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Pergamon

Cementand ConcreteResearch, Vol. 24, No. 6, pp. 1121-1132,1994


Copyright 1994ElsevierScienceLtd
Printedin the USA. All rights reserved
0008-8846/94 $6.00+.00

0008-8846(94) 00056-5
MECHANICAL PROPERTIES OF FIBER REINFORCED
LIGHTWEIGHT CONCRETE COMPOSITES

M. Perez-Pena* and B. Mobasher **


*Senior Member of Technical Staff, USG Corporation, Libertyville, IL 60048
**Assistant Prof. of Civil Eng., Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ 85287-5306
(Refereed)
(ReceivedSeptember16. 1993;in rmal formMarch 15, 1994)

ABSTRACT

Hybrid composites with variable strength/toughness properties can be


manufactured using combinations of brittle or ductile mesh in addition to brittle
and ductile matrix reinforcements. The bending and tensile properties of thin
sheet fiber cement composites made from these mixtures were investigated.
Composites consisted of a woven mesh of either polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
coated E-glass or polypropylene (PP) fibers for the surface reinforcement. In
addition, chopped polypropylene, acrylic, nylon, and alkali-resistant (AR) glass
fibers were used for the core reinforcement.
It is shown that by controlling fiber contents, types, and combinations, design
objectives such as strength, stiffness and toughness, can be achieved. Superior
post-cracking behavior was measured for composites reinforced both with glass
mesh and PP mesh. Load carrying capacity of PP mesh composites can be
increased with the use of 1% or higher chopped PP fibers. Glass mesh
composites with short AR glass fibers as matrix reinforcement indicate an
increased matrix cracking strength and modulus of rupture. Combinations of
PP mesh/short AR glass did not show a substantial improvement in the matrix
ultimate strength. An increased nylon fiber surface area resulted in improved
post peak response.
Introduction

Thin section fiber reinforced concrete (FRC) cladding panels are widely used in
the construction industry. Compared to conventional precast concrete, the
production, transportation, and installation costs of these material are significantly
lower [1]. The first FRC composites were made by the Hatschek process [2]. In
theses composites, various fibers types are used as the filtering media in the retention
of cement particles during manufacture. The fiber length used is hence shorter than
the optimum length, resulting in brittle products.
1121

1122

M. Perez-Pena and B. Mobasher

Vol. 24, No. 6

Development of a new class of cementitious materials based on thin sheet


hybrid composites is necessary to address the needs of construction industry. Areas
of application include exterior and interior walls, roofing products, floor underlayment,
and retrofit projects. Woven meshes have been utilized in the manufacture of thin
sheet concrete products[3] [4] [5]. Placement of fiber reinforcement at the
surface of the composites results in higher matrix and composite strengths. This is
partly due to the length effect of the continuous fibers which allows for full stiffness
utilization. In comparison, large volume fractions (> 3%) of chopped fibers are
required to effectively reinforce concrete products. A woven mesh facilitates panel
production in a continuous manufacturing line. Since the primary mode of loading is
due to bending (especially during installation), the fibrous mesh provides a continuous
reinforcement in the tensile region. Use of short fibers in addition to surface
reinforcement is advantageous for both short term handling, installation, and long term
performance.
Due to panel weight considerations, lightweight concrete mixtures with densities
around 1280 Kg/m 3 (80 pcf) are desirable which result in a matrix with relatively low
bending strength. One possible way to increase ductility is to use fiber reinforcement.
The composites under study consist of woven or fibrillated mesh of both ductile and
brittle continuous fibers. Use of a low fiber volume fraction moderately increases the
first-crack strength, ultimate tensile, and flexural strengths in addition to better postpeak response. Fibers control the cracking process by preventing localization and
generate a homogeneous microcracking state to dissipate energy over the entire
volume [6].
The objective of this work was to study the interaction among combinations of
brittle and ductile mesh in conjunction with brittle and ductile matrix reinforcements.
Desired strength/toughness properties can be obtained using a variety of mesh and
matrix reinforcements. It is shown that by controlling fiber contents, types, and
combinations, design objectives such as strength, stiffness and toughness, can be
optimized. Two types of polymer coated woven E-glass, and fibrillated polypropylene
(PP) mesh were used. Chopped fibers (acrylic, A-R glass, polypropylene and nylon)
were used.
Materials and Experimental Procedures
The Composite Formulation
A lightweight-aggregate concrete matrix was used. Its major components were
a high early strength portland cement, class C fly ash and expanded clay lightweight
aggregate in a proportion of 25:19:56. Air entrainment dosage was 1.25 fl. oz. per
100 Ibs. of cementitious materials. The superplasticizer was a sodium salt of a
sulfonated naphthalene condensate at a dosage of 25 fl.oz, per 100 Ibs. of cements.
A constant water:cementitious solids ratio of 0.37 was used throughout the study.
Proprietary additives were used to accelerate strength development.
Two types of surface reinforcement were studied, an E-glass mesh with a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coating, and a polypropylene mesh. A single layer of mesh was
embedded on the surface of specimens except for the glass/pp mesh composites

