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Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567


Behavior and capacity of RC beams strengthened in shear

with NSM FRP reinforcement
Andrea Rizzo, Laura De Lorenzis *

Department of Innovation Engineering, University of Salento, Via per Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy

Available online 24 October 2007


A recent and promising method for shear strengthening of reinforced concrete (RC) members is the use of near-surface mounted
(NSM) fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) reinforcement. In the NSM method, the reinforcement is embedded in grooves cut onto the sur-
face of the member to be strengthened and filled with an appropriate binding agent such as epoxy paste or cement grout. Only a few
studies have been conducted to date on the use of NSM FRP reinforcement for shear strengthening of RC beams. These studies identified
some critical failure modes related to debonding between the NSM reinforcement and the concrete substrate. However, more tests need
to be conducted to identify all possible failure modes of strengthened beams. Moreover, virtually no test results are available on the
behavior of shear-strengthened beams containing steel shear reinforcement, and on the effect of variables such as the type of epoxy used
as groove filler. This paper illustrates a research program on shear strengthening of RC beams with NSM reinforcement, aimed at gain-
ing more test results to fill the gaps in knowledge mentioned above. A number of beams were tested to analyze the influence on the struc-
tural behavior and failure mode of selected test parameters, i.e. type of NSM reinforcement (round bars and strips), spacing and
inclination of the NSM reinforcement, and mechanical properties of the groove-filling epoxy. One beam strengthened in shear with exter-
nally bonded FRP laminates was also tested for comparison purposes. All beams had a limited amount of internal steel shear reinforce-
ment to simulate a real strengthening situation. Test results are presented and discussed in the paper.
 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Debonding failures; FRP; Near-surface mounted reinforcement; RC beams; Shear strengthening

1. Introduction A more recent and less investigated method for shear

strengthening of RC members is the use of near-surface
One of the major applications of fiber-reinforced poly- mounted (NSM) FRP reinforcement, usually in the form
mer (FRP) composites for strengthening of reinforced con- of round bars or of rectangular bars with large width to
crete (RC) members is their use as additional web thickness ratio (herein briefly indicated as strips). In the
reinforcement to increase the shear capacity of the mem- NSM method, the reinforcement is embedded in grooves
bers. Over the last few years, shear strengthening with cut onto the surface of the member to be strengthened
externally bonded FRP laminates has become a well estab- and filled with an appropriate binding agent such as epoxy
lished technique upon extensive experimental verification paste or cement grout. A review of available research on
and with the development of analytical models reflected NSM strengthening of RC structures is reported in De
in the relevant code provisions. A state-of-the-art review Lorenzis and Teng [9]. For shear strengthening with
of existing research on this topic can be found in Teng NSM reinforcement, the grooves are cut on the sides of
et al. [16]. the member at a desired angle to the beam axis.
Only three studies appear to have been published to date
on the use of NSM FRP reinforcement for shear strength-
Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 0832 297241; fax: +39 0832 297279. ening of RC beams. De Lorenzis and Nanni [7] carried out
E-mail address: (L. De Lorenzis). eight tests on large size T-beams, of which six had no inter-

0950-0618/$ - see front matter  2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1556 A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567

