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.
UTSA invites you to participate in our community altar by RSVP to this event. You can also use this link to learn more about Día de Los Muertos:https://anendlessconnection.weebly.com/the-project.html.Student Union Window Lounge, Main Campus
October 28th celebrates National Immigrants Day. On this day, we gather to explore the diverse heritage of our nation’s social fabric. We dedicate this day to understanding how our nation was founded and built by immigrants. Our goal is for the UTSA family to recognize and celebrate how all immigrants, regardless of their citizenship status, contribute to our community through their resiliency and ingenuity.Multicultural Student Lounge, HSU 2.207, Main Campus
The COLFA Advanced Career Pathways Workshops are focused on connecting your education with your career aspirations and exploring your pathways to reach your goal.Mesquite Room, Student Union, 2.01.24, Main Campus
The Westside Community Center will be creating an altar or "ofrenda" as many do within San Antonio and the Westside for "Dia de los Muertos." If you would like to participate, we invite you to send in a photo of a loved one that will be placed in this space. You are welcome to join us on October 28th at 3:00 pm to set up the space and come see us at the Westside Community Center.UTSA Westside Community Center, 1310 Guadalupe St., San Antonio, TX 78207
Blueprints For Pangaea is hosting its first on-campus inventory event of the semester! Join us for a Halloween-themed afternoon where we'll inventory medical supplies while enjoying Halloween movies. By the end of the event, you will have positively impacted the health of hundreds of individuals. We require at least one hour of attendance and come dressed up because the best costumes will earn awards.Flawn Sciences Building, 3.02.02, Main Campus
Chris Villanueva and other jazz faculty will perform standards in this concert. More details to come. The Fall 2021 concert schedule is subject to change. Please continue to monitor our website and social media for updates. This concert will be live-streamed via the UTSA Music Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/UTSAMusic When:UTSA Recital Hall, Main Campus
UTSA Sustainability will have three courses of varying difficulty to accommodate different ages and abilities. There will a one mile walk on generally level surface to introduce you to the student run community garden, a longer walk with stairs and topo changes, and a five mile bike ride to introduce you to the Leon Greenway.Tito Bradshaw Bicycle Repair Shop Ximenes Ave, Main Campus
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