-116: 1983 [24] at 28 days. The cubes were
of fibres used waste metallic (WMF) or waste polypropylene (WPF) fibres followed loaded in uniaxial compression using standard procedures for cube testing in a
by a number (X): 6, 5, 3 or 1.5 which represents the length of fibres in cm; and the 1500 kN universal testing machine. The load was applied with a constant rate of
number Y represents the dosage of fibres incorporated in percent. loading of 0.4 MPa/s during the entire test period until failure.
From each mixture, three cube and prism samples were tested at 28 days. A to-
tal of, three series of the WFRCs were prepared. The first series (denoted as WMF)
consisted of six concrete mixtures reinforced with waste metallic fibres. Three
4. Results and discussion
WMFRC series with volume fractions of 1%, 1.25%, and 1.5% and a constant fibre
length of 60 mm and three other WMFRC series with 30 mm length with volume 4.1. Fresh mixture
fractions of 2%, 2.5%, and 3% were tested. A comparative mixture including standard
steel industrial fibres with 15 mm as fibre length and volume fraction of 3% was
The incorporation of waste fibres into cement matrix might be
made for the purpose of comparison with the mixtures reinforced with the WMF.
This mix was designed as SF1.5/3. The second series (denoted as WPF) consisted problematic, especially with high fibre volume fraction having
of concrete reinforced with waste polypropylene fibres. Nine mixtures were used irregular and complex shapes such as the WMF used in the present
with three different fibres lengths: 30, 50, and 60 mm. For each fibre length, three study. The fibre length, shape, content and aspect ratio play an
volume fractions were used: 0.50%, 0.75%, and 1%. The third series was multimodal important role in controlling workability [6] and mechanical per-
composites which included three mixtures: one mix with short and long WMF
(WMF6/1 + WMF3/2), the other one was a hybrid polypropylene–metallic fibre con-
formance of FRC. Mixtures containing the WMF have shown some
crete consisted of (WMF6/0.75 + WPF5/0.75), and the last multimodal composite difficulties during the mixing and consolidation process. In fact,
consisted of a mix of short, medium and long WPF (WPF6/0.6 + WPF5/ these types of fibre are characterized by different and randomly
0.6 + WPF3/0.5). In addition, a control concrete mixture without fibres was used shapes such as: straight, curved, wiredraw, corrugated, crimped
as a reference concrete.
and sometimes complex shape as can be seen in Table 1. In addi-
tion, it has been observed that when the fibres are longer than
3.3. Testing methods
30 mm, it becomes difficult to obtain a workable WFRC, to consol-
A total of 63 prismatic beams were prepared for flexural testing under third- idate it and consequently, to produce a good fibres dispersion
point loading in accordance with ASTM C1018 Standard test [23]. The prismatic within the cement matrix. However, adding the WPF did not signif-
beams with and without fibres reinforcement were subjected to a symmetrical cen- icantly deteriorate the workability and were the easiest to consol-
ter-point top loading system to measure strains until failure. A digital closed-loop
hydraulic universal testing machine (MTS) was used for the flexural tests. The load
idate compared to the mixtures reinforced with the WMF. In fact,
point as well as mid-point deflections was measured. Strains at the center of the this tendency to easily produce a workable WFRC with the WPF
specimen were monitored using an extensometer (strains gauges) in contact with may be due to two main factors related to the polypropylene fibres
M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205 3199

