Advanced FRP for flooring in buildings
: a low carbon material application in the construction industry

  • Yijian Gao

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Fibre-reinforced polymers (FRP) are building materials that permit both the improvement of long-term building performance and the simplification of the construction process, thanks to their high specific strength, low thermal conductivity, good environmental resistance, and ability to be formed into complex shapes. FRP materials are well-suited to fulfilling many building functions. By integrating traditionally separate building systems and layers into single function-integrated components, and by industrially fabricating those components, the amount of on-site labour can be greatly reduced and overall quality can be improved. The FRP materials used in the construction industry include glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) and carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP). Most GFRP based buildings are lacking in integration and function and only benefit for the small span, with deep beams or slabs. The CFRP based construction component has higher strength and stiffness. However, the investigation into CFRP based buildings has been lacking.

This research aims to investigate the CFRP floor panel, as a primary component in the floor system, to replace traditional concrete floor slab in large buildings. The objectives of this project include the design of CFRP floor panel system in buildings using European design codes, analysing proposed CFRP floor panel by FEA modelling, and experimentally validating design and FEA models using scaled CFRP floor samples. A scale effect of test specimen was investigated in conducting design strength check of full proposed CFRP floor panel. This project supplied design curves with dimensional parameters for practical design of CFRP floor panels, to fit the design specifications required by different buildings with varied dimensions. Design curves present the measurements of deflection and critical stresses against the variation of the proposed CFRP floor panel with different dimensions.

The proposed CFRP floor panel was designed as a pultruded beam with an open cross-section. The design was carried out using the Eurocodes and supported by the finite element analysis (FEA). Modelling results indicated that the proposed floor panel passed the tall design check, recommended by Eurocode, and the safety checks on both deflection and material strength, which are important for producing CFRP floor panel products that meet the dimensional requirements in design of buildings with different design specifications.

Experimental results of scaled CFRP floor panel samples are also presented in this thesis, which successfully validates the design and modelling analysis. The conducted scale effect was amended by a reduction factor of 0.625 for the material strength of the full CFRP panel, which passed the Hashin criteria check. This project also studied the shear effects on bending behaviour of proposed CFRP panel with open cross section consisting of thin-walled plates. An important load-deflection correction factor was proposed, which plays an important role together with geometrical shape factor in the calculation of shear related deflection.

This novel CFRP floor panel can be easily installed in buildings because of its lightweight feature, and easily integrated with the suspending ceiling, ventilation and lighting system because of its designed shape. This investigation also provided plenty of information concerning the use of this potential building component in the low carbon construction industry, which could save up to 50% heating energy and reduceCO2 emissions by 40% compared to the traditional construction industry.
Date of AwardJun 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorJiye Chen (Supervisor), Zhong Yi Zhang (Supervisor) & Dominic Fox (Supervisor)

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