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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development, application and early-age monitoring of fiber-reinforced ‘crack-free’ cement-based overlays Gupta, Rishi


In most industrialized countries, significant future activity in the construction sector will be related to repair and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. This will require use of durable and high performance repair materials. Among various mechanisms cited for lack of durability in repairs, early-age shrinkage cracking in overlay materials is of utmost importance. Fiber-reinforcement can be used to alleviate some of the issues related to plastic shrinkage. However, quantifying the performance of cement-based composites under restrained shrinkage conditions remains an issue. Various test techniques are available to measure free and restrained shrinkage, but do not simulate the real constraint imposed by the substrate on the overlay. In this dissertation, an innovative test method called the bonded overlay technique is described. An overlay of fiber-reinforced material to be tested is cast directly on a substrate, and the entire assembly is subjected to controlled drying. Cracking in the overlay is then monitored and characterized. During the development of this test method, instrumentation was included to enable measurement of the crack propagation rate using image analysis, evaporation rate, heat development, and strain using embedded sensors. Using the above technique, the effect of mix proportion including variables such as water-cement ratio (w/c), sand-cement ratio (s/c), and coarse aggregate content were studied. An increase in w/c from 0.35 to 0.6 significantly increased the total cracking. Addition of coarse aggregates reduced shrinkage cracking, however, for the range of s/c investigated, no definite conclusions could be drawn. Mixes with 0-20% fly ash and a 7 lit/m3 dosage of shrinkage reducing admixtures indicated no significant reduction in cracking. The influence of fiber geometry on cracking in overlays was also investigated. Fiber types included different sizes of polypropylene and cellulose fibers and one type of glass fiber (volume fraction ranging between 0-0.4%). Glass fibers at a small dosage of 0.1% were the most efficient fiber and completely eliminated cracking. Of the two field projects considered: one was a plaza deck at the UBC Aquatic Center, where cellulose fibers were used, and the second at the UBC ChemBioE building, where polypropylene fibers were used in slabs-on-grade. Both overlays were instrumented with strain sensors, data from which were monitored over the Internet. Results clearly indicated that fibers reduced the strain development in fiber-reinforced overlays when compared to un-reinforced overlays. An energy-based fracture model was proposed to predict maximum crack widths and in a second study, an equation was proposed to correlate early-age shrinkage and flexural toughness of cellulose fibers. In both models, a reasonable correlation with the test data was observed. In addition, factorial design method was used and a mathematical model was proposed to correlate different variables such as w/c, s/c, and fiber dosage.

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