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In Pursuit of the New: Steel the One

August 11, 2010

Researchers perform load testing on steel strengthened with FRP.

Project: FRP in Strengthening Steel Structures

School: North Carolina State University

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Director: Sami Rizkalla

When you consider the notion of using fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) for strengthening and repair of structures, those structures are usually concrete. But North Carolina State University (NCSU) Professor Sami Rizkalla wanted to look beyond that, and apply the technology to steel structures. “The majority of civil infrastructure involves steel, so it makes sense to try and use FRP to strengthen those structures,” he says.

Rizkalla first worked with a company to produce high-modulus carbon, which adds stiffness due to being twice the elastic modulus of steel. Next, studies were done to select appropriate adhesives for repair, and testing was done using a model bridge made of steel beams and composite action with concrete.

Testing ultimately led the team to design a guideline on how to strengthen steel structures with FRP. “This guideline was sent to the International Institute for FRP in Construction’s (IIFC) technical committee on FRP-strengthened metallic structures. They reviewed and edited it and now we are close to a final guideline,” says Rizkalla.

The school’s results have been recognized by technical journals and were awarded as one of the best published papers at a Structural Faults and Repair conference in Scotland. However, the guidelines aren’t being accepted easily because there are no codes. Rizkalla has found that reluctance to take a chance on using FRP for steel repair. He feels acceptance will come with time, and believes a lot has already been accomplished.

More stories like this, click on “University R&D” tab above.

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