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8th International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management, 2017



U.N.D. Perera1*, J.C.P.H. Gamage 2
1Postgraduate, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
2Senior Lecturer, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
*Correspondence E-mail:, TP: +9477384 4261
Abstract: Most of the existing metallic structures around the world are in need of
strengthening/restoration due to the effect of corrosion. Use of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer
(CFRP) materials to strengthen steel members is an excellent solution. However, the contact
between CFRP and steel may lead to galvanic corrosion during the service life. In the present
study, different bonding techniques to enhance the composite performance while avoiding
contact with the substrate was investigated. Double strap joints with different bonding
techniques were prepared and tested. The results clearly indicate the dependency of bond
performance with the selected bonding technique.
Keywords: Steel; Strengthening; CFRP; Corrosion; Bond Performance

1. Introduction strength/weight ratio, weather and

Corrosion is one of the main causes of the corrosion resistance, excellent fatigue
deteriorated steel infrastructures in the performance, ease of handling etc. and
overcoming the drawbacks found in
world. The Civil Engineering field
particularly suffers due to these rusted traditional methods, make this technique
more effective. Hence, research studies on
structures which will ultimately reduce the
evaluating the effectiveness of this
operational requirements and risk the public
strengthening technique have gained more
safety. On the other hand, the resources
attention nowadays.
show that the worldwide corrosion cost is
over one Trillion and almost half of the As the weakest link of this strengthening
existing metallic structures in the world are technique is the bond between the steel
required to be restored/strengthened [01]. substrate and the CFRP material, it is
However, repairing the structural elements essential to understand the bond behaviour
could be much more cost-effective than the for the durability and the reliability of this
partial/complete restoration of the system. Even though there are many
members. Therefore, several strengthening research studies available which are focused
schemes such as attaching a steel plate, on the bond strength evaluation under
external post-tensioning and steel jacketing different environmental and/or loading
etc. [02, 03] have been introduced in order to conditions [6-12], most of them have used
increase the load-bearing capacity of those non – corroded steel plates for the testing.
structures. Due to the unfavourable This does not take into account the surface
conditions of these methods such as the characteristics of corroded steel surfaces
requirement of expensive false-work, labour which can govern the bond strength between
and difficulties in transportation and the two substrates. However, some studies
handling heavy steel plates, engineers often have focused on the bond performance of
explored for alternative methods [04, 05]. CFRP strengthened, heavily corroded steel
One such method of repairing degraded steel girders and revealed its effectiveness in
increasing the strength and stiffness while
structural elements is by bonding (CFRP)
decreasing the strain development of those
Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer material
deteriorated beams [13,14]. Elchalakanni et
which has already become a promising
al [01] performed a series of experiments to
strengthening technique for naval, aero and
determine the flexural and bearing strength
Civil Engineering concrete structures.
of CFRP strengthened Circular Hollow
Desirable physical/mechanical properties of
the CFRP material such as high
8th International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management, 2017


