U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Bridges & Structures

FRP Library

FRP Composite Bridge Technology Presentation

HISTORY - FRP Fiber Reinforced Materials

  • Straw in Clay (Brick, Roof, Walls)
  • Glass Fibers in Concrete
  • Glass Fibers in Polymer

HISTORY - FRP Post WW-II Applications

  • Boat Hulls
  • Radomes
  • Minesweeping Vessels
  • Bath Tubs
  • Covers

HISTORY - FRP Post WW-II Applications-2

  • Pressure Vessels
  • Submarine Parts
  • Rocket Shells
  • Aircraft Components
  • Automobile Bodies & Parts

HISTORY - FRP Post WW-II Domestic Applications

  • Bath Tubs
  • Covers
  • Railings
  • Housing Components
  • Architectural Components
  • Ladders
  • Electrical Equipment

HISTORY - FRP Post WW-II Recreational Uses

  • Fishing Rods
  • Tennis Rackets
  • Ski Equipment
  • Golf Clubs
  • Recreation Boats
  • Skates

FRP Consumption (In Millions of Pounds)

Industry 1996 1997 1998
Aircraft23.723.924.2
Appliance/Bus Equip176.9186.0189.3
Construction655.1699.6735.5
Consumer194.2210.0218.6
Corrosion Resistant381.1396.0374.9
Electrical/Electronic318.8348.2348.2
Marine367.9353.0353.0
Transportation998.51095.21135.4
Other107.3110.8114.9
Total3223.53421.73494.0

FRP - Civil Structures Current Field Activities

  • Pedestrian Bridges
  • Highway Bridges
  • Seismic Retrofit Columns
  • Bridge Strengthening
  • Bridge Repairs

FRP Technology Characteristics

  • High Strength
  • High Resistance to Corrosion and Chemical
  • High Resistance to Elevated Temperature
  • High Resistance to Abrasion
  • Toughness
  • Fatigue
  • Light Weight

FRP Technology Advantages

  • Ease in Fabrication, Manufacturing, Handling, and Erection
  • Year-Round Construction
  • Short Project Time Delivery
  • High Performance
  • Durability (Jury Still Out)
  • Excellent Strength-to-Weight Ratio

FRP Technology Disadvantages -1

  • High First Cost
  • Creep and Shrinkage
  • Potential for Environmental Degradation
    (Alkalis' Attack, UV Radiation Exposure, Moisture Absorption, etc.)
  • Consistency of Material Properties

FRP Technology Disadvantages - 2

  • Global and Local Buckling
  • Aerodynamic Instability With Lightweight
  • Requires Highly Trained Specialists
  • Lack of Standards and Design Guides
  • Limited Joining and Connection Technology (Adhesive joints, fasteners)

FRP Technology Public Concerns

  • Fire/Flame Resistance
  • Smoke Toxicity
  • Fuel Spills
  • Vandalism/Theft
  • Inspectibility
  • Repairability

Manufacturing Process Common To Civil Applications

  • Pultrusion
  • Filament Winding
  • Layup

What Is FRP Composites Components?

  • Fiber Reinforcement
  • Resin Matrix
    ***(Fiber-Matrix Interphases)***
  • Fillers
  • Additives

FRP Technology Mechanical Properties

  • Fiber Types
  • Fiber Orientations
  • Fiber Architecture
  • Fiber Volume (30-70%)

FRP Technology Fiber Types

  • Glass
  • Aramid
  • Carbon (Graphite)
  • Boron
  • Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) (Available in Japan)

FRP Technology Fiber Orientation

  • 0 Degree (Parallel - Warp)
  • 90 Degrees (Transverse - Weft)
  • Between 0 and 90 Degrees (Biased)
  • (e.g. 0/45/90/-45/0)

FRP Technology Fiber Architecture

  • Braiding (2D & 3D)
  • Knitting
  • Weaving
  • Stitched
  • Chopped

FRP Technology Carbon Fiber

  • Three Polymer Precursors:
    • Polyacrylonitrile (PAN)
    • Rayon
    • Pitch
  • Anisotropic Materials
  • Linear Elastic to Failure
  • Failure by Rupture

FRP Technology Aramid Fiber

  • Aromatic Polyamides
  • Kevlar 29
  • Kevlar 49
  • Anisotropic Materials
  • Linear Elastic to Failure
  • Failure by Rapture

FRP - Typical Properties

Fiber Strength (KSI) Modulus (MSI) Strain (%)
E-Glass35062
S-Glass50063
CF-Pan60033-502
C-Pitch GP20060.3
Pitch UHM40070-1200.5
Aramid50010-202
Ceramic10010-402
Nylon500.55-50

FRP Bridge Technology Fiber Properties

graph of fiber stress vs fiber strain for carbon, aramid and E-glass


FRP Technology Resin System

  • Thermoplastics (melts when heated, solidifies when cooled, no permanent curing)
  • Thermosets (cures permanently by irreversible cross linking at elevated temp.)