nal stirrups. Carbon FRP (CFRP) ribbed round bars in adopted for computation of the shear capacity of RC
epoxy-filled grooves were used as NSM shear reinforce- beams can be easily generalized to compute the capacity
ment. The test variables included bar spacing and inclina- of shear-strengthened beams controlled by debonding, by
tion angle, and anchorage of the bars in the flange. The incorporating an appropriate bond–slip curve. This
NSM reinforcement produced a shear strength increase approach, but with a simple ideally plastic bond–slip curve
which was as high as 106% in the absence of steel stirrups, for the NSM reinforcement, was used by De Lorenzis and
and still significant in presence of a limited amount of inter- Nanni [7]. Similarly, local bond-slip relationships obtained
nal shear reinforcement. Barros and Dias [3] tested beams from bond tests can also be directly used in the numerical
of different sizes with no internal stirrups. Some of these modelling of debonding failures [15].
beams were strengthened with NSM CFRP strips of differ- As evident from the above summary, the information
ent inclinations, while the rest were strengthened with available on behavior and capacity of RC beams strength-
equivalent amounts of externally bonded FRP shear rein- ened in shear with NSM FRP reinforcement is still very
forcement. The reported strength increases ranged from limited. More tests need to be conducted to further clarify
22% to 77%, and were in all cases larger than those the failure modes of strengthened beams. In particular, it is
obtained with externally bonded FRP. Although the failure important to evaluate the correspondence between bond
modes were not described, based on the reported load– failures of NSM reinforcement in bond tests and debond-
deflection curves, at least some of the beams are believed ing failures of shear-strengthened beams, in order to verify
to have failed in flexure. Nanni et al. [13] reported the test the applicability of local bond-slip models from bond tests
results of a single full-scale PC girder taken from a bridge in predicting debonding failures of shear-strengthened
and shear-strengthened with NSM CFRP strips. The beam beams. Moreover, virtually no test results are available
failed in flexure at a shear force close to the shear resistance on the behavior of shear-strengthened beams containing
predicted by the model given in De Lorenzis and Nanni [7]. steel shear reinforcement, despite this is the most common
Two different failure modes were identified in De situation in practice.
Lorenzis and Nanni [7] for beams strengthened in shear This paper illustrates a research program on shear
with NSM bars. The first was debonding of the FRP bars strengthening of RC beams with NSM reinforcement,
by splitting of the epoxy cover and cracking of the sur- aimed at gaining more test results to fill the gaps in knowl-
rounding concrete, associated with the diagonal tension edge mentioned above. A number of beams were tested to
failure of concrete. This failure mode was prevented by analyze the influence on the structural behavior and failure
providing better anchorage of the NSM bars crossing mode of selected test parameters, i.e. type of NSM rein-
the critical shear crack, by either anchoring the bars in forcement (round bars and strips), spacing and inclination
the beam flange or the use of inclined (e.g. 45) bars at of the NSM reinforcement, and mechanical properties of
a sufficiently close spacing to achieve a longer total bond the groove-filling epoxy. One beam strengthened in shear
length. Once this mechanism was prevented, separation of with externally bonded FRP laminates was also tested for
the concrete cover of the steel longitudinal reinforcement comparison purposes. All beams had a limited amount of
became the controlling failure mode. This second mode, internal steel shear reinforcement to simulate a real
however, may be attributed to the fact that no or very strengthening situation. Test results are presented and dis-
limited steel stirrups were present in these beams. The cussed in the paper.
dowel forces due to shear, not restrained by stirrups, give
rise to tensile stresses in the surrounding concrete. These, 2. Test program
in combination with the wedging action of the bar defor-
mations, produce splitting cracks along the longitudinal The test program consisted of a total of nine, 2.0 m long
reinforcement which eventually lead to failure of the RC beams with a rectangular 200-mm · 210-mm cross-sec-
beam. This mode is unlikely in beams with a more realis- tion (Fig. 1). All beams had internal steel flexural and shear
tic amount of steel stirrups. The most important failure reinforcement, designed to ensure that unstrengthened and
mode is thus debonding of the FRP reinforcement. shear-strengthened beams would all fail in shear. The steel
Although it has not been observed so far, tensile rupture tension and compression reinforcement consisted respec-
of the NSM reinforcement is another possible failure tively of four and two steel deformed bars with 22-mm
mode. nominal diameter. The steel shear reinforcement consisted
The debonding failure mode identified by De Lorenzis of closed double-legged stirrups. One half of each beam
and Nanni [7] in shear-strengthened beams is similar to starting from midspan (side A in Fig. 1) was taken as the
the bond failure mode of the same NSM bars in bond spec- ‘‘test side’’, while the other half (side B in Fig. 1) was
imens [8]. This observation has an important consequence designed as the ‘‘strong side’’. Only the test side was
on modelling of debonding failures of shear-strengthened strengthened in shear with FRP systems and appropriately
RC beams. If confirmed, it indicates that local bond-slip instrumented with strain gages to monitor the strain distri-
relationships developed from bond tests can be directly bution in the internal steel stirrups and in the shear
used in predicting debonding failures of RC beams shear- strengthening system, as detailed later. The amount of steel
strengthened with NSM FRP bars. The truss model usually shear reinforcement in the two sides was designed to ensure
A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567 1557

Side A (Test Side) Side B (Strong Side)

4 Stirrups Ø6 562 14 Stirrups Ø10
@ 160 mm o.c. A P/2 P/2 @ 50 mm o.c.


80 80 519 25 25
200 800 1000
(a) Longitudinal view (dimensions in mm)

Section A -A Section B -B
18 18 14 14
14 10
2 Ø22 173 2 Ø22 173
210 210
4 Ø22 4 Ø22

20 16
200 Closed Stirrups 200 Closed Stirrups
Ø6 @ 160 mm o.c. Ø10 @ 50 mm o.c.
(b) Cross sections (dimensions in mm)
Fig. 1. Geometrical details of the RC beams.

that shear failure would occur in the test side. As a result,  type of groove-filling epoxy. Two commercially avail-
side A had stirrups with 6-mm nominal diameter spaced at able epoxies were selected for their significantly different
160 mm o.c. (section A–A in Fig. 1), and side B had stir- values of tensile strength and modulus of elasticity. The
rups with 10-mm nominal diameter spaced at 50 mm o.c. current knowledge indicates these two properties of the
(section B in Fig. 1). The thickness of the concrete cover groove filler as the main ones affecting the bond behav-
to the stirrups is shown in Fig. 1. ior [9]. Bond tests on NSM reinforcement embedded
One beam was unstrengthened, to serve as the control with these two types of epoxy had shown a significant
beam. The other eight beams were all strengthened in shear influence of the type of epoxy on the bond behavior
with FRP systems within the test side. The test variables and capacity [6], hence it was of interest to verify
were whether this different bond behavior would correspond
to a different behavior and capacity of shear-strength-
 type of FRP strengthening system. As the main focus of ened beams;
this investigation is on shear strengthening with the  inclination of the NSM reinforcement with respect to
NSM method, seven beams out of eight were strength- the axis of the beam. Two different inclinations were
ened with NSM reinforcement. For a comparative eval- selected, namely 90 (vertical reinforcement) and 45;
uation of the NSM and externally bonded techniques,  spacing of the NSM reinforcement. For each inclination
one beam was strengthened with one ply of externally of NSM reinforcement, two different spacings were
bonded laminate, using the U-wrap configuration. This selected, namely: 45 mm and 73 mm for vertical rein-
configuration has been shown to be more effective than forcement, and 73 mm and 146 mm for 45 reinforce-
side bonding, and is also more practical than complete ment. All these spacings are measured along the beam
wrapping in beam applications [1]; axis.
 type of NSM reinforcement, i.e. round bars and strips.
Previous investigations on flexural strengthening of Table 1 illustrates the test program. The beam codes
RC beams with NSM reinforcement have indicated a used for the strengthened beams are characterized by two
better performance of NSM strips compared with initial letters indicating the type of FRP strengthening sys-
NSM round bars of equivalent cross-sectional area, tem (UW for externally bonded U-wrap, NB for NSM
due to a better bond behavior of NSM strips and hence round bars, and NS for NSM strips), followed by two dig-
to a delayed occurrence of debonding failures in beams its indicating the angle of inclination of the fibers of the
strengthened with NSM strips [10]. Equivalent data on FRP reinforcement (90 or 45). For the beams strengthened
shear strengthening is not available yet; with NSM reinforcement, the code continues with two dig-
1558 A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567