characteristics: flexibility and a flat shape. Indeed, the flat shape is It should also be noted that the volume of voids created by the
considered as advantageous for rheological properties of FRC addition of fibre is strongly linked to their characteristics (shape,
rather than mechanical properties. length, and dosage added). The higher the amount of fibres and
In fact, the composition of FRC matrices is very different from their length, the higher the porosity induced and therefore, the
that of non-fibrous concrete. The addition of fibres to the cement lower the compressive strength of concrete will be. Moreover, it
matrix disturbs the granular skeleton and needs a re-optimization has also been observed that the shape of fibres significantly affect
of the composite material proportions. Since numerous studies the compactness of the cement matrix, perhaps more than the
have considered fibres as similar to coarse aggregate, the inclusion other properties of the fibres. In fact, as pointed out above, the fi-
of fibres, particularly metallic fibres, leads to an increase of coarse bres used in this study were wasted fibres having different shapes,
aggregate fraction in spite of the fine aggregate fraction which especially non-straight fibres. Such a kind of shape considerably af-
could result in a high porosity in the cement matrix. Therefore, fects the compactness of the matrix and thus, the compressive
re-optimization of the granular skeleton composition is imperative strength development of the WFRCs. Additionally, the reduction
to obtain an adequate workability and compactness of the FRC. The of the compressive strength observed in the WFRCs might also
Rossi proposal recommended that in order to optimize the density be attributed to the increase of the fine aggregate content and
of the granular skeleton, the addition of fibres must be accompa- the decrease of the coarse aggregate content (increase of s/g) as re-
nied by an increase in the cement and fine aggregate content [19]. ported by Harrouche [27]. Furthermore, the unit weight results
presented in Table 4 could also explain the relatively higher com-
4.2. Hardened concrete pressive strength of the WMFRCs compared to the WPFRCs.

4.2.1. Compressive strength 4.2.2. Flexural strength

The results of the compressive and flexural strengths are re- The mean values of both flexural and compressive strengths are
ported in Table 3. Due to the low specific gravity of the WPF and summarized in Table 3. The results indicate that the addition of the
the high pore volume induced by the addition of this type of fibre; WMF to concrete has no a significant effect on the flexural strength
all the WPFRCs develop a lower compressive strength with respect of the WFRCs. On the other hand, even the incorporation of short
to the reference concrete, particularly when a high volume of fibres WPF (30 mm) has slightly decreased the flexural strength, the
is added. However, composites reinforced with the WMF have addition of long fibres 60 and 50 mm have shown in general, no
shown two different behaviors. The addition of short fibres a significant effect on the flexural strength of the composites. How-
(<30 mm) to concrete has exhibited a slight decrease in the com- ever, the use of the hybrid reinforcement system (short and long
pressive strength (maximum 3 MPa) while the addition of long fi- fibres as well as (WMF + WPF)) known as multimodal composites,
bres (60 mm) did not affect the compressive strength of the has led to quite a significant enhancement of the flexural strength.
WFRCs. These results are in accordance with previous results The highest value of the flexural strength was obtained with the
[19] which confirm that metallic fibres added to concrete have concrete reinforced with the short and long WPF. In fact, the flex-
no a significant effect on the compressive strength of FRCs. The ural strength reduction of the WFRC could be attributed to the in-
reduction in the compressive strength values of the WFRCs com- crease of porosity induced by the addition of fibres as discussed
pared to that of the control mixture is, in part, due to the decrease above. The high porosity and a weak interface-zone formed be-
of the coarse aggregate content. In fact, several researchers [25,26] tween the cement paste and the WF reinforcement which affects
have reported that coarse aggregate play an important role in com- the adhesion properties may be the main cause of the poor devel-
pressive strength development. In addition, the incorporation of fi- opment of the flexural strength of composites. On the other hand,
bres into the cement matrix leads to an increase of porosity of the the improvement of the flexural strength of the multimodal com-
WFRCs compared to the reference concrete. Consequently, the posites is due to the fact that fibres control cracks which could in-
strength values of composites decrease with the increase of the crease the ultimate load for the beam specimen failure. On the
pore volume induced. basis of these results, to improve both the flexural strength and

Table 3
Mechanical properties, toughness indices and residual strength of composites.

