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Title: Assessment Study of Glass Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Reinforcement Used in Two Concrete Bridges after More than 15 Years of Service

Author(s): Ali F. Al-Khafaji, John J. Myers, and Antonio Nanni

Publication: Materials Journal

Volume: 117

Issue: 5

Appears on pages(s): 209-220

Keywords: chloride content; durability; energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS); Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR); glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP); glass transition temperature (TA); pH; scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

Date: 9/1/2020

Corrosion in reinforced concrete (RC) represents a serious issue in steel-reinforced concrete structures; therefore, finding an alternative to replace steel reinforcement with a non-corrosive material is necessary. One of these alternatives is glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) that arises as not only a feasible solution but also economical. The objective of this study is to assess the durability of GFRP bars in concrete bridges exposed to a real-time weather environment. The first bridge is Southview Bridge (in Missouri) and its GFRP bars have been in service for more than 11 years; the second bridge is Sierrita de la Cruz Creek Bridge (in Texas State) and its GFRP bars have been in service for more than 15 years. To observe any possible mechanical and chemical changes in the GFRP bars and concrete, several tests were conducted on the GFRP bars and surrounding concrete of the extracted cores. Carbonation depth, pH, and chlorides content were performed on the extracted concrete cores to evaluate the GFRP-surrounding environment and see how they influenced certain behaviors of GFRP bars. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was performed to observe any microstructural degradations within the GFRP bar and on the interfacial transition zone (ITZ). Energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) was applied to check for any chemical elemental changes. In addition, glass transition temperature (TA) and fiber content tests were carried out to assess the temperature state of the resin and check any loss in fiber content of the bar after these years of service. The results showed that there were no microstructural degradations in both bridges. EDS results were positive for one of the bridges, and they were negative with signs of leaching and alkali-hydrolysis attack on the other. Fiber content results for both bridges were within the permissible limits of ACI 440 standard. Carbonation depth was found only in one of the bridges. In addition, there were no signs of chloride attack in concrete. This study adds new evidence to the validation of the long-term durability of GFRP bars as concrete reinforcement used in field applications.


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