Table 1
Test program
Beam Strengthening system Type of groove- Angle of the CFRP fibers Spacing of the strengthening system
filling epoxy to the beam axis, a () measured along the beam axis, sf (mm)
C None (control beam) – – –
UW90 Externally bonded – 90 0 (continuous strengthening)
CFRP laminate
NB90-73-a NSM CFRP round a 90 73
NB90-73-b bars b 90 73
NB90-45-b b 90 45
NB45-146-a a 45 146
NB45-73-a a 45 73
NS90-73-a NSM CFRP strips a 90 73
NS45-146-a a 45 146

its indicating the spacing of the reinforcement measured to ensure that the groove-filling epoxy had reached its full
along the beam axis in mm, and finally with a letter indicat- mechanical properties.
ing the type of groove-filling epoxy (a or b). For example The beams were simply supported at the ends and tested
beam NB45-73-a is strengthened with NSM round bars, under four-point bending with a net span of 1.6 m and a
inclined at 45 to the beam axis, at a spacing of 73 mm shear span of 519 mm, resulting in a shear span to effective
measured along the beam axis, having grooves filled with depth ratio a/d = 3 (Fig. 1). Due to this a/d ratio, the
type-a epoxy. beams can be classified as slender and the arching effect
In the beam to be strengthened with externally bonded can be considered of limited influence on their shear behav-
FRP laminate in the U-wrap pattern, the bottom corners ior and capacity.
of the beam in the region where the laminate had to be A total of six LVDTs were deployed to measure the mid-
bonded were first rounded up to a radius of curvature of span deflections on both sides of the beam, the quarter-
at least 20 mm. The side and bottom surfaces of the beam span deflections of sides A and B on one lateral side of
in the region to be strengthened were roughened by the beam, and the settlements of the two supports on one
mechanical abrasion, cleaned with pressurized air and lateral side of the beam. Strain gauges were attached at
primed, in preparation for bonding of the FRP laminate. critical positions on the steel shear reinforcement prior to
The laminate U-jacket was then formed by the wet lay- casting of the beams, on the NSM FRP reinforcement
up technique and the system was left for curing at room prior to its installation, and on the externally bonded
temperature for at least two weeks before testing. FRP laminate prior to testing. The beams were tested in
In the beams to be strengthened with NSM reinforce- displacement-control mode using a 500-kN hydraulic actu-
ment, preparation began by saw-cutting the grooves to ator with a cross-head displacement rate of 1.2 to 1.5 mm/
the desired width, depth, inclination and spacing onto the min. Load, displacements and strains were all recorded by
two side covers of the beam over the full depth. For embed- an electronic data acquisition system with a 1-Hz sampling
ment of NSM round bars, the grooves had square cross- rate. At regular load intervals during each test, the applied
section with a nominal size of 12 mm, corresponding to load was kept constant for a few minutes to allow a
one and half the actual diameter of the bar. The actual detailed monitoring of position, length and opening of
groove dimensions measured after saw-cutting varied the shear cracks.
between 13 and 15 mm in both width and depth. For
embedment of the NSM strips, the grooves had rectangular 3. Material properties
cross-section with nominal 5-mm width and 18-mm depth,
to allow at least 1.5-mm side clearance between strip and Prior to testing of the beams, material characterization
groove surfaces. Inclination and spacing of the grooves was carried out on concrete, steel reinforcements, CFRP
varied according to the test program, as specified in Table round bars and strips, and groove-filling epoxies.
1. Pressurized air was used to remove debris and dust to The concrete had an average compressive strength of
ensure proper bonding between the epoxy adhesive and 29.3 MPa (with a coefficient of variation [COV] of 13.5%)
the concrete. Each groove was then partially filled with determined on seven standard (150-mm diameter · 300-
the epoxy adhesive, and the FRP reinforcement was subse- mm length) concrete cylinders. The average splitting tensile
quently inserted and lightly pressed to displace the adhesive strength determined on six standard cylinders was equal to
and to force it to fill the space between the reinforcement 2.0 MPa (COV 14.6%).
and the sides of the groove. The groove was then filled with Six standard specimens were tested for each type of steel
more adhesive and the surface was leveled by removing the reinforcement. The steel rebars with 22-mm diameter used
excess adhesive. Finally, the system was left for curing at as flexural tension and compression reinforcement had a
room temperature for at least three weeks before testing, yield strength of 544.5 MPa (COV 2.2%) and a modulus
A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567 1559

