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Title: The Performance of Prestressed Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) Bridge Tendons after 18 Years in Service

Author(s): Alexandra Boloux, Luke Bisby, Valentin Ott, Giovanni P. Terrasi

Publication: Symposium Paper

Volume: 360


Appears on pages(s): 548-562

Keywords: CFRP, bridge tendons, tensile tests, residual tensile strength, thermal analysis, durability

DOI: 10.14359/51740648

Date: 3/1/2024

Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymers (CFRPs) are a material of choice in the aerospace and automotive industry, but despite decades of research into their application in structural engineering applications, and in particular in new-build construction of buildings and bridges, CFRP elements remain regarded as somewhat exotic in structural engineering and their widespread take-up is mostly limited to the non-prestressed strengthening of conventional structural members. The study presented in this paper assessed the performance of CFRP bridge tendons, prestressed for 18 years at 45% of their design ultimate tensile capacity in a non-conditioned outdoor environment, over water, in Lucerne, Switzerland. The performance of the tendons is considered alongside pristine samples of the same tendons never used and stored, unstressed, indoors since 1997. Thermal characterization (matrix digestion, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC)) was used to determine the fibre volume fraction and glass transition temperature, and tensile tests were performed and compared against available original baseline results from 1997. This comparisons show that the in-service tendons do not appear to have been adversely affected by 18 years service under sustained loading, and have retained the vast majority of their original, unstressed material properties. The in-service tendons only lost about 10.5% of their ultimate tensile capacity over time, while the pristine (unstressed) tendons also lost 7.9% of their capacity; this suggests that sustained loading and an external, unconditioned service environment do not significantly adversely affect the mechanical properties of the tendons after 18 years in service.