Mixture code Compressive strength (MPa) Flexural strength (MPa) Toughness indices Residual strength factors
I5 I10 I20 R5,10 R10,20
OPC 30 8.1 – – – – –
WMF6/1.0 31 6.7 4.28 6.78 9.05 50.00 22.70
WMF6/1.25 29.5 7.7 4.32 6.53 8.80 44.20 22.70
WMF6/1.5 30 6.4 3.94 6.64 10.23 54.00 35.90
WMF3/2.0 29 6.7 2.93 3.63 – 14.00 –
WMF3/2.5 27 6.5 3.88 5.65 7.02 35.40 13.70
WMF3/3.0 24.5 6.9 5.08 9.64 14.85 91.20 52.10
SF3/3.0 30.5 7.9 4.45 8.88 14.46 88.60 55.83
WPF6/0.5 29 8.1 4.39 6.70 9.24 46.20 25.40
WPF6/0.75 25.6 7.8 4.41 5.02 11.55 12.20 65.30
WPF6/1.0 21.5 8.1 4.54 7.31 18.31 55.40 110.00
WPF5/0.5 29.5 6.5 4.44 7.22 11.84 55.60 46.20
WPF5/0.75 26 8.1 4.29 8.29 13.94 80.00 56.60
WPF5/1.0 25 8.8 4.87 11.01 25.78 122.80 147.70
WPF3/0.5 23.5 4.5 3.67 5.65 9.40 39.60 37.50
WPF3/0.75 21 6.0 6.46 9.77 21.22 66.20 114.50
WPF3/1.0 20 6.4 5.00 8.73 22.02 74.60 132.90
MF6/1 + MF3/2 29.2 10.8 4.70 7.76 10.32 61.20 25.60
MF6/0.75 + PF5/0.75 24 9.5 4.73 8.92 16.12 83.80 72.00
PF6/0.4 + PF5/0.6 + PF3/0.4 18 12.9 4.96 9.91 18.66 99.00 87.50
3200 M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205

Table 4
Unit weight and the number of fibres counted in different cross sections.

Mixture code Unit weight (kg/m3) Fibre number

Failure surface Surface cut
OPC 2387 0 0 0 0
WMF6/1.0 2441 8 21 13 24
WMF6/1.25 2437 13 32 17 32
WMF6/1.5 2395 9 28 11 36
WMF3/2.0 2445 25 61 25 68
WMF3/2.5 2442 26 62 25 67
WMF3/3.0 2437 32 56 37 63
SF 1.5/3.0 2460 15 75 21 64
WPF6/0.5 2364 12 56 14 48
WPF6/0.75 2318 8 66 11 71
WPF6/1.0 2291 6 78 10 90
WPF5/0.5 2355 9 49 7 42
WPF5/0.75 2304 8 71 10 77
WPF5/1.0 2298 10 99 7 92
WPF3/0.5 2367 7 54 6 52
WPF3/0.75 2316 5 86 8 80
WPF3/1.0 2296 13 94 11 102
MF6/1 + MF3/2 2453 24 61 26 60
MF6/0.75 + PF5/0.75 2328 11 74 15 86
PF6/0.4 + PF5/0.6 + PF3/0.4 2307 13 107 15 120
NP: number of fibres oriented perpendicular to tensile force direction.
NT: number of fibres oriented in the same direction to tensile force direction.

the ductility of concrete material reinforced with waste fibres, it is orientation into the cement matrix which was greatly disturbed
more appropriate to use multimodal composite reinforcement with a non-straight WMF used in this study. Results regarding
with short and long fibres rather than using a mono-fibre system. the orientation of fibres within the cement matrix (Table 4) con-
firm that a high proportion of the WMF was oriented perpendicular
4.2.3. Effect of fibre volume and length on flexural strength and post- to the direction of tensile stress. Basically, these fibres have no a
peak behaviour significant effect on the load-carrying capacity improvement. It is
For each composite tested under flexural force, the mean values believed that the WMF are predominated perpendicular to the
of load–deflection curves of three specimens are illustrated in tension stress is a shortcoming of the fibre itself and due to their
Figs. 1–6. As mentioned in the previous section and except the tortuous shape and not a general tendency of industrial metallic
multimodal composites, even the addition of both the WMF and fibres. Indeed, the presence of the WMF did not result in either
the WPF has resulted in a slight decrease or an insignificant effect in a strength enhancement, even a slight decrease was observed,
on the flexural strength of composites, the post-peak behaviour but toughness and ductility were improved. In fact, toughness
has revealed an important improvement compared to the refer- improvement was not as pronounced as that obtained with the
ence mixture. The results have shown that the inclusion of more composites reinforced with the WPF. These improvements are also
than 1% volume fraction of the WMF can enhance the ductility of seen to be proportional to the fibre volume fraction and character-
the composite; however, this improvement is always lower than istics. Increasing the volume of fibres has led to an increase of
that exhibited by the composite reinforced with the WPF having toughness. Moreover, from the experimental point of view, it
the same length (Figs. 1 and 4). This might be due to the fibres seems very difficult to incorporate more than 1% of the WPF with

