American Society of Civil Engineers


Durability of FRP Composite Bridge Deck Materials under Freeze-Thaw and Low Temperature Conditions


by Hwai-Chung Wu, (corresponding author), (Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI 48202 E-mail: hcwu@eng.wayne.edu), Gongkang Fu, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI 48202), Ronald F. Gibson, (Prof., Dept. of Mech. Engrg., Wayne St. Univ., Detroit, MI 488202), An Yan, Ph.D., (Student, Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI 48202), Kraig Warnemuende, Ph.D., (Student, Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI 48202), and Vijay Anumandla, Ph.D., (Student, Dept. of Mech. Engrg., Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI 48202)

Journal of Bridge Engineering, Vol. 11, No. 4, July/August 2006, pp. 443-451, (doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)1084-0702(2006)11:4(443))

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, especially lightweight sandwich structures, are rapidly finding their way into civil infrastructure application. FRP composite panels are particularly attractive as bridge deck systems due to their high strength, low density, and durability, which are of importance to the bridge industry. Most of the vast amount of durability data for FRP has been generated for aerospace and automotive applications, which involve very different service conditions than civil infrastructure. For civil engineering applications, it is essential to examine the durability performance of FRP materials under weathering conditions. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a reliable framework for durability assessment of FRP decks, including laboratory testing procedure and finite-element simulation capability. Such a framework should be applicable to all types of FRP deck construction. In this paper, specimens of typical FRP bridge deck skin materials are subjected to freeze-thaw cycling between 4.4 and –17.8°C in media of dry air, distilled water, and saltwater, and constant freeze at –17.8°C . The selected deck is used as an example for demonstration purposes. In addition, selected specimens are subjected to simultaneous environmental exposure conditions and sustained loading of 25% ultimate strain. It should be emphasized that most of the environmental conditions reported in the literature produce minor deterioration of a single composite property, and the assessment of such effect on this single property becomes unreliable because of a large property variation. Therefore, in this paper we use multiple mechanical properties as performance indices for damage evaluation. Based on findings from this work, it is concluded that freeze-thaw cycling between 4.4 and –17.8°C alone and up to 1,250 h and 625 cycles caused very insignificant or no change in the flexural strength, storage modulus, and loss factor of the FRP specimens conditioned in dry air, distilled water, and saltwater. Small reductions in storage modulus (about 1% or less) were observed when specimens were prestrained and subjected to 250 freeze-thaw cycles in distilled water and saltwater. Changes in flexural strength were statistically insignificant, since they were within the data scatter.


ASCE Subject Headings:
Bridge decks
Composite structures
Durability
Environmental issues
Fiber reinforced polymer
Freeze and thaw
Sandwich structures
Temperature effects