Vol. 24, No. 6

FIBER COMPOSITES,MECHANICALPROPERTIES,TOUGHNESS

1123

Table 1. Summary of the combinations for the hybrid composites

Short fiber core reinforcement


no fiber

Acrylic

Nylon

AR-glass

No Mesh

PP
0.38 %
0.75 %
1.12%
1.48 %

PP Mesh

yes

Glass
Mesh

yes

PP/Glass
Mesh

yes

1.0 %,
L~ = 12.7mm

0.62 %
L~ = 12.7mm

1.7 %
D=5 or 32
deniers

1.0 %
I_f = 12.7mm

0.75 %
Lf=12.7mm

which contained a layer of each. In addition, four types of short fibers were used in
the matrix. These fibers were: acrylic, PP, AR glass, and nylon; short and continuous
fiber composites evaluated in this study are presented in Table 1.
Sheets with nominal dimensions of 83.8 cm x 30.4 cm x 1.3 cm (33 x 12 x 0.5
in.) were cast in the laboratory and subjected to 14 days of curing at 90% RH at a
temperature of 32.2 C (90"F). Dog bone specimens for the tension test were cut
using a water cooled diamond blade saw. Flexural test coupons with nominal
dimensions of 30.4 cm x 10.1 cm x 1.3 cm (12 in x 4 in x 0.5 in) were tested in four
point bending.
Mechanical Testing
Tensile experiments were conducted under a closed-loop strain controlled
condition. Test procedures for measurement of post-peak responses of FRC materials
used in this study were based on the techniques developed previously [7] [8] [9]. The
elongation of the tensile specimens were measured using the response of a clip gage
mounted across a gage length of 152.4 mm (6 in). The first crack load is measured at
the onset of the deviation of the load-deformation response from linear behavior. The
maximum load is dependant on the tensile strength of reinforcing mesh in addition to
the pullout response of the fibers. This load was used to compute the nominal tensile
strength of the composite based on the original cross sectional area.
Four point flexural tests were conducted. Deflections at the two loading points

1124

M. Percz-Pena and B. Mobasher

Vol. 24, No. 6

were averaged by means of a jig which allowed for continuous deflection monitoring
up to values as high as 24.5 mm (1 inch). This response was subsequently used as
the feedback signal in the control of the test. Toughness of the composites was
obtained by integrating the load versus deflection at loading points during the entire
loading cycle. Additionally, toughness up to the first cracking load was also measured.
Test data were collected at a frequency of 1 Hz using a 12 bit resolution data
acquisition system. Digital data analysis software were developed for graphical
analysis of the data. The values reported in Tables 2 through 5 are averages of at
least three replicate samples. Standard deviations are reported in parentheses (), and
the coefficient of variation in square brackets [ ].

B)

Figure 1. SEM micrographs of fractured lightweight concrete matrix. Bar indicates 13.5
#m in (A) and 21.0 #m in (B).