of elasticity of 211.3 GPa (COV 5.7%). From these two val- strength is 2068 MPa. These values yield an ultimate ten-
ues, the strain at yielding can be calculated as 0.26%. The sile strain of 1.70%.
steel rebars with 6-mm diameter used as stirrups within Two types of epoxy paste were used for embedment of
the test side of the beams had a yield strength of the NSM reinforcement. Both are two component, 100%
665.3 MPa (COV 6.3%) and a modulus of elasticity of solid, non-sag, tixotropic epoxy adhesive pastes obtained
251.5 GPa (COV 18.1%). From these two values, the strain by mixing resin and hardener in a 3:1 weight ratio. The
at yielding can be calculated as 0.26%. two types differ by the values of tensile strength and modu-
The material properties for the FRP round bars and lus of elasticity, and will be conventionally labeled as type-a
strips to be used as NSM reinforcement were determined and type-b epoxy. The tensile properties of the two epoxies
according to the ACI 440.3R-04 guidelines [2]. The round were determined according to ASTM D638. Based on the
CFRP bars used in this study are manufactured through average of seven and five test results, the direct tensile
the pultrusion process and are made of high strength con- strength and secant tensile elastic modulus of type-a epoxy
tinuous carbon fibers embedded into a vynilester matrix, resulted equal to 18.6 MPa (COV 11.8%) and 4.15 GPa
with a 55% nominal fiber content. For improvement of (COV 5.0%), respectively. Based on the average of six and
the bond properties, the surface of the bars is spirally five test results, the direct tensile strength and secant tensile
wound with a carbon fiber tow and sand coated elastic modulus of type-b epoxy resulted equal to 22.8 MPa
(Fig. 2a). The nominal diameter is 7.5 mm while the (COV 6.0%) and 12.87 GPa (COV 11.5%), respectively.
actual diameter, taken as the average of several sample Finally, the CFRP laminate used as externally bonded
measurements along the bar axis, resulted equal to reinforcement is a high strength unidirectional sheet with
8.0 mm. Based on the average of three test results, the 0.165 mm nominal fiber thickness, impregnated in situ with
tensile strength and the modulus of elasticity of the bars epoxy resin by the wet layup technique. The manufac-
resulted equal to 2214 MPa (COV 0.1%) and 145.7 GPa turer’s values of tensile strength and elastic modulus are
(COV 5.7%), respectively. These values yield an ultimate equal to 3430 MPa and 230 GPa, respectively, yielding an
tensile strain of 1.52%. The CFRP strips used in this ultimate tensile strain of 1.49%.
study are manufactured through pultrusion and are made
of carbon fibers with 4823 MPa tensile strength and 4. Test results
227 GPa elastic modulus embedded into a bisphenol
epoxy vinyl ester matrix. The nominal fiber content is The main test results are reported in Table 2 and are
60% by volume. The strips have a 2 · 16 mm rectangular illustrated as follows. In the table, the last column reports
cross section and a surface roughened with peel-ply sur- for each beam the FRP contribution to the shear capacity,
face treatment. Based on the average of three test results, VFRP, computed as the difference between the ultimate
the modulus of elasticity resulted equal to 121.5 GPa shear force of the shear-strengthened beam and that of
(COV 2.5%). The manufacturer’s value of the tensile the control beam.

Fig. 2. CFRP round bars and strips used as NSM reinforcement.

Table 2
Test results
Beam Ultimate load Ultimate shear Increase in ultimate shear force Increase in ultimate shear VFRP
(kN) force (kN) over the control beam (%) force over beam UW90 (%) (kN)
C 244.3 122.2 – – –
UW90 283.0 141.5 15.8 – 19.3
NB90-73-a 352.8 176.4 44.4 24.7 54.2
NB90-73-b 297.1 148.6 21.6 5.0 26.4
NB90-45-b 301.5 150.8 23.4 6.5 28.6
NB45-146-a 322.6 161.3 32.1 14.0 39.1
NB45-73-a 300.3 150.2 22.9 6.1 28.0
NS90-73-a 345.3 172.7 41.3 22.0 50.5
NS45-146-a 309.7 154.9 26.8 9.4 32.7
1560 A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567

Fig. 3. Shear cracking progression and failure mode of the control beam.

Fig. 4. Shear crack pattern and failure mode of beam UW90.

4.1. Cracking progression and failure modes by the tensile strength of concrete. As the applied load
increased, this first shear crack propagated until reaching
During loading of the control beam, diagonal shear the edges of the adjacent epoxy-filled grooves on both sides
cracks initiated almost simultaneously at the center of both of the crack. The following evolution of the cracking pat-
shear spans, at about mid-height of the beam, at a load of tern differed between beams with vertical and inclined
about 115 kN. As the load increased, the first shear crack NSM reinforcement.
propagated and more shear cracks formed within the shear In the beams with vertical NSM reinforcement, more
span of the test side, at an angle variable between 21 and shear cracks became gradually visible on the concrete sur-
36 to the beam axis (Fig. 3). These cracks widened and faces between adjacent epoxy-filled grooves. These cracks
propagated until failure resulted at a load of 244.3 kN. normally started at the bottom of the beam as flexural
Beam UW90 failed by debonding of the CFRP laminate cracks, and propagated until the top of the adjacent
(Fig. 4) at a load of 283.0 kN. During loading of this beam, epoxy-filled groove without crossing the epoxy, as approx-
the evolution of the shear cracking pattern in the test side imately illustrated in Fig. 5a. In these beams, close to fail-
could not be monitored due to the presence of the external ure, a final crack became visible close to the point of
wrapping, but the final pattern was detected after failure by application of the load. This crack started vertically
completely removing the laminate. The angle of the shear (approximately) at the bottom of the beam as a flexural
cracks to the beam axis was close to 30 (Fig. 4a). crack, then continued diagonally at mid-height of the beam
All the beams strengthened with NSM reinforcement, in the middle between the two NSM bars (strips) closest to
except for beams NB90-45-b and NB45-73-a, showed a the point of application of the load, and finally propagated
similar evolution of the cracking pattern and the same fail- vertically until the upper edge of the closest NSM bar
ure mechanism. The first diagonal shear crack appeared in (strip) (Figs. 5a and 6a). One similar vertical crack running
the shear span of the test side, at about mid-heigth of the along the height of the beam also formed close to the sup-
beam, at a load variable between 123.0 and 135.0 kN port of the test side. On the bottom and on the top surfaces
(Fig. 5). This load is close to the load at first shear cracking of the beam, two cracks were also running parallel to the
in the control beam, as this load level is mainly influenced beam edges at a distance from the side surfaces approxi-
A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567 1561