12 Lf = 5 cm WPF PP5/1
12 Lf = 6 cm PP6/1 WPF Load
PP6/0.75 300 mm 10 PP5/0.5
Applied load (kN)

Applied load (kN)

6 6

4 4

2 2

0 0
0 2 4 6 8 0 2 4 6 8
Mid-span deflection (mm) Mid-span deflection (mm)

Fig. 1. Effect of the fibre volume fraction on the load–deflection curves of Fig. 2. Effect of the fibre volume fraction on the load–deflection curves of
composites reinforced with 60 mm WP mono-fibres. composites reinforced with 50 mm WP mono-fibres.
M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205 3201

8 Lf = 3 cm WPF PP3/1 Multimodal composites

PP3/0.75 MMF
7 14
PP3/0.5 MMP

6 12 MPP
Applied load (kN)

Applied load (kN)

5 10 MPP=PF6/0.4+PF5/0.6+PF3/0.4

4 8

4 MMP =MF6/0.75+PF5/0.75
1 MMF=MF6/1+MF3/2
0 0 5 10 15 20
0 2 4 6 8 Mid-span deflection (mm)
Mid-span deflection (mm) Fig. 6. Load–deflection curves of multimodal composites reinforced with the hybrid
fibres (WM and WP) at various dosages.
Fig. 3. Effect of the fibre volume fraction on the load–deflection curves of
composites reinforced with 30 mm WP mono-fibres.

as the optimum dosage of the WPF having (50 mm) length which
10 MF6/1.5 guarantees an appropriate fresh properties and mechanical perfor-
mance. It is interesting to note that the composites reinforced with
MF6/1.25 3% of the WMF have shown a similar behaviour to that exhibited
8 MF6/1 by the industrial standard steel fibres incorporated at the same
dosage even these SF have half the length of the WMF as shown
Applied load (kN)

in Fig. 5. This may indicate that the WMF could provide a good
6 improvement of the post-peak behaviour but still inferior to that
may obtained using the industrial regular steel fibres.
4.2.4. Post-cracking behaviour of composites
Generally, the pre-peak behaviour (until the first-peak) is prac-
2 tically unaffected by the addition of fibres to cement matrix. At this
stage, the deformation regime is dominated by the matrix proper-
ties and short or low volumes of fibres are not very effective to
0 counteract crack initiation. It is well known that fibres in cementi-
0 500 1000 1500 2000 tious material act on two scales [10]: (i) that of the material, which
Mid-span deflection (µm) acts before crack localization, by ‘‘knitting together” the microcr-
aks, especially short fibres, and (ii) that of the structures, which
Fig. 4. Effect of the fibre volume fraction on the load–deflection curves of concern the period after crack localization, by taking out forces
composites reinforced with 60 mm WM mono-fibres. across the macrocraks, especially long fibres. At this stage, the ob-
served behaviour is similar to that of a conventional reinforced
concrete: an increase of the ductility of the composite.
10 WMF MF3/3 The observed increase of the WFRC ductility is more significant
MF3/2.5 in case of the WPF compared to that when using the WMF reflects
8 MF3/2
the fact that, the investigated WMFRCs are not much more ductile
than the normal concrete. In fact, as stated above, the main reason
Applied load (kN)