Vol. 24, No. 6

FIBER COMPOSITES,MECHANICALPROPERTIES, TOUGHNESS

1125

Results and Discussion


Microscopic Analysis
Densities of the composites ranged between 75 to 83 pcf, indicating a
significantly higher degree of porosity as compared to normal weight FRC materials. A
scanning electron microscope (JEOL 840) was used to study the fracture surface.
Figure 1 shows the photomicrographs of the lightweight core. Typical pores,
produced by air entraining admixtures were estimated to be several hundred microns
as shown in FIG.1(a). A second source of porosity was the expanded clay aggregate
as shown in FIG.I(b). The bonding mechanism of fibers to the matrix in such a
porous microstructure may be quite inferior to the conventional FRC composites,
significantly reducing the efficiency of the short fibers. Such a microstructure benefits
from the use of continuous fiber mesh as the external reinforcement.

Tensile Response of Hybrid Composites


As shown in Figure 2, the tensile stress-strain response of a composite with
glass mesh and short acrylic fibers exhibits the characteristic response of strong
continuous fibers in a weak brittle matrix. The linear portion of stress strain response,
terminates by the failure of the matrix at the Bend Over Point (BOP). After the BOP,
load is transferred to the fiber mesh and short fibers at the crack sites. As the load
increases, additional cracks form at regular spacing and reduce the stiffness. The
maximum load occurs due to the failure of glass fiber strands. The post peak
response is attributed to the pullout response of short fibers. The energy dissipated
2.0

1.5

m~
m
(D

1.0

.,~
rY]

0.5

0.0
0.000

0.005

0.010

0.015

Strain, rnrn/rnm
Figure 2.

Tensile stress strain curve of lightweight concrete thin sheets reinforced


with a PVC coated glass mesh and chopped Acrylic fibers in matrix.

1126

M. Perez-Pc'na and B. Mobasher

Vol. 24, No. 6

is due to both the mesh reinforcement which results in distributed cracking and the
pullout of short fibers. The area under the stress-strain curve was used as a measure
of ductility of the composite.
Polypropylene and Glass Mesh Surface Reinforcements
Flexural load deflection responses of glass and PP mesh composites are
shown in FIG. 3. The flexural stress, associated with the first cracking point is referred
to as the proportional elastic limit (PEL) and the elastically equivalent stress parameter
measured at the maximum load is referred to as the modulus of rupture (MOR).
Summary of the test results are provided in Table 2. The composites with glass mesh
carry loads beyond the PEL to an MOR level of 6.5 MPa, exceeding the performance
of the PP mesh composites with their MOR of 4.4 MPa. The toughness of these
composites are comparable at around 2.1 to 3.6 Nm. The crack spacing was larger
for samples with PP mesh as compared to the glass mesh. This is due to the lower
stiffness of the PP fibers, a weaker matrix/fiber mechanical bond, and a less than
optimum load transfer mechanism. The effect of the combined use of PP and glass
mesh is also shown in FIG.3. Specimens with glass/PP mesh were able to sustain
higher first crack loads as compared to samples with either glass or PP. The ultimate
strength is significantly higher than single PP mesh composites. In these composites,
after the glass fails, about half of the load carrying capacity is carried by the PP mesh.
The toughness increases to 5 Nm which is as much as twice the toughness of a single
glass mesh composite.

500|~
400~
Z

3 0 0 t~

200

Figure 3.

