Despite the overwhelming popularity that Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) reinforcements are currently enjoying amongst researchers and the construction industry, there are still major scientific/technological (S/T) challenges that needs to be addressed and much research is needed to facilitate a wider adoption of these innovative products. Along with these S/T challenges, a bigger barrier to a more efficient and innovative use of composites in construction is the poor communication amongst researchers themselves, as well as between academia and industry. The MC ITN endure nurtured a new generation of scientists and assisted in maintaining a critical mass of researchers to address the main S/T challenges, co-ordinate European research, and offer a link between academia and industry. endure contributed to the work of COST Action TU1207 on Next Generation Design Guidelines for Composites in Construction and worked in parallel with Task Group 5.1 of the International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib) and CEN TC 250 on the preparation of the first draft guidelines to incorporate the use of FRP as strengthening and reinforcing solution for concrete structures in the future revisions of Eurocodes.
The main aim of endure was to train researchers in the underlying principles so as to address the major S/T challenges and practical problems in the use of composite materials as internal reinforcement for new constructions and external strengthening solution for existing structures and infrastructure. This was achieved through a combination of research training and industry guidance.
endure trained a total of 19 researchers (14 ESRs and five ER) in the use of composites for the reinforcement and strengthening of concrete structures. The main research areas included: characterization of strengthening materials; bond and anchorage of FRP in/to concrete; shear behaviour of new structures and use of innovative techniques for shear strengthening (e.g. near surface mounted FRP, Textile Reinforced Mortars (TRM) and deep embedded FRP); performance of composites at elevated temperatures; strengthening of walls; fatigue and long term behaviour; torsional strengthening; development of novel, pre-fabricated FRP RC panels; development of innovative structural tapes for rapid repair. The work of endure led to the development of more reliable analytical and numerical models in all examined areas and assisted in developing new and improved design recommendations. The progress of the network was discussed at four plenary meetings, as well as at meetings of COST Action TU1207, fib T5.1 and during a special session at the International Conference on Advanced Composites in Construction (ACIC2017). endure partners are also members of Technical Committee 250 of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN/TC250) currently working on the new revisions of EN-1992.
The fruitful collaboration with Action TU1207 (www.tu1207.eu), fib TG5.1 (http://www.fibt51.ugent.be) and and RILEM TC250 led to the co-organisation of three industry Seminars (Kaiserslautern, Germany 2014; Dübendorf, Switzerland 2015; Lodz, Poland 2016), two workshops on Life Cycle Analysis and Whole Life Costing (Kaiserslautern, Germany 2014) and Textile Reinforced Mortars (TRM) (Lodz, Poland 2016), and four Poster Competitions for Early Stage Researchers. A final conference was organised in conjunction with the final Network meeting, including a special session for endure fellows. All endure members also actively contributed to the coordination and preparation of a state-of-the-art on FRP in construction, which was made available in an open access form and can be accessed directly on figshare. The work of the network has also been actively disseminated by the individual partners and fellows at national and international exhibitions, PhD symposia and meetings of learned societies.
The strict collaboration between endure, COST Action TU1207, fib T5.1 and RILEM TC250 has enabled endure partners and fellows to contribute actively to the activities of these committees. endure has collaborated with fib T5.1 on the preparation of new bulletins, including one on strengthening applications (to be published in 2018), one on the use of FRP as internal reinforcement, and a series of extensive design examples. endure partners are also members of Technical Committee 250 of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN/TC250) currently working on the new revisions of EN-1992. endure assisted with strengthening the links between academia and industry by organising three successful Industry Seminars in Germany, Switzerland and Poland in collaboration with local and international learned groups and technical bodies (overall counting more than 200 attendees, including designers, FRP manufacturers and distributors, government representatives). These seminars also enabled the fellows to showcase their work through technical presentations and dedicated poster competitions. Three editions of the international training school on ‘Reinforcing and strengthening of structures with FRP reinforcement’ took place at Ghent University (Belgium) in January 2015, 2016 and 2017 and attracted more than 100 participants from 25 different countries, including both researchers and practicing engineers. A comprehensive set of teaching and learning materials was developed and updated in collaboration with COST TU1207 and fib TG5.1 over the final period and covers fundamental concepts, advanced topics and scientific challenges, practical issues and design examples.
The work carried out as part of this collaborative project enabled the development of advanced behavioural models for the assessment and prediction of the structural performance of FRP reinforced or strengthened structures subjected to a combination of mechanical and environmental actions. In addition to advancing the state-of-the-art on several scientific challenges, much of the work specifically focused on the development of novel and more efficient strengthening systems (e.g. textile reinforced mortars, deep embedded FRP, structural tapes for rapid repair), long-term behaviour (fatigue and durability) and accidental actions (fire and elevated temperatures). The know-how developed by the Network will strengthen the European Research Area on composite reinforcement and will contribute to increase the competitiveness of the European construction industry worldwide. The development of a new generation of design guidelines based on European Standards will facilitate the adoption of composite materials in construction not only in Europe but worldwide.