SF1.5/3 for such results is strongly related to the characteristics of the used
WMF. A concise statistical examination on a sample of these metal-
lic fibres showed that, these fibres contain more than 50% of fibres
4 with curve or undulation shape, even complex and tortuous shape
was observed (Table 1). In addition, a non negligible portion of alu-
2 minium or iron fibres was found. This may explain the quite poor
performance observed for the composites containing the WMF. It is
generally recognized that in composite reinforced with standard
SF, the fracture appear in cement matrix with pull-out of fibres.
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000
However, for all composites reinforced with the WMF investigated
Mid-span deflection (µm) herein, the failure of these composites was occurred by fracture of
both matrix and the metallic fibres. This might indicate the poor
Fig. 5. Comparison of the load–deflection curves of composites reinforced with
30 mm of the WMF added at various dosages and composite reinforced with
mechanical properties (tensile strength and modulus of elasticity)
standard steel fibres. of these WMF used. Moreover, the inconsistent surface and the
presence of some undesirable and foreign elements on the surface
respect to the rheological properties of the WFRCs. Therefore, for of the WMF would affect the bonding properties between the
the WPF used in this study, it seems that 0.75% can be considered cement matrix and fibres reinforcement. To obtain a proper
3202 M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205

performance, an appropriate selection of such type of waste fibres load. The same observations were reported by some authors
is required which could lead to a better mechanical behaviour of [30,31]. Quite similarly, the WMF3/3 mixture has also shown
composites. somewhat a long plateau after the first peak. In fact, the first peak
In fact, the behaviour of the WFRCs specimens under flexural is followed by a relatively long plateau which indicates a constant
loading can be classified into four types as could be seen in deflection under the same loading, and then a drop in load takes
Figs. 1–6. Type I behaviour is nearly similar to that of the control place. Such an improvement of the post-cracking behaviour ob-
concrete with a very small and short post-peak deflection. This tained with this hybrid reinforcement system is strongly related
behaviour was observed in the WMFRCs with a low fibre volume to the benefits derived from each of the individual fibre and the
fraction. As mentioned previously, such behaviour is mainly synergistic response of the mix of short and long fibres.
attributed to both, the poor characteristics of fibres and the low As a result, the optimization of the mechanical and rheological
volume of fibre added. Type II behaviour is exhibited by the properties can be achieved by combining different, nature, types,
WMFRCs with a high fibre volume fraction, where the first peak volumes, and sizes of fibres, such as in the case of PF and MF. It
is followed by a drop in load and then a short plateau or hardening is expected that the main target of using a hybrid fibre system is
with a second peak. Increasing the volume of the WMF has lead to to control cracks at different size levels, in different zones of the
an improvement of the post-peak behaviour of the composites. concrete sample, at different curing ages, and at different loading
Type III behaviour was showed by the WPFRCs, where the first stages [32]. Bentur and Mindess [33] have reported two main
peak is also followed by a drop in load and then a long plateau attractive advantages of hybrid fibre systems: (i) in such a system
or stiffness with a second peak could be observed. This type of reinforced with two types of fibres, the stronger and stiffer fibres
behaviour confirms as stated above, the important contribution (MF) improve the first-crack stress and ultimate strength. The flex-
of the WPF to significantly improve the post-peak behaviour of ible and ductile fibres (PF) improve the toughness and strain capac-
cement matrix. Type IV behaviour could be considered as a speci- ity in the post-cracking zone, and (ii) in hybrid reinforcement
ficity of the multimodal composites containing a mix of short and system, where two types of fibres exists, the smaller ones bridges
long WPF as well as the WMF with high fibre volume fraction micro-cracks in which growth can be controlled. This can lead to a
where the post-peak load-carrying capacity and the toughness higher tensile strength. The larger fibres can arrest the macro-
improvement are more pronounced compared to that of the cracks propagation and may considerably improve the toughness
composites reinforced with the mono-fibre system. This behaviour of FRC.
may be explained by the effect of both, the high volume of fibres
