Cost-Effective Strategies for Retrofitting Culverts with Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer

Culverts are water conveyance structures, typically used to allow water flow and maintain a balance between the flow streams without interrupting structures such as highways and bridges. Corrugated metal pipes (CMPs) have been used as culverts in North America since the 1950s because of their low cost and simple construction method. Today, the corrosion of CMPs is a major problem faced by all U.S. Departments of Transportation. There is an urgent need to provide an efficient solution, one that is corrosion-resistant, to retrofit thousands of corroded CMPs across the country. High specific strength, high strength to weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and a significant reduction in the cost of material and fabrication, over the past two decades, have made fiber-reinforced polymers an engineer’s choice material for conditions where corrosion is a problem. This research project will investigate cost-effective design and construction solutions for retrofitting metal culvert structures to make them more resilient over time. The project will investigate the use of glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) composite materials as a potentially cost-effective and easy solution for culvert repair and retrofit. This project will field test a GFRP pipe insert for sliplining an existing metal culvert. The proposed research will include the design, installation, and testing of the insert through the placement of instrumentation sensors (strain gauges and displacement sensors) to determine structural integrity and materials response to traffic loads as well as development of a new specification and standard drawings for sliplining of metal culverts at the New Mexico Department of Transportation. This is the second phase of research projects on GFRP inserts. In the first phase, filament wound GFRP pipe profile was used as a slip-on liner inside a CMP, and the gap between CMP and GFRP is filled with a polymer-based grout. A full-scale experimental investigation of the load capacity of a CMP retrofitted using a GFRP profile liner was conducted and showed that the proposed retrofit technique, using GFRP, develops full composite action with CMP and works as one composite section with improved capacity and superior ductility. Subsequently, a laboratory corrosion cell was developed to corrode a CMP to reciprocate the field condition of a corroded culvert. Then, the corroded CMP was retrofitted using GFRP slip liner, and a full-scale test was conducted to understand the behavior post corrosion, and the technology post corrosion also achieved a complete composite action until the peak load. A finite element (FE) model is developed to provide inference on the mechanics of the GFRP-CMP retrofitted pipe section. Experimental observations verified the FE model. A Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) model was developed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed retrofitting technique and compare it with other existing technologies.