Feasibility of bolted connectors in hybrid FRP-steel structures

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Due to the low weight and excellent durability of composite materials, Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) decks mounted on steel superstructures are becoming increasingly common in engineering practice. Bolted joints are generally used to facilitate connections between an FRP deck and steel girders in road bridges. The connections are subjected to both high magnitude static forces as well as fatigue loading due to overpassing vehicles. With ever increasing traffic on both road and railway bridges, fatigue performance is of critical concern. Bolted FRP joints have been extensively researched in the past under static loading, but less is known about the fatigue and creep behaviour of such joints. Furthermore, little research exists on non-pultruded FRP profiles connected using bolted connections. Therefore, the objective of this research is to investigate connectors’ feasibility by means of static, fatigue and creep experiments on four different types of bolted joints comprising mechanical connectors and injection techniques. The study focuses on application in vacuum infused GFRP panels with integrated webs made of multi-directional laminates) connected to steel bridge superstructures. In addition, experimental results are used to validate Finite Element Analyses (FEA). Based on the obtained results, the novel injected steel-reinforced resin (iSRR) connector shows promising potential in hybrid steel-FRP bridges where good fatigue endurance of the connection, are required.