~
~~~~~ Glass
~ ~( ~
PP/Glass
PP

'

~~C
~O
CC~

'

Deflec[ion, mm
Flexuralload deflexion response of glass and ~ continuous mesh
composites.

Vol. 24, No. 6

FIBER COMPOSITES, MECHANICAL PROPERTIES, TOUGHNESS

Table 2.

Mesh

1127

Flexural response of continuous fiber glass, PP and combination


glass/PP mesh. (no matrix fibers)

Deflection,
mm

Young's
Modulus,
GPa

Strength,

Toughness,

MPa

Nm

at 1st
crack

at max
load

PEL

MOR

at 1st
crack

max

Glass
Mesh

0.35
(0.09)
[25]

11.4
(0.51)
[4]

8.0
(1.7)
[22]

3.4
(.45)
[25]

6.5
(.23)
[4]

0.06
(0.02)
[32]

2.14
(.16)
[7.6]

PP
Mesh

0.41
(.05)
[12]

23.3
(2.9)
[12]

9.6
(1.6)
[17]

4.0
(.31)
[8]

4.38
(.03)
[1]

0.09
(0.01)
[13]

3.65
(.51)
[13.8]

PP &
Glass
Mesh

0.33
(0.07)
[20]

8.56
(0.74)
[9]

10.6
(2.2)
[20]

5.1
(.27)
[5]

7.9
(. 16)
[2]

0.1
(0.02)
[21 ]

5.02
(.7)
[ 14]

Values for the standard deviation are shown in parentheses ( ) and for the
coefficient of variation in square brackets [ ].

Polypropylene Chopped Fiber-Reinforced Composites


Load-deflection response of composites with 0.38, 0.75, 1.12 and 1.48 Vol% of
0.5 in. long PP fibers are shown in FIG. 4. Summary of the test results are also
provided in Table 3. An increase in load carrying capacity and postcrack strength is
observed by increasing the fiber content. Volume fractions around 1% or higher are
needed for the load carrying capacity to be equal or exceed the first crack strength.
By comparing the flexural response of the mesh vs. the fibers in Figures 3 and 4, it is
observed that the load deflection curve of samples with 1.12 and 1.48 Vol% PP fibers
reached similar or even higher load levels as samples with PP mesh. The toughness
provided by the mesh however is about three times higher than the chopped fiber
composites.
Similar behavior was observed for tensile PP-FRC specimens, i.e. the load
carrying capacity increases with fiber volume fraction. At relatively low fiber content,
the stiffness drops after first matrix cracking. Increasing fiber volume fraction causes
composites to carry increasing loads after matrix cracking. Matrix cracking load is
sustained in the post cracking zone at volume fractions larger than the 1.12% level.

1128

M. Perez-Pena and B. Mobasher

Vol. 24, No. 6

3OO

200

~
4 /

/I,

0
Figure 4.

,,

*~,-'-~* 0.75~ V,

=l.12

~
DeflecLion,

v,
v,

1'0
mm

15

Flexural response chopped PP fiber composites.

Mesh/Chopped Fibers Reinforcement


Acrylic and PP Fibers

Chopped acrylic and PP fibers, 12.7 mm (0.5 in) in length were used to
reinforce the core. Flexural test results are tabulated in Table 4 and are compared
with composites with the glass mesh without fibers. The maximum feasible loading of
PP fibers that would still allow embedment of glass mesh on the composite surfaces
was 0.75% by volume. At this volume fraction level of 12.7 mm ( 0.5 in) long PP
fibers, the PEL and MOR strength of the composites are marginally affected. Similar
results are observed with 12.3 mm (0.5 in) long Acrylic fibers. When used at the
maximum practical volume fraction of 0.62% (from a mixing point of view), acrylic
fibers provided marginal strength enhancement, and increased first crack toughness,
but similar maximum toughness. The degree of variation observed in the first crack
toughness values may be partially due to the method used in determining the first
crack point [10].
A-R Glass Fibers

Results shown in Table 5 suggest that stiffness of panels with glass mesh may
benefit by addition of 1.0 vol% AR glass fibers. This is indicated by a 16% increase in
the modulus of elasticity and matrix cracking strength (PEL). Addition of AR glass