(a) Beam NB90-73-a (b) Beam NB45-73-a

(c) Beam NB45-146-a (d) Beam NB90-45-b

Fig. 5. Typical cracking patterns for the beams strengthened in shear with NSM reinforcement.

mately equal to the cover of the internal steel stirrups shear reinforcement separated from the core of the beam.
(Fig. 6b). These cracks, along with the two vertical cracks It is important to note that, at failure, the NSM reinforce-
mentioned above, originated the final failure pattern, in ment appeared still well bonded to the concrete side covers
which the two side concrete covers of the internal steel that had separated from the beam core.

Fig. 6. Typical failure mode for beam strengthened in shear with NSM bars.
1562 A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567

Also in the beams with inclined NSM reinforcement, (a) 400

more shear cracks became visible on the concrete surfaces Spalling of the side
350 concrete covers
between adjacent epoxy-filled grooves as the applied load
increased. However, these cracks started at about mid- 300 Splitting of the cover of the

Applied load (kN)

height of the beam as diagonal cracks and propagated longitudinal steel rebars
maintaining a diagonal direction until the edges of the
adjacent epoxy-filled grooves (Fig. 5c). Close to failure, 200
a vertical crack running along the beam height formed Debonding of
150 the U-wrap C
close to the support of the test side, and horizontal cracks UW90
formed in the vicinity of the point of application of the 100 First Flexural NB90-73-a
Cracking NS90-73-a
load on top of the beam due to local crushing of the con- NB45-146-a
crete. In beam NS45-146-a, horizontal cracks also formed NS45-146-a
at the bottom of the beam close to the support, due to 0
spalling of the bottom concrete cover of the steel longitu- 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0 12.5 15.0 17.5
dinal reinforcement. Also in these beams, failure occurred Mid-span deflection (mm)
by separation of the side concrete covers of the steel 400
stirrups. Spalling of the side
Two exceptions to the cracking progressions outlined 350 concrete covers
above were beams NB90-45-b and NB45-73-a, which were 300
Splitting of the cover of the
characterized by the closest spacings of the NSM reinforce-
Applied load (kN)
longitudinal steel rebars
ment. In these beams, virtually no shear cracks were visible 250

on the side surfaces of the beam in the shear span of the test 200
side, due to the close spacing of the FRP reinforcement Debonding of
150 the U-wrap
(Figs. 5b,d, and 6c). Close to failure, vertical cracks formed
in the vicinity of the point of application of the load and at C
100 First Flexural UW90
the support, and propagated along the height of the beam Cracking NB90-73-b
50 NB90-45-b
maintaining a nearly vertical direction, until failure NB45-73-a
resulted by separation of the side concrete covers of the 0
internal steel stirrups, as previously explained for the other 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0 12.5 15.0 17.5
beams strengthened with NSM reinforcement. After fail- Mid-span deflection (mm)
ure, the inner core of the beam was inspected by completely Fig. 7. Load-mid-span–deflection curves.
removing the side concrete covers. As expected, diagonal
shear cracks were visible (Fig. 6d), indicating that the
absence of diagonal cracking was only apparent. This After the peak load, the load–displacement curves
absence of cracks on the side surfaces was due to the dense show a descending branch which stabilizes at a nearly
location of epoxy-filled grooves and hence to a larger resis- constant value of applied load for large displacements.
tance opposed by the side concrete covers to being crossed This last part of the load–deflection curve (after which
by the internal diagonal cracks than in the other beams the tests were stopped and the beams were unloaded) is
with less dense NSM reinforcement. virtually coincident for all the beams, and the value of
load attained at the end of this stage is slightly lower than
4.2. Displacements and strains the capacity of the control beam. Such a behavior could
be observed because the beams were loaded in displace-
In Fig. 7, the load–deflection curves of the beams are ment-control mode with a low cross-head displacement
reported. The deflection is taken as the average of the read- rate, hence shear failure was not abrupt and the beams
ings of the two LVDTs on both lateral sides of the beam at continued to deflect as the failure crack pattern was wid-
mid-span. As expected, the stiffness of the beams is not sig- ening and propagating. At an advanced post-failure stage,
nificantly affected by the shear strengthening applied. The horizontal cracks formed at the level of the steel longitu-
only exceptions are beams NB90-45-b and NB45-73-a dinal reinforcement due to its dowel action, as indicated
(Fig. 7b), characterized by the smallest spacings of the in Fig. 7.
NSM reinforcement, which show a stiffness slightly lower Fig. 8 illustrates examples of the load–strain curves
than that of the control beam. In these beams, the dense obtained from the strain gages attached to the steel stir-
shear reinforcement created a significant difference in stiff- rups at various locations. In both the unstrengthened
ness between the core of the beam and the two side covers, and the strengthened beams, the steel stirrups started to
which probably induced the early formation of internal develop strains only after the appearance of the first
micro- and macro-cracks between these portions of the shear cracks in the concrete. Note that the load at first
beam. This might explain the reduction in stiffness since shear cracking was rather close for the control and the
early stages of loading. strengthened beams, as mentioned in the previous section.
A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567 1563