FRP Technology Resin Formulations

  • Viscosity
  • Reactivity
  • Resiliency
  • High Deflection Temperature (HDT)

FRP Technology Resin Types

  • Unsaturated Polyesters
  • Epoxies
  • Vinyl Esters
  • Polyurethanes
  • Phenolics

FRP - Resin System Unsaturated Polyesters - 1

  • 75% Resins Used in USA
  • Condensation Polymerization of Dicarboxylic Acids & Dihydric Alcohols
  • Contains Maleic Anhydride or Fumaric Acid

FRP - Resin System Unsaturated Polyesters - 2

  • Dimensional Stability
  • Affordable Cost
  • Ease in Handling, Processing, & Manufacturing
  • High Corrosion Resistant & Fire Retardants
  • Best Value for Performance & Strength

FRP - Resin System Epoxies

  • Glycidyl Ethers and Amines
  • Customized Properties
  • Limited Workability
  • Sensitive to Curing Agents
  • High Performance
  • High First Cost

FRP - Resin System Vinyl Esters

  • Good Workability
  • Fast Curing
  • High Performance
  • Toughness
  • Excellent Corrosion Resistance

FRP - Resin System Polyurethanes

  • Polyisocyanate & Polyol
  • Reaction or Reinforced Injection Molding Process
  • High Performance
  • Toughness
  • Excellent Corrosion Resistance

FRP - Resin System Phenolics

  • Phenols & Formaldehyde
  • Resole - Alkaline (F/P > 1.0)
    (Cured by Heat)
  • Novolac - Acidic (F/P < 1.0)
    (Cured by Chemical Reaction)
  • Resistance to High Temperature
  • Good Thermal Stability
  • Low Smoke Generation

FRP Technology Fillers

  • Control Composites' Cost
  • Improved Mechanical Properties
  • Improved Chemical Properties
  • Reduced Creep & Shrinkage
  • Low Tensile Strength
  • Fire Retardant & Chemical Resistant

FRP Technology Filler Types

  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Kaolin
  • Alumina Trihydrate
  • Mica Feldspar
  • Wollastonite
  • Silica, Talc, Glass

FRP Technology Additives

  • Improved Material Properties
  • Aesthetics
  • Enhanced Workability
  • Improved Performance

FRP Technology Additive Types

  • Catalysts
  • Promoters
  • Inhibitors
  • Coloring Dyes
  • Releasing Agents
  • Antistatic Agents
  • Foaming Agents

FRP Technology Smart Materials

  • Innovative Design and Application
  • Customized Product for High Performance
  • Versatility
  • Complex Design Process
  • Materials, Processing, Configurations

FRP - Design Features

  • Avoid Abrupt Thickness Change
  • Take Advantage of Geometric Shapes
  • Take Advantage of Hybrid System
  • Use Bonded Assemblies & Joints
  • Provide Good Details on Connections

FRP - Design Avoid Abrupt Thickness

  • Inefficient By Thickness
  • Avoid Stress Risers
  • Consider Stress Flow
  • Consider Load Paths
  • Understand Structural Behavior

FRP - Design Features

  • Avoid Abrupt Thickness Change
  • Take Advantage of Geometric Shapes
  • Take Advantage of Hybrid System
  • Use Bonded Assemblies & Joints
  • Provide Good Details on Connections

FRP - Design Geometrical Shapes

  • Low Stresses
  • Optimize Design - Balance Criteria
    (Stress, Deflection, and Stability)
  • Use Flanges, Ribs, Stiffeners
  • Use Honeycomb or Box Cells, Tubes
  • Proportioning and Orienting Cells

FRP - Design Features

  • Avoid Abrupt Thickness Change
  • Take Advantage of Geometric Shapes
  • Take Advantage of Hybrid System
  • Use Bonded Assemblies & Joints
  • Provide Good Details on Connections

FRP - Design Hybrid Systems

  • High Strength in Composites
  • High Stiffness in Conventional Materials
  • Concrete Filled Carbon Shells
  • Reinforced Timber Beams
  • PS Tendons, Rods, Bars, Laminates
  • Account for Material Compatibility

FRP - Design Features

  • Avoid Abrupt Thickness Change
  • Take Advantage of Geometric Shapes
  • Take Advantage of Hybrid System
  • Use Bonded Assemblies & Joints
  • Provide Good Details on Connections

FRP - Design Bonded Joints

  • Epoxy Bonded Assemblies
  • Epoxy Bonded Joints
  • Bonded Shear Transfer Strips
  • Plate Bonding Technology
  • Bonded Splices
  • Durability of Joints

FRP - Design Features

  • Avoid Abrupt Thickness Change
  • Take Advantage of Geometric Shapes
  • Take Advantage of Hybrid System
  • Use Bonded Assemblies & Joints
  • Provide Good Details on Connections

FRP - Design Connection Details

  • Local Stress Flow
  • Overall Load Path
  • Weak Links
  • Manufacturing Defects
  • Fabrication Irregularities
  • Select Proper Fasteners

FRP Technology Future Developments

  • T2 from Aerospace Industry - CE transition
  • Bridge structures - Stiffness Driven
  • Customized vs. Open Market
  • Cross Cutting Team in Design-Build
  • Education and Training of SE/CEs
  • New Construction Technology
  • New Manuf./Fabric. Technology

FRP Technology Conclusion - 1

  • Continue R & D Activities
  • Training
  • Government & Private Funding
  • Building Teamwork & Partnership
  • Proprietary Products & Patents
  • Performance/Prescriptive Specs - "Birth Certificate" & Baseline Reference

FRP Technology Conclusion - 2

  • AASHTO, ASCE, ACI, PCI,
  • NSF, NIST (ATP), ISCC
  • Euro and Japanese Standards (Std.)
  • Design Std., Specs & Guidelines
  • Materials Specifications & Testing Std.
  • Manufacturing Process & Standards
  • Database Management
PowerPoint files can be viewed with the PowerPoint Viewer
Updated: 08/07/2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000