fibers did not show a definite improvement in the matrix strength for the composites
with PP mesh. However, a 13% increase in the modulus of elasticity indicated higher
stiffness for samples with the PP mesh and A-R fibers.

Vol. 24, No. 6

FIBER COMPOSITES,MECHANICALPROPERTIES,TOUGHNESS

1129

Table 3. Flexural response of PP mesh versus PP chopped fibers.


Mesh

Fibers

Deflection
mm

PP
Mesh

None

Young's
Modulus
GPa

Strength

Toughness

MPa

Nm

at 1st
crack

at max
load

PEL

MOR

1st
crack

max

No
Fibers

0.41
(.05)
[12]

23.3
(2.9)
[12]

8.6
(1.2)
[15]

4.0
(.31)
[8]

4.38
(.03)
[1]

0.09
(0.01)
[13]

3.65
(.51)
[13.8]

PP
0.38%

0.54
(.29)
[54]

1.09
(.584)
[54]

6.2
(2.3)
[37]

3.28
(.24)
[7]

3.28
(.24)
[7]

0.11
(0.01)
[66]

.62
(.156)
[37]

PP
0.75%

0.45
(.06)
[12]

0.89
(.11)
[12]

7.8
(1.8)
[24]

3.61
(.15)
[4]

3.61
(.14)
[4]

0.08
(0.12)
[15]

.568
(0.01)
[10]

PP
1.12%

0.47
(.01)
[3]

0.99
(.076)
[7]

6.0
(.46)
[7]

3.52
(.14)
[4]

3.57
(.19)
[5]

0.09
(.005)
[6]

1.09
(.013)
[21 ]

PP
1.48%

0.32
(.28)
[43]

0.64
(.28)
[43]

6.4
(.32)
[5]

3.95
(.14)
[4]

3.96
(.14)
[4]

0.08
(.054)
[66]

1.23
(.075)
[9]

Values for the standard deviation are shown in parentheses ( ) and for the
coefficient of variation in square brackets [ ].
Figure 5 shows the effect of short brittle glass fibers on composites with two
different meshes. The increase in the flexural strength for the AR/Glass mesh
composites is accompanied by a lower maximum deflection at failure, in addition to a
decrease in crack spacing. For PP mesh composites, the first cracking load was not
surpassed in the post cracking zone, however the overall load carrying capacity and
the toughness are significantly increased.

Nylon Fibers
Using two different fiber deniers, the effect of nylon fiber size was studied on
composites with glass mesh. Flexural test results in Table 5 show the significance of

1130

M.Perez-PenaandB.Mobasher

Table 4.
Mesh

Flexural response of glass mesh and chopped acrylic and PP fibers.


Fibers

Deflection
mm

Glass
Mesh

Vol.24.No.6

Young's
Modulus
GPa

Strength

Toughness

MPa

Nm

at 1st
crack

at max
load

PEL

MOR

1st
crack

max

No
Fibers

0.35
(.09)
[25]

11.4
(0.51)
[4]

8.0
(1.7)
[22]

3.44
(.45)
[25]

6.45
(.23)
[4]

.06
(.02)
[32]

2.14
(.16)
[7.6]

PP
0.75%

0.45
(.14)
[32]

11.6
(.685)
[6]

8.0
(2.1)
[27]

3.56
(.11)
[3]

7.44
(.21)
[3]

0.07
(.02)
[32]

1.67
(.15)
[28]

Acrylic
0.62%

0.52
(.12)
[22]

10.7
(.94)
[9]

8.8
(2.6)
[29]

4.13
(.11)
[3]

7.2
(.05)
[1 ]

0.1
(.02)
[57]

1.19
(.18)
[9]

Values for the standard deviation are shown in parentheses ( ) and for the
coefficient of variation in square brackets [ ].
small fiber denier. The glass mesh and the nylon fibers, used as a secondary
reinforcement showed superior behavior compared to samples without reinforcement
in the core matrix. The smaller denier (5.0) composites showed higher post crack
5001

~
400t

~
~

Glass Mesh
1.0~ V~ AR Fibers

ib

DeflecUon,
Figure 5.

1'5
mm

Flexural response of hybrid composites with glass fibers.

Vol. 24, No. 6

Table 5.

Mesh

Glass
Mesh

FIBER COMPOSITES, MECHANICAL PROPERTIES, TOUGHNESS

Influence of chopped AR glass fibers on the flexural response of composites


with glass and PP mesh. b) Flexural response of glass mesh composites
with chopped nylon fibers of two different deniers.
Fibers

Deflection
mm

Young's
Modulus
GPa

Strength
MPa

at
I st
crack

at
max
load

PEL

MOR

at 1st
crack

max

No
Fibers

0.35
(.09)
[25]

11.4
(.51)
[4]

8.0
(1.7)
[22]

3.4
(.45)
[25]

6.5
(.23)
[4]

.06
(.02)
[32]

2.14
(.16)
[7.6]

AR
Glass
1.0%

0.33
(.03)
