Steel Fibre Reinforced Concrete (SFRC) is defined as concrete containing randomly oriented discrete steel fibres. The main incentive of adding steel fibres to concrete is to control crack propagation and crack widening after the concrete matrix has cracked. Control of cracking automatically improves the mechanical properties of the composite material (SFRC). The most significant property of SFRC is its post-cracking strength that can impart the ability to absorb large amounts of energy before collapse. Ground slabs are structural applications that could benefit from these advantageous features of the SFRC. Many tests on SFRC ground slabs show that the material can offer distinct advantages compared to plain concrete. In concrete road pavements, SFRC is particularly suitable for increasing load-carrying capacity and fatigue resistance. Not surprisingly, recent years have witnessed acceleration in full-scale tests of SFRC and eventually acceptance of its use in concrete pavements. The use of SFRC in pavements has been slowed down by the absence of a reliable theoretical model to analyse and design these pavements. The analysis of ground slabs has traditionally been based on an elastic analysis assuming un-cracked concrete. Using such a method for SFRC would ignore the post-cracking contribution the SFRC can make to the flexural behaviour of the slab. Despite the growing trend of using methods of analysis based on yield-line theory, which can consider the post-cracking strength of SFRC, these methods were also found to underestimate the load-carrying capacity of SFRC ground slabs. To effectively account for the post-cracking strength of SFRC in the analysis of such slabs requires a method such as the finite element method. In the present work, non-linear methods are used to model the behaviour of SFRC ground slabs subjected to mechanical load. An analytical method is used to determine a tensile stress-strain response for SFRC. In this method, the post-cracking strength of SFRC is taken into account and hence the material model is sensitive to the element size used. The calculated stress-strain response is utilised in finite element analysis of SFRC beams and ground slabs. A smeared crack approach is used to simulate the behaviour of concrete cracking. The analytical method used to determine the tensile stress-strain response, as well as the finite element model, are evaluated using results from experiments on SFRC beams and ground slabs. The analytical results are found to compare well with the observations. The non-linear methods are further used to study the effect of the material model parameters as well as the support stiffness on load-displacement behaviour of SFRC ground slabs. The developed finite element model is shown to be more efficient compared to methods based on the yield-line theory. This is because it produces the load-displacement behaviour of the SFRC ground slab up to a reasonable limit and it provides the tensile stresses as well as the extent of cracking of the slab at every point on the load-displacement response. Using the developed finite element model will allow for considerable material saving since smaller slab thickness can be calculated compared to analytical models currently in use.
Thesis (PhD(Transportation Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2008.