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The surface degradation of glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) pultruded rods when embedded in concrete castings and subjected to environmental conditioning is discussed in this paper. Investigation of the degradation of the GFRP rods was performed using optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Unidirectionally reinforced pultruded rods (6.3- and 12.7-mm diameters) containing E-glass fibers in polyester and vinylester matrices were conditioned at standard laboratory conditions (21°C, 65% relative humidity) or submerged in aqueous solutions (tap water) at 80°C for durations of 14 and 84 days. Observations of the surfaces and cross-sections of the rods by optical microscopy and SEM revealed a variety of degradation phenomena. Embedded hygrothermally conditioned rods were found to have developed surface blisters of different sizes and depths. SEM studies of the surface revealed degradation of the polymer matrix material and exposure and degradation of the fibers close to the surface of the rods. The rods with the vinylester resin matrix showed less extensive degradation than those with the polyester resin matrix; however, the degradation characteristics of the two types of rods appear to be similar.
glass fibers, polyester matrix, vinylester matrix, environmental degradation, accelerated tests, concrete environment
Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Senior research associate, National Building Research Institute, Technion, Haifa,