ESR 1

My project, ESR1, entitled “Reliability of concrete structures reinforced with braided FRP” and hosted by University College Dublin,  is expected to assess the reliability of structures manufactured using braided Fiber Reinforced Polymer reinforcement. 
My main academic supervisor in UCD is Dr. Ciaran McNally and the industrial partner for my secondment – supervised by Mr. Greg Byrne - is Burgmann Packings Ltd.

Significant research has been conducted in recent years into the reliability of reinforced concrete structures subjected to time dependent changes in resistance and loads. The optimum development of a reinforced concrete type in which the usual internal steel rebars are replaced by FRP composite materials is consider to be an ongoing research topic worldwide, but the structural safety associated with this composite material is still not fully understood. 
The use of FRP composite materials in concrete reinforcement offers potential performance benefits related to their advanced properties, such as corrosion resistance, high tensile strength, light weight. However, FRP exhibit brittle failure without warning, a feature that fundamentally changes the approach required in assessing reliability of these structures. 
According to the literature, Fiber Reinforced Polymers consist of high tensile fibers, such as carbon, glass, basalt, embedded in polymer matrices, thermosetting or thermoplastic ones. To date most of the FRP reinforcement used in concrete has been manufactured by pultrusion. On the other hand, braided FRP is less common as it is more expensive, but it does have other advantages, most specifically related to the additional ductility associated with the material. 

Carrier radial braider & final products (Burgmann Packings Ltd.)

In this research, I am planning to work on design and manufacture of FRP rebars, using basalt fibres and a thermosetting polymer matrix - epoxy resin – manufactured by braiding technique. Flexibility of braided FRP is also an aspect that I will exploit in order to achieve a balanced condition between brittle and ductile behaviour in reinforced concrete structures. 
My project will be further supported by advanced material analysis that will use techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), in order to characterise the interactions at the concrete - rebar interface. Determination of physical & mechanical properties of BFRP rebars combined with experimental testing programs regarding the impact of deterioration mechanisms – freeze/ thaw action, sulphate attack – on the reinforced structure, are also included. 

To sum up, the main objectives of my project is to investigate the influence of FRP on structural reliability and complete an in-depth research on their strength, response & durability via laboratory testing, statistical analysis & reliability assessment of their long tern performance as reinforcement in concrete structures. 
My final goals include an optimised design of flexible FRP reinforcement along with the development of uncertainty models of loads and resistance, in order to determine how this promising material can contribute to the overall structural behaviour & provide durable infrastructure.