Structural limits of FRP-balsa sandwich decks in bridge construction
The span limits of two glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) bridge concepts involving GFRP-balsa sandwich plates are discussed. The sandwich plates were either used directly as slab bridges or as decks of a hybrid sandwich-steel girder bridges. In the latter case, the potential of the sandwich decks to replace reinforced concrete (RC) decks was also evaluated. Taking the limits of manufacturing into account (800 mm slab thickness), maximum bridge spans of approximately 19 m can be reached with FRP-balsa sandwich slab bridges, if a carbon-FRP (CFRP) arch is integrated into the balsa core. Above this limit, hybrid sandwich-steel girder bridges can be used up to spans of 30 m. RC deck replacement requires timber and steel plate inserts into the balsa core above the steel girders. GFRP-balsa sandwich slabs or decks exhibit full composite action between lower and upper face sheets. Stress concentrations occur at the joints between balsa core and timber inserts which however can effectively be reduced by changing from butt to scarf joints. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.