Concrete beam design using polyethylene fiber scores high points in structural efficiency
by Sarah D'Iorio
Published August 4, 2016
A team of students from UB’s Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering won first place in an international competition involving ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC), a class of advanced concrete materials with ultra-high compressive strength, toughness, and durability.
The objective of the International UHPC-Beam Competition is to design a structurally efficient and aesthetically pleasing beam utilizing a UHPC with no conventional steel reinforcement.
Advised by Dr. Ravi Ranade, the UB team included civil engineering graduate students Ketan Ragalwar (captain) and Hamidreza Fakhri and undergraduate students Valeria Prieto and Faris Karahasanovic. The team members competed in two phases of the competition.
Phase I of the competition consisted of a written report based on theoretical analysis and experiments done at the competing team’s university. Several national and international universities submitted the report, but only the top eight teams were selected to participate in Phase II of the competition.
UB team members traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in Phase II of the competition, which was held at the First International Interactive Symposium on Ultra-High Performance Concrete on July 18-20, 2016. In the final part of the competition, students participated in a poster presentation followed by on-site structural testing of the structural efficiency of each beam, which was evaluated using the strength/weight ratio and deflection capacity.
While all of the other teams utilized steel fibers in their mix design following a commercially available UHPC, the UB student team used a high-performance polyethylene fiber to develop their own UHPC with extreme ductility under tension. This enabled them to score high points in the structural efficiency category.
Ragalwar said that participating in this type of competition allows students to apply theoretical concepts and get a hands-on experience of design, casting and testing of structural elements, which in this case was a concrete beam.
"Attending the competition gives students an opportunity to see and understand structural concepts for other competing projects and build on a good network of engineers," he said.
In addition to UB, participants in Phase II included the University of Ottawa, Canada; Xi'an Jiaotong - Liverpool University, China; The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Iowa State University; Missouri University of Science &Technology; The University of Texas, Arlington; and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Along with UB, Iowa State University was also awarded a first place in the competition as both schools had similarly high scores.
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