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Title: Structural enhancements with fibre-reinforced epoxy intumescent coatings
Author: Triantafyllidis, Zafeirios
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 1490
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2017
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Epoxy intumescent coatings are fire protection systems for steel structural elements that are widely used in applications that protection from severe hydrocarbon fires is required, such as oil and gas facilities. These polymer coatings react upon heating and expand into a thick porous char layer that insulates the protected steel element. In the typical fire scenarios for these applications, the intumescent coatings must resist very high heat fluxes and highly erosive forces from ignited pressurised gases. Hence, continuous fibre reinforcement is embedded in the thick epoxy coating during installation, so as to ensure the integrity of the weak intumesced char during fire exposure. This reinforcement is typically in the form of a bidirectional carbon and/or glass fibre mesh, thus under normal service conditions a fibre-reinforced intumescent coating (FRIC) is essentially a lightly fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite material. This thesis examines the impacts of embedded high strength fibres on the tensile behaviour of epoxy intumescent materials in their unreacted state prior to fire exposure, and the potential enhancements that arise in the structural performance of elements protected with FRICs. An experimental programme is presented comprising tensile coupon tests of unreacted intumescent epoxies, reinforced with different fibre meshes at various fibre volume fractions. It is demonstrated that the tensile properties of FRICs can be enhanced considerably by including increasing amounts of carbon fibre reinforcement aligned in the principal loading direction, which can be tailored in the desired orientation on the coated structural members to enhance their load carrying capacity and/or deformability. An experimental study is presented on coated intact and artificially damaged I-beams (simulating steel losses from corrosion) tested in bending, demonstrating that FRICs can enhance the flexural response of the beams after yielding of steel, until the tensile rupture of the coatings. An analytical procedure for predicting the flexural behaviour of the coated beams is discussed and validated against the obtained test results, whereas a parametric analysis is performed based on this analytical model to assess the effect of various parameters on the strengthening efficiency of FRICs. The results of this analysis demonstrate that it is feasible to increase the flexural load capacity of thin sections considerably utilising the flexural strength gains from FRICs. Finally, a novel application is proposed in this thesis for FRICs as a potential system for structural strengthening or retrofitting reinforced concrete and concrete-encased steel columns by lateral confinement. An experimental study is presented on the axial compressive behaviour of short, plain concrete and concrete-encased structural steel columns that are wrapped in the hoop direction with FRICs. The results clearly show that epoxy intumescent coatings reinforced with a carbon fibre mesh of suitable weight can provide lateral confinement to the concrete core resisting its lateral dilation, thus resulting in considerable enhancements of the axial strength and deformability of concrete. The observed strengthening performance of the composite protective coatings is found to be at least as good as that of FRP wraps consisting of the same fibre reinforcement mesh and a conventional, non-intumescent epoxy resin. The predictive ability of existing design-oriented FRP confinement models is compared against the experimental results, and is found to be reasonably precise in predicting the peak strength of the tested columns, hence existing models appear to be suitable for design and analysis of column strengthening schemes with the proposed novel FRIC system. The research presented herein shows clearly that FRICs have a strong potential as alternative systems for consideration in the field of structural strengthening and rehabilitation, since they can provide substantial enhancements in the load carrying capacity for both applications considered. At the same time FRICs can thermally protect the underlying structural elements in the event of a fire, by intumescing and charring, thus potentially eliminating the need for additional passive fire protection that is common with conventional fire-rated FRP wrapping systems. Although this thesis provides a proof-of-concept for use of the proposed novel FRICs as structural strengthening materials, considerable additional research is particularly required to study their fire protection performance when applied to concrete substrates, to make use of the proposed hybrid functionality with confidence.
Supervisor: Bisby, Luke ; Lu, Yong Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: fibre-reinforced intumescent coatings ; FRICs ; fire protection ; fibre-reinforced polymers ; structural strengthening ; concrete confinement