Structural application of fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials is one of the key factors leading to technological innovations in aviation, chemical, offshore oil and gas, rail and marine sectors. Motivated by such successes, FRP shapes and systems are increasingly used in the construction sector, such as for bridges and small residential buildings. An obstacle to a wider use of FRP materials in structural engineering is the current lack of comprehensive design rules and design standards.
While the preparation of design guidance for static actions is at an advanced stage in the USA and EU, the design against dynamic loading is underdeveloped, resulting in cautious and conservative structural design solutions. Knowledge on the dynamic properties (natural frequencies, modal damping ratios, modal masses and mode shapes of relevant vibration modes) of FRP structures and their performance under dynamic actions (such as pedestrian excitation, vehicle loading, wind and train buffeting) needs to be advanced if to achieve the full economic, architectural and engineering merits in having FRP components/structures in civil engineering works.
This project will provide a step change to design practice by developing new procedures and recommendations for design against dynamic actions. This will be achieved by: 1) Developing an instrumented bridge structure at the University of Warwick campus that will provide unique insight into both static and dynamic performance over the course of the project, and beyond; 2) Providing novel experimental data on dynamic properties and in-service vibration response of ten full-scale FRP structures; and 3) Critical evaluation of the numerical modelling and current vibration serviceability design approaches. The data collected will be delivered in a systematic form and made available, via an open-access on-line database for rapid and easy dissemination, to academic and industrial beneficiaries, as well as to agencies supporting the preparation of institutional, national and international consensus design guidance.
Outcomes from this project will provide the crucial missing information required for the reliable design of light-weight FRP structures, and pave the way towards this structural material becoming a 'material of choice' for future large-scale bridges and other dynamically loaded structures. This medium to longer-term impact is aligned with national plans for the UK having a sustainable and resilient built environment.