Strengthening of concrete beams with externally bonded fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) materials appears to be a feasible way of increasing the load-carrying capacity and stiffness characteristics of existing structures. FRP-strengthened concrete beams can fail in several ways when loaded in bending. The following collapse mechanisms are identified and analysed in this study: steel yield-FRP rupture, steel yield-concrete crushing, compressive failure, and debonding. Here we obtain equations describing each failure mechanism using the strain compatibility method, concepts of fracture mechanics and a simple model for the FRP peeling-off debonding mechanism due to the development of shear cracks. We then produce diagrams showing the beam designs for which each failure mechanism is dominant, examine the effect of FRP sheets on the ductility and stiffness of strengthened components, and give results of four-point bending tests confirming our analysis. The analytical results obtained can be used in establishing an FRP selection procedure for external strengthening of reinforced concrete members with lightweight and durable materials.
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