Crack Control in RC Elements with Fiber Reinforcement
Fausto Minelli, Giuseppe Tiberti and Giovanni Plizzari
Appears on pages(s):
cracking, durability, Steel Fiber Reinforced Concrete, Tension Softening, Tension Stiffening, Toughness.
Durability is nowadays a key-parameter in Reinforced Concrete (RC) structures. Several codes require that structures have a defined service life during which the structural performance must satisfy minimum requirements by scheduling only ordinary maintenance.
Durability can be associated to permeability, defined as the movement of fluid through a porous medium under an applied pressure load, which is considered one of the most important property of concrete. Permeability of concrete is strictly related to the material porosity but also to cracking. The former is basically controlled by the water/cement (w/c) ratio while microcracks and cracks are related to internal and external strains or deformations experienced by the RC structures. Shrinkage, thermal gradients and any factor determining volumetric instability, as well as the loads acting on a structure, lead to both microcraking and visible cracking.
It is well known that, after cracking, tensile stresses are induced in the concrete between cracks and, hence, stiffen the response of a Reinforced Concrete (RC) member under tension; this stiffening effect is usually referred to as “tension stiffening”. After the formation of the first crack, the average stress in the concrete diminishes and, as further cracks develop, the average stress will be further reduced.
When considering Fiber Reinforced Concrete (FRC), an additional significant mechanism influences the transmission of tensile stresses across cracks, arising from the bridging effect provided by the fibers between the crack faces; this phenomenon is referred to as “tension softening”. Fibers also significantly improve bond between concrete and rebars and act to reduce crack widths.
The combination of these two mechanisms results in a different crack pattern, concerning both the crack spacing and the crack width.
The present paper describes results from a collaborative experimental program currently ongoing at the University of Brescia and at the University of Toronto, aimed at studying crack formation and development in FRC structures. A set of tensile tests (52 experiments) were carried out on tensile members by varying the concrete strength, the reinforcement ratio, the fiber volume fraction and the fiber geometry.