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

Kansas Division Documentation Report: Testing Of Large FRP Beam

To: Division Office Engineers, FRP V-Team, MRC DBE's Author: Steven E. Toillion
Report Date: 10/23/01 Date(s) of Activity: 10/18/01
Purpose: Testing of large FRP beam.
  1. Principal Contacts / Attendees

    Kansas Structural Composites, Inc., Kansas State University (K-State), University of Kansas, Kansas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

  2. Discussion

    A large FRP beam was fabricated for the New York Department of Transportation. While the beam was being transported from Kansas to New York, a forklift damaged it. The bottom skin of the beam was pulled away from the core in about a ten-foot area. A new beam was fabricated and sent to New York for their testing. The damaged beam was taken to K-State to be tested in its damaged condition. The damaged beam was then repaired and retested. The repaired beam test is what we witnessed last Thursday.

    The beam is 1.0' wide x 32' long x 31.5" high. It was designed for HS-25 @ 4,000 #/ft. The beam is instrumented with strain gauges and acoustic emission sensors. The beam in New York failed at about 75,000 pounds. The damaged section failed at about 40,000 pounds. The failure typically occurs at the interface between the core and the top and bottom skins. During the repair a three-inch skirt was wrapped around the corners of the beam. The test first exceeded the capacity of the load cells that were being used to measure the load. Then the hydraulic cylinders reached the end of their stroke. They had to be raised up and spacers were added between the cylinders and the beam. Eventually the beam failed. The skin separated from the core ripping the skirt for about ¾ the length of the beam. The final load will have to be calculated based on the results from the strain gauges and deflections. At the end of the test it was estimated that the load was well over 100,000 pounds. About 1/10th of an inch of material was added during the repair of the skin. It is believed that wrapping a few sheets of fiberglass over the edge and creating the skirt greatly increased the capacity of the beam. The test results show the great strength of this material as well as showing that the material can be repaired without sacrificing that strength.

The picture is taken from one end of the beam. It shows the end of the beam and gives the viewer an idea of the size of the beam. The beam is one foot wide, thirty-one and a half inches tall and thirty-two feet long. Strain gauges and acoustic sensors have been attached to the beam. The wires going to these sensors are visible along the beam. The beam is tied or with nylon straps. The straps are keeping the beam from tipping over and will also help keep the beam together when it is loaded to failure This is a side view of the test beam. The load is being applied to the beam at two locations. They are the quarter points along the beam. The load frame that is used to test the beam is also visible

Updated: 08/07/2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000