C UW90 400
400 NB90-73-b NS90-73-a C
NS45-146-a NB90-45-b 350 UW90
NB45-146-a NB45-73-a NS90-73-a
300 300

Applied load (kN)

Applied load (kN)

250 NB90-45-b

200 200
Strain Gauge Strain Gauge
150 80 160
L 150 80 160
P/2 C

100 100

50 800
281 50 281
Dimensions in mm 800
Dimensions in mm
0 0
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000
Strain (με) Strain (με)

(a) Strains in the second stirrup after the support (b) Strains in the first stirrup after the support
Fig. 8. Strains in the internal steel shear reinforcement.

For the control beam, all stirrups started developing is a useful information as it indicates that the shear cracks
strains at an applied load of about 100 kN, which com- formed in the core of these beams at about the same load
pares well with the value of 115 kN at which the first and with the same rate of propagation than in the other
shear crack was detected on the beam. For the strength- beams. Note that the post-failure inspection of the core
ened beams, the second and the third stirrups started of these beams could only confirm the presence of the shear
developing strains at an applied load of about 120– cracks at failure but could obviously give no indication on
135 kN, corresponding to the first shear cracking load. the load level at which they had appeared.
These two stirrups were the closest to the location of Finally, Fig. 9 illustrates the load–strain curves of the
the first shear cracks, i.e. to the middle of the shear span. externally bonded and NSM FRP reinforcement at various
Once the first shear cracks had formed, the strain in the locations. FRP strains become significant at load levels lar-
stirrups increased with load at a significantly faster rate in ger that the load at first shear cracking, when both the
the control beam than in the strengthened beams, as in internal steel stirrups and the external shear strengthening
the latter beams part of the shear was resisted by the systems are activated. Also in this case, the position of
FRP reinforcement. the strain gages relative to that of the shear cracks is heav-
In the first stirrup after the support, the load at which ily influential on the magnitude of the strains, and hence
the first strains were developed was close to the first shear the measured strains are not necessarily maximum values.
cracking load for the control beam, but was significantly Unlike strains in the steel stirrups, strains in NSM FRP
larger than this load for the strengthened beams. In these reinforcement do not always increase as the applied load
beams, the propagation of the first shear crack from the increases. In most beams, at least at some locations, there
middle of the shear span towards the support was are intervals of applied load at which the NSM FRP strains
restrained by the presence of the NSM reinforcement remain constant or decrease while the applied load is
(Fig. 5), and hence the stirrup close to the support was pre- increasing. This can be attributed to the loss of bond
vented from developing significant strains until large load between the NSM reinforcement and the concrete beam.
levels. In principle, it is impossible to identify from the strain
The magnitude of the measured strains is heavily influ- readings alone which of several possible phenomena is
enced by the position of the strain gages relative to that responsible for such loss. In the case of the NSM reinforce-
of the shear cracks. For instance, of the strains reported ment, this loss of composite action could be due to debond-
in Fig. 8, the maximum strains measured at the top of ing at the CFRP–epoxy or the epoxy–concrete interface, or
the second stirrup after the support are larger than those to formation of debonding cracks in the concrete. Based on
measured at the bottom of the first stirrup after the sup- the observations during the tests, it can be concluded that
port. In Fig. 8a, the stirrup strain at peak load is very close this loss of bond was due to the formation of cracks grad-
to the yielding strain of steel, which indicates that the stir- ually separating the side concrete covers of the steel stir-
rups gave a full contribution to the shear capacity of the rups from the beam core. The fact that, even in the
beam also in presence of the FRP shear strengthening. presence of strain decreases in the NSM reinforcement,
It may be noted that the strains of stirrups in beams the applied load could still significantly increase, indicates
NB90-45-b and NB45-73-a, in which virtually no shear a pseudo-ductile nature of the debonding phenomenon.
cracks were visible on the lateral surfaces of the test side, This pseudo-ductility is likely to be associated to the aggre-
are similar to those of the other strengthened beams. This gate interlock present at the micro- or macro-cracked inter-
1564 A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567

350 SG4

300 SG1 300


Applied load (kN)

SG 2 SG1
Applied load (kN)

250 250
200 SG2

150 150
100 100 SG3

50 SG1 SG2 SG 3 50 SG1 SG2

0 0
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000
Strain (με) Strain (με)
(a) Beam UW90 (b) Beam NS90-73-a
400 400

350 SG3 350 SG4 SG3

300 300 SG1
Applied load (kN)

SG1 Applied load (kN)
250 250

200 SG3 200

150 150 SG3

100 100 SG2

50 50 SG1 SG5
0 0
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 500 0
Strain (με) Strain (με)
(c) Beam NB45-146-a (d) Beam NS45-146-a
400 400

