The purpose of this proposal is to start a new I/UCRC "Integration of Composites into Infrastructure (CICI)" with a focus on ushering applications and cost-effective rehabilitation schemes using composites in civil and military structures. The lead institution of the proposed Center is WVU with RU, NCSU and UM as research partners.
This new IUCRC will focus on creating new products for specific applications such as pre-cast composite bridge decks and pavement panels, and protection systems to increase the service life of infrastructure damaged by natural and man-made disasters such as earthquake and terror attack. Advances in processing of composites will lead to environmental benefits, as estimates indicate that natural fiber based composites can be manufactured at one-fourth the BTU level of comparable steel sections, and similarly self-cleaning structural composites will help oxidize car exhaust. The Center will integrate scientific endeavors complementing the strengths of all four universities to advance the composite knowledgebase and applications.
The center activities will enhance the international competitiveness of the American industry in the area of composites including modular construction and rapid deployment techniques using natural and bio-materials; thus reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The Nation as a whole would benefit as composite and hybrid material use would, in general, lead to structures of higher safety, shorter construction times and longer life spans at a reduced overall cost with the creation of new job opportunities. The Center plans to recruit graduate students from under-represented groups, including minorities and women by reaching out to the undergraduate student population at each university. In addition, Historically Black Colleges and Universities will be contacted to recruit their students for center activities. The PIs also plan to publish in various journals and conferences to promote the scientific research and knowledge dissemination, and will utilize separate funding mechanisms to educate practicing engineers and end users who are not familiar with composites.
The Center for Integration of Composite into Infrastructure, CICI, is a multi-university I/UCRC Center that was formed in July 2009 in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University. The overall mission of the Center is to accelerate the adoption of polymer composites and innovative construction materials into infrastructure and transportation applications through collective research with the Industry and in collaboration with three other universities. More specifically, the center explored the most effective, practical and cost effective repair and strengthening techniques for rehabilitation of the nation deteriorating infrastructures using fiber reinforced polymer materials. The research explores also the use of the same advanced composite materials for the construction of new civil engineering buildings and bridges to be sustainable, safe, and have longer service life in comparison to the use of traditional construction materials. CICI helped the American Composite Industry to become competitive and generate new job opportunities. For example, the center provided a unique repair technique for severely damaged reinforced concrete bridge columns and restored their lost strength and displacement capacity using a new anchorage system using carbon FRP repair system. The research was based on testing larger scale columns damaged due to simulated earthquake loading, restored with the proposed system and re-tested to failure. The center has completed research, working closely with industry, to develop an innovative 3D-FRP Sandwich panel which was used to construct fully composite trailers which are 35 percent lighter than trailers built with conventional materials. The center developed , with the industry , a unique concrete sandwich panel typically used for the envelope of larger scale commercial buildings which are structurally efficient, lighter in weight and thermally efficient. The concrete sandwich panels contain rigid foam insulation materials and the outer and inner concrete Wythe are connected by specially fabricated carbon FRP Grid. The system is currently widely used by the precast concrete industry. The center has developed also an innovative system to strengthen infill masonry structures using glass FRP material and developed unique anchorage system to ensure effectiveness of the proposed system in term of strength and durability. The system has been used to strengthen an existing infill masonry wall of a large utility company in North Carolina to strengthen the wall against hurricane and unexpected vacuum pressure due to possible explosive. Performance of the proposed systems has been tested in the laboratory using full scale wall and the use of finite element model analysis technique. Most important, the Center has provided unique opportunities for the students to work closely with practicing engineers and to develop new skills related to composite materials and their potential to construct sustainable buildings and bridges