Fatigue Performance of a Hybrid CFRP/STEEL Splice Detail for Modular Bridge Expansion Joints
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As traffic demand on bridges increases, loading cycles on critical components will increase, reducing their service life. Modular bridge expansion joints, which are imperative to allowing the bridge superstructure to move, are susceptible to fatigue damage at their field splice. These splices are used to connect segments of the total joint, during staged construction. Current splice designs are either bolted or welded connections, which allow stress concentrations to induce pre-mature fatigue failure. This thesis examines the use of a hybrid FRP/steel design under fatigue loading for use as a splice detail. The splice detail consists of steel plates bolted to steel beam webs and CFRP pultruded plates adhesively bonded to the underside of the steel beam flanges. Two different moduli of CFRP were examined: Normal Modulus and Ultra High Modulus. Two beams of each modulus were tested under static conditions and six under constant amplitude fatigue loading. A testing rig was used to simulate similar bending moments experienced in bridge joints. In the static tests, slippage of the web plates caused considerable stiffness loss and the slippage load varied drastically between CFRP moduli. For the fatigue tests, the intention was to reach two million cycles at the different constant load ranges. Stiffness degradation was noticed during the fatigue process, and was likely due to bolt pre-tension loss and/or plastic deformation of the adhesive. Specimens that reached two million cycles were monotonically loaded to failure. Once the CFRP had failed, a secondary mechanism was observed for reserve load capacity. Simple beam mechanics were used to create prediction models for the initial spliced beam stiffness and peak CFRP load. Flexural and shear deformations of the spliced system were considered for beam stiffness. For the CFRP failure load prediction, a design peak strain in the CFRP was used to account for shear lag effects in the material and variability of the splice detail. While the model was inaccurate for beam stiffness, it provided a good approximate of the peak CFRP load. Based on the presented test data, the Normal Modulus CFRP hybrid splice detail showed better fatigue performance than conventional steel connection details.