added as well as the hybrid fibres reinforcement system incorpo- 4.2.6. Toughness based on the load–deflection response of the WFRCs
rated. It is well established that long fibre can control the opening One of the most important properties of FRC is its ability to
of macrocracks while the short one may control the microcracking transfer stresses across a cracked section which is mostly charac-
process. terized by a toughness concept. Toughness of FRC materials can
be considered as their energy absorption capacity during deforma-
4.2.5. Multimodal composites and mono-fibre system tion which is estimated using the area under the load–displace-
A hybrid composite or multimodal composite is defined as two or ment curve obtained experimentally [6,7,21]. In general,
more different types of fibres combined to produce a composite that toughness measurement is performed on un-notched beams in
derives benefits from each of the individual fibres and exhibits a flexure using three or four-point loading setup. Moreover, the
synergistic response [2,28,29]. In order to evaluate the benefits toughness indices represent the numbers obtained by dividing
obtained when using a mix of different fibre types and lengths, the area up to a specified deflection by the area up to first-crack.
three-point flexural test was performed on both single waste fibre- ASTM C1018 defines I5 as the area under the load–deflection curve
reinforced concrete (WFRC) and hybrid waste fibres reinforcement. up to a deflection of three times the first-crack deflection divided
It is clear from both the flexural strength results and the load– by the area up to first-crack, I10 as the area up to a deflection of
deflection curves that in terms of flexural strength level and dissi- 5.5 times the first-crack deflection divided by the area up to
pated energy (up to the peak load and during the entire event), the first-crack, and I20 as the value obtained by dividing the area up
composite made with the hybrid fibre system performs much bet- to a deflection of 10.5 times the first-crack deflection by the area
ter than the composite made with the mono-fibre system. This up to first-crack. The I5, I10, and I20 were calculated using the
conclusion is in accordance with that reported in previous re- appropriate equations derived from the Fig. 7 according to ASTM
searches [2,28,29]. It confirms that in terms of flexural strength 1018-97. It is important to note that the peak deflection (first peak)
and the post-cracking behaviour, the mixture containing two fibre is used as the reference value for toughness indices instead of the
lengths and/or types is more efficient than a mixture containing first-crack deflection according to the proposal of Khaloo [5].
only one type of fibre and/or length. From the results obtained, it can be seen that the toughness
It should be noted that a positive influence of the hybrid fibres indices for the WPFRCs are relatively higher than those of the
system is observed with the most effective reinforced concrete WMFRCs. The indices calculated for the mixtures reinforced with
mixture such as (WPF6/0.4 + WPF5/0.6 + WPF3/0.4) which exhibits the WPF are more sensitive to the fibre content and length than
the highest peak load and has shown the more efficient load-carry- those calculated for mixtures reinforced with the WMF. Although
ing capacity compared to the two other hybrid mixtures (WMF6/ multimodal composites have shown a better load-carrying capac-
0.75 + WPF5/0.75) and (WMF6/1 + WMF3/2). In fact, the use of the ity than the composites reinforced with only one type of fibres,
metallic hybrid fibres system has led to the lowest load-carrying its toughness indices were in some cases lower than those of the
capacity compared to the two hybrids WPF reinforcement system. composite reinforced with the mono-fibres. Overall, the WPFRCs
However, its post-peak behaviour is still more efficient than that of have reached a higher toughness indices compared to the WMFRC
the composites reinforced with the metallic mono-fibre system. mixtures. Indeed, the composites reinforced with 50 and 30 mm of
Although the behaviour of the WM hybrid fibre has shown to be the WPF have displayed the highest toughness indices compared to
more efficient than the mono-fibre system, still its behaviour is af- the mixtures reinforced with 60 mm of the WPF. The I5 index cal-
fected by the relatively poor mechanical performance of this type culated for small deflection alone does not perfectly identify differ-
of fibre as point out above. One important aspect that was ob- ences in post-peak performance related to the fibre type, length
served in the pre-peak curve given in Fig. 6 of the (WPF6/ and amount. The determination of I10 and I20 is critical to distin-
0.4 + WPF5/0.6 + WPF3/0.4) mixture is the indefinite first-crack guish the main differences in the post-cracking performance which
M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205 3203