350 350
300 300
Applied load (kN)
Applied load (kN)

250 250
200 SG3 200
150 SG1 SG2 150
100 SG3 100
50 SG5 50
0 0
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000
Strain (με) Strain (με)
(e) Beam NB90-45-b (f) Beam NB45-73-a
Fig. 9. Strains in the NSM FRP reinforcement.

faces, and to the consequent cohesive stresses carried to the control beam. In particular, the beam strengthened
across such interfaces. with externally bonded U-wrapped laminate was about
16% stronger than the control beam, and those strength-
5. Discussion ened with NSM reinforcement had increases in capacity
between 22% and 44% over the control beam. This confirms
As reported in Table 2, the shear-strengthened beams that externally bonded and NSM FRP can be effectively
experienced significant increases in capacity with respect used for strengthening of RC beams deficient in shear.
A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567 1565

The area of CFRP used in beams UW90, NS90-73 and beams NS90-73-a and NS45-146-a, having NSM strips.
NB90-73 was equal to 330, 877 and 1211 mm2/m, respec- Due to the particular failure mode, the difference in shear
tively, i.e. in beams NS90-73 and NB90-73 it was 2.7 and capacity is very limited. The two beams with NSM strips
3.7 times larger than in beam UW90. The tensile capacity have slightly lower ultimate loads than those with NSM
per unit length of the strengthening systems in the same round bars. This could be explained by the local bond-slip
beams was equal to 1132, 1813 and 2681 kN/m, respec- behaviour of NSM strips being slightly stiffer than that of
tively, i.e. in beams NS90-73 and NB90-73 it was 1.6 and NSM round bars. As mentioned above, a stiffer local
2.4 times larger than in beam UW90. These two ratios bond-slip behaviour generates higher bond shear stresses
are lower than the first ones, due to the higher tensile transferred to a shorter portion of the strip, and this
strength of the FRP laminates compared to round bars may accelerate debonding. Also in this case, the debond-
and strips. If the FRP contributions to the shear capacity, ing cracks form in the concrete and hence the larger bond
VFRP, are compared, those of beams NS90-73 and NB90- strength of NSM strips compared to round bars, docu-
73 are 2.6 and 2.8 times larger than that of beam UW90. mented in previous bond experiments [9], does not delay
The fact that these two ratios are larger than the previous failure as the debonding failure mode is different than in
ones indicates a greater efficiency in use of the FRP tensile the bond tests. Comparing beams NB90-73-a and NS90-
strength when NSM reinforcement is used. This results 73-a it can also be observed that the tensile capacity per
from early debonding of the externally bonded FRP, which unit length of the strengthening system is 1.48 times larger
prevents the high tensile strength of the laminate from in the first beam, while VFRP is only 1.07 times larger.
being efficiently exploited. This indicates that, from the standpoint of the efficiency
For beams strengthened in shear with externally bonded in use of the FRP tensile strength, NSM strips are prefer-
FRP laminates, several design formulae and predictive able. In the test series reported herein, this is a natural
models exist for computation of the FRP contribution to consequence of the failure mode. As long as failure
shear capacity. The computed VFRP for beam UW90 always occurs in the concrete, the efficiency in use of
according to North-American [1] and European [11] design the FRP is higher when the amount of FRP materials
guidelines, and to the model by Chen ans Teng [5], is adopted is lower.
respectively equal to 42.5, 28.8 and 39.2 kN, i.e. always lar- Beams NB90-73-b and NB90-45-b, NB45-146-a and
ger than the measured value of 19.3 kN. The main reason NB45-73-a differed by the spacing of the NSM reinforce-
for the discrepancy is likely the fact that the beam had ment. Due to the particular failure mode, decreasing the
internal shear reinforcement, which has already been spacing of the reinforcement did not result in a higher shear
shown to lead to unconservative predictions by the avail- capacity but could even result detrimental. As the spacing
able formulae [14,4]. decreased, the interaction between the bond actions of
The effect of the type of groove-filling epoxy can be adjacent NSM bars became more significant and this
observed by comparing the capacity of beams NB90-73- resulted in an earlier formation of the debonding failure
a and b. Beam NB90-73-a, whose grooves were filled with pattern.
type-a epoxy having lower elastic modulus and tensile A similar consideration can be made by comparing test
strength, failed at a significantly higher load, and its results of beams NB90-73-a and NB45-73-a, which differed
FRP contribution to the shear capacity was more than by the angle of inclination of the bars to the beam axis. As
twice that of beam NB90-73-b. Research on bond behav- this angle changed from 90 to 45, the shear capacity
ior of NSM reinforcement [6] has shown that using a decreased. This can again be explained by the particular
groove-filling epoxy with lower modulus of elasticity failure mode. For a given spacing of the NSM bars mea-
and tensile strength results in a more compliant, weaker sured along the beam axis, the spacing between the bars
and more ductile bond-slip behavior. In a strengthened in their orthogonal direction decreases as their angle of
beam, a more compliant local bond-slip behavior implies inclination increases. This strengthens the interaction
that the load acting on each bar at the location of the between the bond stresses around adjacent bars and hence
shear crack is transferred by bond shear stresses to a accelerates the formation of the debonding failure pattern.
longer length of bar. This gives rise to lower bond shear The failure mode obtained in this study for the beams
stresses for a given load, which delays the initiation and strengthened in shear with NSM reinforcement is very dif-
propagation of the debonding cracks. In the strengthened ferent from those reported in previous investigations [7]. It
beams, the debonding cracks form in the concrete and appears that the failure mode observed in this investigation
hence the smaller bond strength of NSM systems with is influenced by two main effects:
type-a epoxy does not accelerate failure as the debonding
failure mode is different than in the bond tests [6] (see fur- – the spacing of the bars. It is reasonable to expect that
ther discussion below). NSM bars located at a large spacing tend to debond
The effect of the cross-sectional shape of the NSM from the concrete substrate independently from each
reinforcement (round bars vs. narrow strips) can be exam- other, as observed in De Lorenzis and Nanni [7]. When
ined comparing test results of beams NB90-73-a and the bars are at a close spacing, the bond stresses between
NB45-146-a, having NSM round bars, with those of adjacent bars and the concrete substrate tend to mutu-
1566 A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567

