Date of Award

5-2005

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Roberto Lopez-Anido

Second Committee Member

Eric Landis

Third Committee Member

Douglas Gardner

Abstract

In recent years, use of wood plastic composites has increased in the building industry. However, because wood plastic composites have poor structural properties their use is limited to non-structural applications. Development of a structural quality reinforced wood plastic composite product could open a new market to the wood plastic composites industry. Reinforced wood plastic composite products could be utilized in a variety of marine and other high corrosive applications. The research presented in this thesis covers three topic areas: the development of a reinforcing process to reinforce wood plastic composite (WPC) with fiber reinforced polymer (FRP), the development of a fracture testing procedure to evaluate the bond strength between the FRP and the WPC of the reinforcing process, and a characterization of the affects of various aspects and parameter settings of the WPC reinforcing process on the FRP-WPC bond strength. 'The aspects and parameter settings of the WPC reinforcing process are investigated using the fracture testing procedure developed. Fracture testing is preferred over the more common and more easily implemented shear testing because shear failure is controlled by material defects and fracture provides an evaluation of material performance relative to defect size. The investigation into the aspects and parameter settings of the WPC reinforcing process reveal that there are many influences to the bond performance between the FRP and WPC. One of the most significant influences is material variability, in particular, variability present in the WPC. Other aspects and parameter setting investigated include infusion method, FRP composite layup, infusion pressure, infusion time, degree of cure, and length affects. All of these show varying levels of influence on the strength of the FRP-WPC bond. A brief shear testing experiment concluded that the fracture toughness evaluation of the aspects and parameters of the WPC reinforcing process is preferred, as it is more sensitive to parameter adjustments than shear testing.

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