MARCH 30, 2021 — The next time you drive over a repaired bridge, you may want to thank a UTSA professor for keeping it safe with fewer traffic delays. Wassim Ghannoum, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, spent the last 10 years perfecting a method to strengthen and repair deficient bridges and other concrete structures using carbon fiber reinforced polymers—or CFRP.
Ghannoum documented his findings in a research paper submitted for peer review to the American Concrete Institute (ACI). His dedication to this research stood out among many other papers for a prestigious industry honor. Ghannoum was selected to receive ACI’s Wason Medal for Most Meritorious Paper, bestowed specifically for the “characterization of shear strengthening behavior of CFRP anchors and anchored strips” as co-author of the paper.
Ghannoum will receive the Wason Medal on March 31 at ACI’s Spring 2021 Concrete Convention, taking place virtually this year. His research and paper was funded by the Texas Department of Transportation.
“I’m recognized for uncovering the complex interactions between the carbon fiber and the concrete and steel materials as they work together,” Ghannoum said. “My sponsor, TxDOT, is aware of the award and is very happy to see our research be recognized at this level. It puts TxDOT and UTSA on the map for producing the highest quality of research.”
Structural engineers have been using carbon fiber sheets in bridge repair for many years but with mixed results. Ghannoum says the biggest weakness with this process is the bond between the carbon and the concrete. When concrete is overstressed it crumbles and peels off the carbon fiber sheet with it.
TxDOT funded Ghannoum’s research to find a way to take CFRP repair to the next level. Instead of using sheets by themselves to cover cracks and fractures, Ghannoum developed a unique approach by taking the carbon fiber and cutting it into strips called, anchors. These anchors made from strips of carbon fiber are folded over, coated with a special epoxy and inserted into holes about six inches deep drilled in a pattern around the damaged or weak area on a bridge. There’s a portion of the anchor that extends past the drilled hole. That portion is fanned out against the concrete and then covered with a specialized sheet of epoxied carbon fiber. This process has been working incredibly well with no known failures on bridges where applied.
“Carbon fiber is wonderful because if you anchor it properly, the way we demonstrate, you can increase the strength of bridges up to 50%,” Ghannoum said. “A 50% increase of a massive bridge section, by applying something as thin as wall paper, is not a small thing.”
Ghannoum added that carbon fiber is ideal for this application because of its phenomenal strength-to-weight ratio. Another benefit of carbon fiber reinforced polymers are their ability to move with the underlying bridge when put under a strenuous load. Engineers call this deformation compatibility. A material that is too flexible would not pick up enough of the load under traffic, while a material that is too stiff would pick up too much of the load and break under pressure. Thus, carbon fiber has the right stiffness and strength to work superbly in this application.
Ghannoum’s discovery not only makes bridges stronger and safer, but also generates huge cost savings with everything from materials to labor and commerce. Because of its widespread use in manufacturing anything from musical instruments to high-performing vehicles, it’s readily available in large, high-quality quantities.
It’s also a time-saver. Bridge repair traditionally involves closing the structure and rerouting traffic. Workers arrive to remove the damaged portion before building forms to tie in rebar and pour concrete. It can take about 10 days for concrete to cure and gain strength. At this point, the bridge is tested under load before reopening. During this time, traffic is rerouted causing travel delays and disruption for homes and businesses along the detoured path. In comparison, Ghannoum’s process takes a fraction of the time with better results.
“From a user’s perspective, you don’t close traffic because you can apply the carbon fiber anchor system in such a fast time,” Ghannoum said. “Instead of days, you can repair the bridge with a half day of work, so it’s a game-changer in that regard.”
Despite its many advantages, the carbon fiber anchor system is still gaining understanding and acceptance throughout the engineering and construction industry. Ghannoum is frequently invited to speak at conferences to share his findings that promise to forever change the way bridges are repaired in the United States and the world.
Led by UTSA Campus Recreation, these in-person group exercise sessions provide survivors a safe space to focus on their bodies' power to foster a sense of agency. Bring your mask and yoga mat and experience a soothing sound bath at sunrise. Students must register online before attending these sessions.Recreation and Wellness Center, Main Campus
Communication between parents and youth can be difficult and the stress of COVID-19 and virtual learning may have made things worse. This is an opportunity for parents and youth, ages 9-17, to learn and share how to enchance communication.Virtual Event
The virtial event will feature undergraduate student research and creative endeavors from across the university. Students who have participated in research experiences beginning summer 2020 through Spring 2021 are invited to participate.Virtual Event
By participating in this training you will feel more prepared to recognize potential harm on a spectrum, decide how you would respond in certain situations and take action to keep our Roadrunner Community safe.Virtual Event
At UTSA, there are many ways to connect with others, gain relevant career experience, and leave your mark at a world-ranked university. With over 300 student organizations, there’s something for everyone at UTSA. Hear from various UTSA Students Leaders about their life as a Roadrunner and why UTSA is their new home.Virtual Event
This course is offered by UTSA's Employee Assistance Program EAP Deer Oaks. Every new beginning comes from something else ending, and in our ever changing world, it is essential to develop the ability topositively cope with change. This session provides participants with the insight to understand the nature of change and learn how to effectively deal with both the losses and the gains that change brings to one’s life.Virtual Event
On April 28, 2021, millions of people across the world will wear jeans with a purpose, support survivors, and educate themselves and others about all forms of sexual violence. To support this movement our donation drive will be items that we will be putting together to make Care Kits. These Care Kits are for students, faculty and staff to get in case of an emergency and they need to leave the situation they're in ASAP and do not have time to pack.Ximenas Ave Garage
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