Sections (CHS) by taking into account length of the test specimens was determined
different levels of rust. by carrying out a series of experiments with
varying bond lengths and it was found out to
Further, exposed environmental conditions
be 115 mm. Hence, L1 and L2 were taken as
are one of the most influential factors for the
115 mm and 120 mm separately. All the
bond strength and the durability
samples were tested in tension by 1000 kN
performance. Galvanic corrosion is one such
Universal Testing Machine for the bond
destructive result caused in aggressive
strength evaluation.
environments when there is a direct contact
between the Carbon fibres and the steel plate L1 L2
in the presence of an electrolyte with a
sufficient conductivity. The literature
suggests preventing the contact in between a
CFRP/Steel joint by introducing a non –
conductive barrier [04]. Providing a GFRP Steel plate
CFRP Adhesive
(Glass Fibre Reinforced Polymer) is
recommended by many a research studies as Layer
(Side View)
it provides an additional benefit of strength 38 mm
enhancement as well [04, 13, 14].
The current research study is carried out to
determine the bond strength enhancements
of CFRP/Steel joints with a presence of an 324 mm
interfacial barrier layer in between CFRP and (Plan View)
steel by considering surface roughness of Figure 1: Schematic figure of a typical double
corroded steel plates. In this regard, a layer strap joint
of GFRP and a commercially available 2.1 Material Properties
polymer mesh had been utilized to avoid
direct contact between CFRP and steel. Six Corroded steel plates used for the double
number of bonding techniques were strap joint specimens were having a
considered for the make of double strap thickness of about 5 mm average. Araldite
joints and total of 12 steel/CFRP joints were 420 A/B was the adhesive used for the
tested in direct tension for the bond strength bonding of strengthening sheets. Mechanical
evaluation. properties of the materials used in the
investigation were tested according to the
2. Test Program relevant ASTM standards and the obtained
A total 12 number of double strap joints were results are summarized in Table 01.
prepared with 6 different bonding Table 01: Material Properties
configurations. A schematic diagram of a
double strap joint with the relevant Mechanical Elasticity Ultimate Thickness
dimensions is shown in figure 01. Naturally Property Modulus Tensile (mm)
corroded steel plates chosen for the (GPa) Strength
experiments were having slight pits and mill (MPa)
scale has rusted away. Surface roughness Steel 193 508 5
parameters of a steel plate were found to be
Adhesive 1.495 30.13 <1
as follows; 2.02 με and 10.215 με of arithmetic
mean heights of the sampling length (Ra) and CFRP 175.6 1575 0.166
the irregular surface (Sa) respectively, 7.9 με GFRP 76 2300 0.36
and 104.0 με of maximum height difference
of the profile length (Rz) and the surface (Sz)
respectively, 2.42 με and 13.6 με of root mean provided)
square heights of the profile length (Rq) and
2.2 Sample Preparation
the surface (Sq) respectively. Effective bond
8th International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management, 2017


Surface preparation of the steel plates was CFRP layer GFRP layer
achieved by grinding away the rust and
other contaminants on the steel substrate.

3 (b) GFRP only
3(a) CFRP only
(“G” type)
(“P” type)

Polymer CFRP layer

GFRP layer

3 (c) Polymer Mesh 3 (d) Single layer of

2 (a) 2 (b) only (“P”type) both GFRP & CFRP

CFRP layer GFRP layers

Polymer Mesh CFRP layer

2 (c) 2 (d)
3 (e) Single layer of 3 (f) CFRP layer
Figure 2: (a & b) corroded plate before and after both Polymer mesh sandwiched with GFRP
surface preparation (c & d) relevant SEM and CFRP (“PC” type) layers (“GCG” type)
images respectively
Figure 03 (a,b,c,d,e,f): Bonding Configurations
Figure 02 shows a prepared and a non –
24.75 kN. Both of these joints were failed due
prepared steel surface and their relative SEM
to steel/ adhesive interface debonding and
(Scanning Electron Microscopic) images.
hence the maximum capacity of the FRP
Soon after the surface preparation, a primer
sheets had not been profited. As the
layer was applied in order to protect the
corroded surface was only partially cleaned
surface before the CFRP bonding and
to remove the rust layers, remained
improve the bond strength as well as the
contaminants and the fairly smooth surface
durability. After minimum of 6 hour curing
may have been the cause for this failure
time, double strap joints were made in six
different bonding arrangements as described
in figure 03: (a) CFRP only, (b) GFRP only, The joints bonded with only a polymer mesh
(c) Polymer mesh only (d) GFRP layer (P – 01 & 02) failed at a very low load due to
embedded in between steel and CFRP (e) the ruptured polymer sheet at the location of
Polymer mesh embedded in between steel the joint. When the Polymer sheet was used
and CFRP and (f) CFRP layer sandwiched in as the interface barrier between the steel and
between GFRP layers. Wet–lay–up method the CFRP sheet (PC 01 & 02), a strength
was used for the adhesive bonding. All the increment of about 24.6% was observed over
FRP and polymer layers are saturated with the joints with only CFRP (C 01 & 02).
an adhesive layer and it is not shown in However, a mixed mode failure was
figure (3) for clarity. determined as mentioned in Table 01 which
concludes a complex nature of the failure.
3. Results and Discussion
CFRP bonded steel plates with a GFRP
Table 02 shows the summary of the results barrier interface (GC 01 & 02) gained a
obtained for the CFRP/steel joints which strength increment of about 83.2% over “C”
were tested in direct tension. The double type joints and somewhat similar percentage
strap joints made only out of a single layer of of increment was obtained for “GCG” type
CFRP (C – 01 & 02) and GFRP (G – 01 & 02) joints as well. The failure mode of the all
are showing a similar test result of about
8th International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management, 2017


