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Fiber reinforced concrete

Fiber reinforced concrete

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Fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC) is concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 containing fibrous material which increases its structural integrity. It contains short discrete fiber
Fiber is a class of materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, similar to lengths of thread.They are very important in the biology of both plants and animals, for holding tissues together....

s that are uniformly distributed and randomly oriented. Fibers include steel fibers, glass fibers
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

, synthetic fiber
Synthetic fiber
Synthetic fibers are the result of extensive research by scientists to improve on naturally occurring animal and plant fibers. In general, synthetic fibers are created by forcing, usually through extrusion, fiber forming materials through holes into the air, forming a thread...

s and natural fiber
Natural fiber
Fibers or fibres are a class of hair-like materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, similar to pieces of thread. They can be spun into filaments, thread, or rope. They can be used as a component of composite materials. They can also be matted into sheets to...

s. Within these different fibers that character of fiber-reinforced concrete changes with varying concretes, fiber materials, geometries, distribution, orientation and densities.

Historical perspective

The concept of using fibers as reinforcement is not new. Fibers have been used as reinforcement since ancient times. Historically, horsehair
Horsehair is the long, coarse hair growing on the manes and tails of horses. It is used for various purposes, including upholstery, brushes, the bows of musical instruments, a hard-wearing fabric called haircloth, and for horsehair plaster, a wallcovering material formerly used in the construction...

 was used in mortar
Mortar (masonry)
Mortar is a workable paste used to bind construction blocks together and fill the gaps between them. The blocks may be stone, brick, cinder blocks, etc. Mortar becomes hard when it sets, resulting in a rigid aggregate structure. Modern mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder...

 and straw
Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal plants, after the grain and chaff have been removed. Straw makes up about half of the yield of cereal crops such as barley, oats, rice, rye and wheat. It has many uses, including fuel, livestock bedding and fodder, thatching and...

 in mud
Mud is a mixture of water and some combination of soil, silt, and clay. Ancient mud deposits harden over geological time to form sedimentary rock such as shale or mudstone . When geological deposits of mud are formed in estuaries the resultant layers are termed bay muds...

A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using various kinds of mortar. It has been regarded as one of the longest lasting and strongest building materials used throughout history.-History:...

s. In the early 1900s, asbestos
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals used commercially for their desirable physical properties. They all have in common their eponymous, asbestiform habit: long, thin fibrous crystals...

 fibers were used in concrete, and in the 1950s the concept of composite material
Composite material
Composite materials, often shortened to composites or called composition materials, are engineered or naturally occurring materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties which remain separate and distinct at the macroscopic or...

s came into being and fiber-reinforced concrete was one of the topics of interest. There was a need to find a replacement for the asbestos used in concrete and other building materials once the health risks
A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes...

 associated with the substance were discovered. By the 1960s, steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

, glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

 (GFRC), and synthetic fibers such as polypropylene
Polypropylene , also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles , stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes...

 fibers were used in concrete, and research into new fiber-reinforced concretes continues today.

Effect of fibers in concrete

Fibers are usually used in concrete to control cracking due to both plastic
Plasticity (physics)
In physics and materials science, plasticity describes the deformation of a material undergoing non-reversible changes of shape in response to applied forces. For example, a solid piece of metal being bent or pounded into a new shape displays plasticity as permanent changes occur within the...

 shrinkage and drying shrinkage. They also reduce the permeability
Permeability (fluid)
Permeability in fluid mechanics and the earth sciences is a measure of the ability of a porous material to allow fluids to pass through it.- Units :...

 of concrete and thus reduce bleeding of water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

. Some types of fibers produce greater impact, abrasion and shatter resistance in concrete. Generally fibers do not increase the flexural strength
Strength of materials
In materials science, the strength of a material is its ability to withstand an applied stress without failure. The applied stress may be tensile, compressive, or shear. Strength of materials is a subject which deals with loads, deformations and the forces acting on a material. A load applied to a...

 of concrete, and so cannot replace moment
Moment (physics)
In physics, the term moment can refer to many different concepts:*Moment of force is the tendency of a force to twist or rotate an object; see the article torque for details. This is an important, basic concept in engineering and physics. A moment is valued mathematically as the product of the...

 resisting or structural steel
Structural steel
Structural steel is steel construction material, a profile, formed with a specific shape or cross section and certain standards of chemical composition and mechanical properties...

 reinforcement. Indeed, some fibers actually reduce the strength of concrete.
The amount of fibers added to a concrete mix is expressed as a percentage of the total volume of the composite (concrete and fibers), termed volume fraction (Vf). Vf typically ranges from 0.1 to 3%. Aspect ratio (l/d) is calculated by dividing fiber length (l) by its diameter (d). Fibers with a non-circular cross section use an equivalent diameter for the calculation of aspect ratio. If the modulus of elasticity of the fiber is higher than the matrix (concrete or mortar
Mortar (masonry)
Mortar is a workable paste used to bind construction blocks together and fill the gaps between them. The blocks may be stone, brick, cinder blocks, etc. Mortar becomes hard when it sets, resulting in a rigid aggregate structure. Modern mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder...

 binder), they help to carry the load by increasing the tensile strength of the material. Increase in the aspect ratio of the fiber usually segments the flexural strength and toughness of the matrix. However, fibers which are too long tend to "ball" in the mix and create workability problems.