ally interact. The formation of a debonding failure pat- However, this approach is no longer applicable when
tern involving more bars at the same time becomes failure occurs by detachment of the side concrete covers
increasingly probable as it requires a lower load than such as in the present investigation. Although the present
the formation of a separate debonding failure pattern test results indicate that the steel stirrups had yielded prior
for each single bar; to failure of the beam, the available data are not sufficient
– the presence of internal shear reinforcement. The verti- to draw general conclusions. The interaction between steel
cal legs of the steel stirrups create two vertical planes and FRP shear contributions should be accounted for
of weakness which facilitate the detachment of the side while attempting to model the failure mechanism observed
concrete covers. in the present study.

Based on results of this investigation, the question 6. Conclusions

raised in the introduction on whether there is correspon-
dence of debonding failure modes between bond speci- Based on results of the present investigation, the follow-
mens and shear-strengthened beams should be answered ing main conclusions can be drawn:
negatively. For the failure mode observed in the present
investigation, bond-slip models determined on bond spec- – FRP systems and, in particular, NSM FRP reinforce-
imens cannot be directly used to predict the ultimate load ment can significantly enhance the shear capacity of
of shear-strengthened beams, which greatly complicates RC beams also in presence of a limited amount of steel
the modeling task. shear reinforcement. In this test program, the increase in
A possible modeling approach is a detailed three-dimen- shear capacity was about 16% for the beam strengthened
sional numerical modeling, accounting for the bond behav- with externally bonded U-wrapped laminate, and ran-
ior of the NSM reinforcement and for the non-linear ged between 22% and 44% for the beams strengthened
behavior of all materials. This approach is computationally with NSM reinforcement. The use of NSM reinforce-
onerous. Analytical modeling able to obtain predictions ment was more efficient in terms of exploitation of the
with a reasonable degree of accuracy for design purposes FRP tensile strength due to early debonding of the
is a viable option. To this end, the observations made externally bonded laminate;
and the test data gathered in this experimental study will – for the beams strengthened with NSM reinforcement,
be very useful for the development of a model addressing the failure mode was in all cases separation of the side
the observed mode of failure. Given that diagonal shear concrete covers of the internal steel stirrups;
cracks form always in the beam core even though they – the use of a stiffer and stronger groove-filling epoxy and,
are not always visible on the beam lateral surfaces, the although to a lesser extent, the use of NSM strips
stresses in the bars can still be modeled assuming the pres- instead of round bars, resulted in a lower FRP contribu-
ence of such cracks. The debonding load should be calcu- tion to the shear capacity. In both cases, the stiffer bond-
lated accounting for the interaction between different bars slip behavior of the joints induced larger peak bond
in the formation of the debonding failure pattern, which stresses and accelerated the initiation of debonding
invalidates the assumption (usually made in previous mod- cracks in the concrete;
els, e.g. [7,5,15]) of each bar being in the same situation of a – due to the particular failure mode, decreasing the spac-
single bar in a simple pull-out test. Note, however, that the ing or increasing the inclination of the bars did not ben-
previous models based on the bond-slip approach remain efit the shear capacity of the beam. In both cases, the
valid when debonding failure in shear of the NSM- reduced distance between the bars accelerated the for-
strengthened beam is controlled by separate debonding of mation of a debonding failure pattern involving all the
each NSM bar with the same mechanisms observed in bars together.
bond tests.
For design purposes, a key issue to be addressed is Further experimental and theoretical research is needed
whether the contributions of steel stirrups and NSM rein- to identify and deeply understand all the possible failure
forcement to the shear capacity can be safely considered mechanisms of beams strengthened in shear with NSM
additive. When failure occurs by separate debonding of reinforcement and to develop rational and accurate pre-
each NSM bar, an analytical model to account for possible dictive models accounting for all these possible
interaction between these two shear contributions within mechanisms.
the bond-slip approach has been proposed by Mohamed
ali et al. [12] and further developed in Rizzo and De Loren-
zis [15]. It was shown that, when NSM reinforcement is Acknowledgments
used, the two shear contributions are generally closer to
being additive than when using externally bonded lami- This investigation was supported by the RELUIS pro-
nates. This is due to the larger bond fracture energy of ject. Degussa Construction Chemicals Italia S.p.A. and
NSM reinforcement, which delays debonding and hence Sika Italia donated the materials used in this investigation,
promotes a more efficient use of the strengthening system. which is gratefully acknowledged.
A. Rizzo, L. De Lorenzis / Construction and Building Materials 23 (2009) 1555–1567 1567

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