Table 02: Summary of the results prediction when the number of strengthened
layers is increased.
Bonding Ultimate Average Failure Mode
Technique Load Ultimate The main objective of using a polymer mesh
(kN) in between two substrates was only to
incorporate a barrier layer to prevent the
01. C – 01 24.75 Steel/Adhesive direct contact of Carbon fibres with the steel.
interface de- Therefore, a commercially available polymer
02. C – 02 27.15 25.95 bonding and
mesh of about 1 mm thickness had been
delamination used. Yet, using GFRP layers fulfils this
03. G – 01 22.05 requirement with an additional strength gain
Steel/Adhesive to the strengthened system. Therefore, it can
23.55 interface de-
04. G – 02 25.05
be further concluded the use of GFRP is
preferred, as recommended by several
05. P – 01 5.75 research studies [04], considering the short
5.55 Fibre breakage
term bond performance results obtained
06. P – 02 5.35 from the current research.
60 C
07. GC – 43.85
Steel/Adhesive G - 01
01 50 G - 02
47.53 interface de-
08. GC – 51.20 PC - 01
bonding 40
Load (kN)

02 PC - 02
30 GC - 01
09. PC – 01 34.70 Mixed modes of
GC - 02
Steel/Adhesive GCG - 01
interface de- GCG - 02
10. PC – 02 29.95 bonding, FRP 10
interface 0
delamination 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000
32.33 between CFRP Microstrain (με)
and Polymer
mesh, Cohesive Figure 04: Strain variation of double strap joints
failure between
Strain measurements were obtained by the
steel and
Polymer mesh, strain gauges attached at the locations of 60
CFRP and mm away from the joint. Figure (04) shows
Polymer mesh the strain variations of all types of
11. GCG – 53.60 CFRP/Steel joints except for “P” type since
01 Steel/Adhesive
47.05 interface de- the obscurity occurring due to the
12. GCG – 40.50
02 bonding comparatively lower ultimate strength. An
extreme nature of ductile failure was
GC and GCG type joints were limited to observed for both “P” type specimens at the
steel/ adhesive interface debonding. No joint location. Similar strain variation pattern
delamination between intermediate FRP can be seen for both “C” type and “G” type
sheets was seen as some of the observations specimens while higher average strain
of past researchers who used more than a values were prominent for “GC” and “GCG”
single layer of FRP layers [15]. Moreover, type of joints. One of the noticeable
negligible strength enhancement of GCG observation is the increased chances of
type joints over GC type joints can be occurring a sudden brittle failure with the
attributed to the fact of increased chance of increased FRP layers which is true for all
bond failure with the increased FRP “GCG” type of joints.
thickness [16]. On the other hand, the
highest standard deviation within the similar 4. Conclusion
type of joints was seen in GCG type joints Naturally corroded steel plates were used to
deducing an uncertainty of the failure investigate the short-term bond performance
8th International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management, 2017


of CFRP strengthened double strap joints. Six Dissanayake and the staff from Structural
different bonding configurations were testing laboratory, Department of Civil
considered to prevent possible galvanic Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri
corrosion effects by providing an Lanka are also gratefully acknowledged.
intermediate barrier layer and evaluate the
bond strength enhancement.
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01. Both “G” type and “C” type joints were
Corroded Steel CHS under Combined
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Degraded Steel Beam Utilising a
enhance the joint capacity for about 25%.
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