Load First
crack A+ B
Typical WFRC post - I5 =
cracking behaviour A
I5 A+ B+C
I 10 =
A+ B+C + D
I 20 =
I20 A

δ 3δ 5..5 δ 10..5 δ


Fig. 7. Flexural toughness indices, ASTM C1018.

is mainly attributed to the fibre characteristics rather than the ce- transfer forces across a macro-crack is not the total number which
ment matrix. This statement has also been approved by Johnston is counted in the failure section; only the fibres oriented in the
and Skarendahl [21]. same direction as the tensile force or those oriented with small an-
gle can efficiency transfer forces across a macro-crack. Generally, it
4.2.7. Residual strength factors of the WFRCs has been observed that half of the total number of the WMF
Residual strength factors represent the average strength over a counted in the cracked section was oriented perpendicular to the
specific deflection interval and it is expressed as a percentage of tensile force direction. However, for the composite reinforced with
the first-crack load or stress [21]. These factors were calculated the WPF approximately 10–20% of the total fibres counted were
as specified by ASTM C1018 Standard test method [23]. oriented perpendicular to tensile force direction. This may explain
Since the concretes reinforced with the WMF did not show a the best performance on the post-peak stage obtained with the
proper post-peak behaviour, the R10,20 is in general lower than WPF compared to that observed with the WMF. Results reported
the R5,10 indicating a drop in the residual strength with increasing by Dupont and Vandewalle [34] have shown that a high degree
deflection. The increase of fibre content did not significantly im- of proportionality may exist between the toughness of fibre-rein-
prove the residual strength of the WMFRC. However, composites forced concrete and the number of effective fibres that are counted
reinforced with the WPF have shown a higher residual strength in a cracked section. In fact, the higher the number counted in the
compared to that reinforced with the WMF. The R5,10 and R10,20 failure section, the higher the toughness of composite will be. In-
of these composites increase proportionally with the fibre content. deed, the failure of fibre-reinforced concrete principally occurred
The higher the volume of the WPF incorporated, the higher the in the weakest zone that is poor in fibres as shown in Fig. 8.
residual strength exhibited. In fact, the highest residual strength
was achieved by the composite reinforced with the WPF as it can 4.3.2. Porosity of the WFRCs
be seen in Table 3. Fig. 9 presents the results of the total volume of voids measured
after 28 days of curing in accordance with ASTM C642-97 standard.
4.3. Physical properties of the WFRCs This test provides the total volume of permeable pore (entrapped
air and voids induced by fibres addition). The results indicate that
4.3.1. Orientation and distribution of the waste fibres in the WFRCs the incorporation of both metallic and polypropylene waste fibres
After each flexural beam test, the two pieces of the specimen in cement matrix increases the volume of voids in the hardened
were again cut out into two other pieces in order to examine the
orientation and distribution of fibres in different zones within
the beams, especially at the failure zone and in the between the 90
two sawcut-parts. It is basically well recognized that fibres are ran-
domly dispersed into the cement matrix and the orientation of 85
both straight and non-straight fibres significantly influences the
Number of fibres counted

behaviour of the metallic fibre-reinforced concrete. 80

To establish a better understanding of the behaviour of the fi-
bres randomly distributed in cement matrices, a statistical experi-
mental analysis has been performed on the influence of the fibre
lengths, fibre shapes, and fibre volumes on the orientation of fibres
in the concrete matrix. Table 4 presents the results of a visual 65
inspection of the failed surfaces specimens and the counting of
the number of fibres and their orientation crossing different zones 60
as specified above. This could highlight the effect of different fibre
parameters on the orientation and distribution of fibres into the ce- 55 Predicted failure zone
ment matrix.
As is shown in Table 4, the number of the effective fibres that 0 50 100 150 200
crosses a cracked section increases when the fibre volume fraction
Concrete specimen length (mm)
increases. This number is more important in composites reinforced
with the WPF than in case of the composite with the WMF. In fact Fig. 8. Example of the distribution of fibres along the beam reinforced with the
as it is well establish, the number of effective fibres that are able to WMF3/3.
3204 M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205

