Experiments on a Hybrid Composite Beam for Bridge Applications

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Virginia Tech


This thesis details a study of the structural behavior of Hybrid-Composite Beams (HCB) consisting of a fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) shell with a concrete arch tied with steel prestressing strands.  The HCB offers advantages in life cycle costs through reduced transportation weight and increased corrosion resistance. By better understanding the system behavior, the proportion of load in each component can be determined, and each component can be designed for the appropriate forces. A long term outcome of this research will be a general structural analysis framework that can be used by DOTs to design HCBs as rapidly constructible bridge components. This study focuses on identifying the load paths and load sharing between the arch and FRP shell.

Testing was performed by applying point loads on simple span beams (before placing the bridge deck) and a three beam skewed composite bridge system.  Curvature from strain data is used to find internal bending forces, and the proportion of load within the arch is found. Additionally, a stress integration method is used to confirm the internal force contributions.  The tied arch carries about 80% of the total load for the non-composite case without a bridge deck.  When composite with a bridge deck, the arch has a minimal contribution to the HCB stiffness and strength as it is below the neutral axis. For this composite case the FRP shell and prestressing strands resist about 85% of the applied load while the bridge deck carries the remaining 15% to the end diaphragms and bearings.



Hybrid-Composite Beam, FRP, Force Distribution