Ultra-thin Strain Hardening Cementitious Composite (SHCC) layer in reinforced concrete cover zone for crack width control

Shan He*, Shozab Mustafa, Ze Chang, Minfei Liang, Erik Schlangen, Mladena Luković

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In the current study, experiments and numerical simulations were carried out to investigate the cracking behavior of reinforced concrete beams consisting of a very thin layer (i.e., 1 cm in thickness) of SHCC in the concrete cover, tension zone. A novel type of SHCC/concrete interface that features a weakened chemical adhesion but an enhanced mechanical interlock bonding was developed to facilitate the activation of SHCC. The study involved testing hybrid SHCC/concrete beams that have various types of interfaces. The results were compared to the control reinforced concrete beams that do not have SHCC in the cover. Four-point bending tests were performed with the beams and Digital Image Correlation (DIC) was utilized to track the development of crack pattern and crack width. Results show that hybrid beams possessed similar load bearing capacity but exhibited a significantly improved cracking behavior as compared to the control beam. With a 1-cm-thick layer of SHCC, the maximum crack width of the best performing hybrid beam exceeded 0.3 mm at 53.3 kN load, whereas in the control beam the largest crack exceeded 0.3 mm at 32.5 kN load. The hybrid beam with the proposed new interface formed 10 times more cracks in SHCC than the hybrid beam with a simple smooth interface and had an average crack width less than 0.1 mm throughout the loading. The lattice model has successfully showcased its ability to predict and offer valuable insights into the fracture behavior of hybrid systems. The simulation results indicate that the presence of a weak interface bond, coupled with mechanical interlocking, can effectively facilitate the activation of SHCC, resulting in the formation of more cracks and a delayed progression towards the maximum crack width. As the volume ratio of SHCC used in the hybrid beams is only 6%, the current study highlights the strategic use of minimum amount of SHCC in the critical region to efficiently enhance the performance of hybrid structures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116584
Number of pages17
JournalEngineering Structures
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Crack width control
  • DIC
  • Lattice model
  • SHCC

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