Reference mixture


Porosity (%)












Fig. 9. Capillary porosity of the mixtures investigated.

concrete. This increase is proportional to the fibre characteristics depending on the fibre characteristics and content. As the com-
and content. Hence, whatever the fibre type, the volume of voids pressive strength results indicate, the incorporation of the WMF
increases when increasing both length and dosage of fibres. In fact, also induced a slight decrease in the flexural strength of the
adding fibres to cement matrix disturbs the granular skeleton and WFRCs. However, the WPF longer than 50 mm did not affect the
creates a voids space in the composite material. flexural strength while the use of short WPF decreases the flexural
In general, the addition of the WPF has resulted in a higher in- strength.
crease of porosity compared to the WMF. This could be attributed The addition of the WMF to the cement matrix has not signifi-
to the high surface area of PF (low density) compared to that of MF. cantly improved the post-cracking behaviour of the WFRC. How-
A maximum of approximately 14% of volume voids was induced by ever, the addition of the WPF has showed an important increase
the WMF3/3 and the WPF6/1. Therefore, it can be clearly observed in the ductility and post-peak behaviour of the WFRC, especially
that higher the dosage and length of fibres are, the higher the when adding long fibres. Generally, the use of a mix of short and
porosity in cement matrix composite achieved. long metallic fibres (multimodal composites) has increased the
flexural strength, toughness, and ductility of the composites com-
5. Conclusions pared to the mono-fibre reinforcement system. Furthermore, the
use of a combination of a mix of short and long WMF + WPF has
In the actual context of sustainable development, the use of by- shown to be the best way to obtain a ductile and hardening
product materials in concrete has become an attractive way to re- post-cracking behaviour of cement composites having a higher
duce the environmental impact of both the huge amount of solid flexural strength compared to the composite reinforced with a sin-
wastes produced and the over use of virgin materials as well. In gle fibre.
the present study and with respect to the above statement, the per- Toughness indices I5, I10, and I20 as well as the residual strength
tinence of the incorporation of waste fibres (metallic and poly- factors, R5,10 and R10,20 were found to be strongly linked to the fibre
meric) into cement matrix to improve the mechanical properties parameters rather than the concrete matrix strength. Therefore,
of cement-based materials has been experimentally investigated. fibre characteristics are clearly a dominant factor influencing
Since the design of FRCs is completely different from that of a toughness indices and the post-peak behaviour. The composites
normal concrete, it has been observed that the addition of waste reinforced with the WPF offer consistently the highest toughness
fibres in cement matrix needs a re-optimization of cement-based indices compared to the composites reinforced with the WMF.
composite (granular skeleton and cement paste) in order to The mechanical properties and post-cracking behaviour of FRCs
achieve the required workability and mechanical properties of are mainly governed by the fibres characteristics and their orienta-
the WFRCs. tion into the cement matrix. The visual observations of the orien-
The investigation of the compressive and flexural strengths has tation and distribution of the waste fibres in the cement matrix
revealed that the addition of WMF up to 1.5% did not affect the showed that adding the WMF has resulted in a poor distribution
compressive strength. However, adding a higher volume fraction and orientation of the fibres compared to either the WPF or the
of fibres (more than 2%) has resulted in a slight decrease of the standard industrial fibres.
compressive strength. On the contrary, the incorporation of the The use of the waste fibres, especially waste metallic fibres, has
WPF has led to a decrease of the compressive strength up to 40% certain associated problems that are yet to be observed. These
M.S. Meddah, M. Bencheikh / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 3196–3205 3205

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