Some recent research indicated that using fibers in concrete has limited effect on the impact resistance of the materials[1 & 2]. This finding is very important since traditionally, people think that ductility increases when concrete is reinforced with fibers. The results also indicated out that the use of micro fibers offers better impact resistance compared with the longer fibers.

The High Speed 1 tunnel linings incorporated concrete containing 1 kg/m³ of polypropylene fibers, of diameter 18 & 32 μm, giving the benefits noted below.


Polypropylene and Nylon fibers can:
  • Improve mix cohesion, improving pumpability over long distances
  • Improve freeze-thaw resistance
  • Improve resistance to explosive spalling in case of a severe fire
  • Improve impact resistance
  • Increase resistance to plastic shrinkage during curing

Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 fibers can:
  • Improve structural strength
  • Reduce steel reinforcement requirements
  • Improve ductility
  • Reduce crack widths and control the crack widths tightly thus improve durability
  • Improve impact & abrasion resistance
  • Improve freeze-thaw resistance

Blends of both steel and polymeric fibers are often used in construction projects in order to combine the benefits of both products; structural improvements provided by steel fibers and the resistance to explosive spalling and plastic shrinkage improvements provided by polymeric fibers.

In certain specific circumstances, steel fiber can entirely replace traditional steel reinforcement bar in reinforced concrete. This is most common in industrial flooring but also in some other precasting applications. Typically, these are corroborated with laboratory testing to confirm performance requirements are met. Care should be taken to ensure that local design code requirements are also met which may impose minimum quantities of steel reinforcement within the concrete. There are increasing numbers of tunnelling projects using precast lining segments reinforced only with steel fibers.

Useful standards:
  • EN 14889-1:2006 Fibres for Concrete. Steel Fibres. Definitions, specifications & conformity
  • EN 14889-2:2006 Fibres for Concrete. Polymer Fibres. Definitions, specifications & conformity
  • EN 14845-1:2007 Test methods for fibres in concrete
  • ASTM A820-06 Standard Specification for fibres in Fibre Reinforced Concrete
  • ASTM C1018-07 Standard test methods for flexural toughness & first crack strength

Some developments in fiber-reinforced concrete

An FRC sub-category named Engineered Cementitious Composite
Engineered Cementitious Composite
Engineered Cementitious Composite , also called bendable concrete, is an easily molded mortar-based composite reinforced with specially selected short random fibers, usually polymer fibers. Unlike regular concrete, ECC has a strain capacity in the range of 3–7%, compared to 0.1 % for ordinary...

 (ECC) claims 500 times more resistance to cracking and 40 percent lighter than traditional concrete. ECC claims it can sustain strain-hardening up to several percent strain, resulting in a material ductility
In materials science, ductility is a solid material's ability to deform under tensile stress; this is often characterized by the material's ability to be stretched into a wire. Malleability, a similar property, is a material's ability to deform under compressive stress; this is often characterized...

 of at least two orders of magnitude higher when compared to normal concrete or standard fiber-reinforced concrete. ECC also claims a unique cracking behavior. When loaded to beyond the elastic range, ECC maintains crack width to below 100 µm, even when deformed to several percent tensile strains. Field results with ECC and The Michigan Department of Transportation resulted in early-age cracking .

Recent studies performed on a high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete in a bridge deck found that adding fibers provided residual strength and controlled cracking . There were fewer and narrower cracks in the FRC even though the FRC had more shrinkage than the control. Residual strength is directly proportional to the fiber content.

A new kind of natural fiber-reinforced concrete (NFRC) made of cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

 fibers processed from genetically modified slash pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 trees is giving good results. The cellulose fibers are longer and greater in diameter than other timber
Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

Some studies were performed using waste carpet fibers in concrete as an environmentally friendly use of recycled carpet waste . A carpet typically consists of two layers of backing (usually fabric from polypropylene tape yarns), joined by CaCO3 filled styrene-butadiene latex rubber (SBR), and face fibers (majority being nylon 6 and nylon 66 textured yarns). Such nylon and polypropylene fibers can be used for concrete reinforcement. Other ideas are emerging to use recycled materials as fibers .

For statistical calculations there is a new modelling in the book: B.Wietek, Stahlfaserbeton, edited by Vieweg + Teubner, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8348-0592-8.

See also

  • Reinforced concrete
    Reinforced concrete
    Reinforced concrete is concrete in which reinforcement bars , reinforcement grids, plates or fibers have been incorporated to strengthen the concrete in tension. It was invented by French gardener Joseph Monier in 1849 and patented in 1867. The term Ferro Concrete refers only to concrete that is...

  • Glass-reinforced plastic
    Glass-reinforced plastic
    Fiberglass , is a fiber reinforced polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced by fine fibers of glass. It is also known as GFK ....

  • Fiber-reinforced plastic
    Fibre-reinforced plastic
    Fibre-reinforced plastic is a composite material made of a polymer matrix reinforced with fibres. The fibres are usually fibreglass, carbon, or aramid, while the polymer is usually an epoxy, vinylester or polyester thermosetting plastic...

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