Evaluation of Concrete Bridge Decks Comprising Twisted Steel Micro Rebar

Aubrey Lynne Hebdon, Brigham Young University


The objective of this research was to investigate the effects of twisted steel micro rebar (TSMR) fibers on 1) the mechanical properties of concrete used in bridge deck construction and 2) the early cracking behavior of concrete bridge decks. This research involved the evaluation of four newly constructed bridge decks through a series of laboratory and field tests. At each location, one deck was constructed using a conventional concrete mixture without TSMR, and one was constructed using the same conventional concrete mixture with an addition of 40 lb of TSMR per cubic yard of concrete. Regarding laboratory testing, the conventional and TSMR beam specimens exhibited similar average changes in height after 4 months of shrinkage testing. The electrical impedance measurements did not indicate a notable difference between specimens comprising concrete with TSMR and those comprising conventional concrete. Although no notable difference in behavior between conventional and TSMR specimens was apparent before initial cracking, the toughness of the TSMR specimens was substantially greater than that of the conventional concrete specimens. Regarding field testing, sensors installed in the bridge decks indicated that the addition of TSMR does not affect internal concrete temperature, moisture content, or electrical conductivity. The average Schmidt rebound number varied little between the TSMR decks and conventional decks; therefore, the stiffness of the TSMR concrete was very similar to that of conventional concrete. Distress surveys showed that the conventional decks exhibited notably more cracking than the TSMR decks. The TSMR fibers exhibited the ability to limit both crack density and crack width. For all of the decks, chloride concentrations increased every year as a result of the use of deicing salts on the bridge decks during winter. However, the chloride concentrations for samples collected over cracked concrete increased more rapidly than those for samples collected over non-cracked concrete. Although TSMR fibers themselves do not directly affect the rate at which chloride ions penetrated cracked or non-cracked concrete, the fibers do prevent cracking, which, in turn, limits the penetration of chloride ions into the decks. Therefore, the use of TSMR would be expected to decrease the area of a bridge deck affected by cracking and subsequent chloride-induced corrosion damage and thereby increase the service life of the bridge deck.