[7]

7.7
(.64)
[8]

9.3
(.62)
[15]

4.0
(. 17)
[4]

5.8
(.34)
[6]

.12
(.01)
[11 ]

2.23
(.02)
[1 ]

No
Fibers

0.41
(.05)
[12]

23.3
(2.9)
[12]

8.6
(1.2)
[15]

4.0
(.31)
[8]

4.4
(.03)
[1]

0.09
(0.01)
[13]

3.65
(.51)
[14]

AR
Glass
1.0%

0.32
(.04)
[14]

23.1
(.34)
[1.5]

9.8
(.36)
[7]

3.9
(.19)
[5]

3.9
(.19)
[4]

0.09
(.01)
[11]

4.79
(.74)
[15]

Nylon
1.7%
D= 5

0.32
(.01)
[4]

12.3
(.04)
[8]

8.9
(.8)
[9]

3.35
(.04)
[1 ]

7.8
(.25)
[3]

0.08
(.007)
[9]

4.37
(0.05)
[1.2]

Nylon
1.7%
D = 32

0.34
(.06)
[19]

13.
(.02)
[5]

10.5
(1.3)
[12.3]

4.03
(.25)
[6]

6.9
(.16)
[2]

0.09
(0.004)
[5]

3.96
(.21)
[3.88]

PP
Mesh

Glass
Mesh

1131

Toughness
Nmm

Values for the standard deviation are shown in parentheses ( ) and for the
coefficient of variation in square brackets [ ].
loads compared to composites with the larger den er (32.0) fiber. These results
confirm the importance of increasing the specific surface area on the strength of the
composites as shown by Romauldi and Batson [11], and others.

Conclusions
Thin sheet lightweight concrete composites were studied. By using various
polymeric and synthetic fibers, the properties of the sheet lightweight concrete

1132

M. Perez-Pena and B. Mobasher

Vol. 24, No. 6

composites can be directly engineered. PP mesh is an effective reinforcing material


for thin concrete products. However, a higher degree of mechanical bonding and
interlocking between the matrix and the mesh can improve the post-peak loading
behavior. Fiber reinforced composites were fabricated with significant post-peak
toughness by using PP fiber contents of 1% or higher (1.12 and 1.48%). Combination
of glass mesh/AR glass fiber increased matrix cracking strength and loading capacity
compared to composites without fibers. Combinations of PP mesh/AR glass show an
increase in first cracking strength and toughness values with no improvement in the
matrix ultimate strength. Increased fiber surface area in composites with a
combination of glass mesh/nylon fibers resulted in improved post peak response.

Acknowledgements
Authors acknowledge the help of Mr. M. R. Alfrejd for conducting the flexural
tests. We would like to thank B.R. Link and R. S. Blancett for their support and
encouragement while working on this paper. We would like to thank Dr. K.C.
Natesaiyer for discussions on the paper. B.M. is thankful to the Research Initiation
Award from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. 82-MSS9211063, Program
Director Dr. Ken Chong)

References
1.
Mobasher, B., Sheppard, T., Slager, R., Krapf, W., ACI, Spring Conv., Boston, MA,
March, 1991.
2.

Hiendl, H., Asbestos Cement Machinery CL. Attenkofer, Ludwigsplatz 30, 8440
Straubing/Germany, p 128.

3.

Schupack, M., ACI, SP-124-21, 1990, pp 421-436.

4.

Balaguru, P. N., and Shah, S. P., Fiber-Reinforced Cement Com.Dosites, pp. 365412, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1992.

5.

Odler, I., Fiber-Reinforced Cementitious Materials eds, S. Mindess & J. Skalny,


Mat. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc., 211, pp.265-273, Pittsburgh, PA 1991.

6.

Mobasher, B., Castro-Montero, A., and Shah, S. P., Exp. Mech., 30, 90, pp. 286294.

7.

Gopalaratnam, V. S., and Shah, S. P., ASCE J. of Eng. Mech. Div., Vol. 113, No.
5, May 1987, pp.635-652.

8.

Mobasher, B., and Shah, S. P., ACI SP 124-8, 1990. pp137-156.

9.

Mobasher, B., and Shah, S. P., ACI Mat. J. Sept-Oct. 1989, pp. 448-458.

10.

EI-Shakra, Z.M. and Gopalaratnam, V.S., Cem. Concr. Res. 23, 1455-1466, 1993.

11.

Romualdi, J. P., and Batson, G. B., J. of Eng. Mech. Div., ASCE, 89, No. EM3,
June 1963, pp.147-168.