Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (Engineering)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Antonio Nanni

Second Committee Member

Wimal Suaris

Third Committee Member

Francisco J. De Caso y Basalo

Fourth Committee Member

Mohamed W. Fahmy

Fifth Committee Member

John Onyango


The use of glass-fiber-reinforced-polymer (GFRP) composites as internal reinforcement (rebars) for concrete structures has proven to be an alternative to traditional steel reinforcement due to significant advantages such as magnetic transparency and, most importantly, corrosion resistance equating to durability and structural life extension. In recent years, the number of projects specifying GFRP reinforcement has increased dramatically leading the construction industry towards more sustainable practices. Typically, GFRP rebars are similar to their steel counterparts having external deformations or surface enhancements designed to develop bond to concrete, as well as having solid circular cross-sections; but lately, the worldwide composites industry has taken advantage of the pultrusion process developing GFRP rebars with non-traditional cross-sectional shapes destined to optimize their mechanical, physical, and environmental attributes. Recently, circular GFRP rebars with a hollow-core have also become available. They offer advantages such as a larger surface area for improved bond, and the use of the effective cross-sectional area that is engaged to carry load since fibers at the center of a solid cross-section are generally not fully engaged. For a complete understanding of GFRP rebar physical properties, a study on material characterization regarding a quantitative cross-sectional area analysis of different GFRP rebars was undertaken with a sample population of 190 GFRP specimens with rebar denomination ranging from #2 to #6 and with different cross-sectional shapes and surface deformations manufactured by five pultruders from around the world. The water displacement method was applied as a feasible and reliable way to conduct the investigation. In addition to developing a repeatable protocol for measuring cross-sectional area, the objectives of establishing critical statistical information related to the test methodology and recommending improvements to existing provisions and standards allowing for a consistent universal norm for all GFRP rebars were reached. This dissertation also presents an evaluation of the structural behavior of reinforced concrete (RC) beams and slabs using the new type of GFRP rebar consisting of a non-traditional hollow-core shape compared to “traditional” solid round rebars with equivalent cross-sectional areas within the framework of two studies, respectively. To validate the design assumptions following ACI 440.1R design guidelines, two conditions were investigated: under-reinforced (failure controlled by rupture of GFRP rebar); and, over-reinforced (failure controlled by crushing of concrete). For comparison, a cyclic three-point bending load test matrix was developed: for beams, 3 under-reinforced and 3 over-reinforced with hollow-core and solid GFRP rebars, respectively, making a total of 12 RC specimens; for slabs, 3 under-reinforced and 3 over-reinforced with hollow-core and 2 types of solid GFRP rebars, respectively, making a total of 18 RC slabs. The studies on GFRP RC beams and slabs concluded that the hollow-core GFRP rebars were as effective as their solid counterpart and ACI 440.1R design guidelines were applicable to predict their performance. It was shown that final design may be controlled by the permissible deflections as governing parameter for elements under service conditions. Also, a final study with a test matrix containing six extra specimens was generated for post-fire residual strength evaluation of fire-exposed GFRP RC slabs along with temperature gradient in the slabs and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) investigation on GFRP samples extracted from the fire-exposed slabs. In this study, the ability of GFRP RC slabs to retain structural integrity during a standards fire exposure as well as determining the residual structural capacity were investigated. The residual strength evaluation of the fire-exposed slabs showed a range of results varying between ± 10%, of the virgin slabs. And, 19 mm (0.75 in.) cover with normal weight concrete was shown to be adequate to provide the necessary fire protection to the GFRP rebars preventing irreversible damage for two-hour fire rated GFRP RC slabs subjected to service loads; also, from the DMA and glass transition temperature of samples extracted from the GFRP rebars, it is inferred that the resin had undergone a post curing phase.


composites; concrete, glass-fiber-reinforced-polymer; rebar; reinforcement; fire-exposure