Fiber reinforced concrete (FRC), a type of reinforced concrete that uses a fibrous substance to increase structural strength, durability and ductility, is a subject of new research and developments. In FRC, short, discrete fibers are uniformly distributed and randomly oriented to provide a kind of three-dimensional stability and include fibers made of steel, glass and synthetic or natural material. Depending on which material is used, they offer varying properties and characteristics.
For example steel fibers can increase the structural strength of concrete and reduce the steel reinforcement requirements as well as crack widths for better durability. Also the addition of steel fibers to a concrete mix can improve impact along with abrasion-resistance and freeze-thaw resistance.
Using polypropylene or nylon fibers in concrete can improve the mix cohesion and freeze/ thaw resistance and make concrete easier to pump long distances. Furthermore, the fibers provide an increased resistance to plastic shrinkage during curing and improve the structural strength and ductility. As with steel fibers, polypropylene and nylon fibers reduce the steel reinforcement requirements.
Sometimes a construction project will use both steel and polymeric fibers to get the benefit of structural strength provided by steel fibers and the “resistance to explosive spalling and plastic shrinkage improvements provided by polymeric fibers.” After testing to ensure minimum requirements are met, some precast applications and industrial flooring use steel or synthetic fibers in place of rebar in reinforced concrete.
While fiber reinforced concrete has been around for centuries such as horsehair in mortar, straw in mudbricks, and the use of asbestos fibers during the 1900s, there are new developments and innovations in FRC. One example is High-performance Fiber Reinforced Concrete (HPFRC), which researchers claim to be 500 times more resistance to cracking and 40 percent lighter than traditional concrete. More research is being done to validate the claims.
Another recent study used carpet waste fibers in concrete as a way to environmentally recycle carpet. Also a new trend that completely changes our view of concrete as an opaque mass is to add optical fibers to the mix to create a translucent concrete.
At The Conco Companies, we are one of the leading concrete contractors in the Western U.S. and offer a wide range of quality services and products. Our experience includes providing services for commercial, educational, parking and other construction development as well as public works projects. We serve California, Washington State, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada.