- Open Access
Experimental Investigation on the Blast Resistance of Fiber-Reinforced Cementitious Composite Panels Subjected to Contact Explosions
© The Author(s) 2017
- Received: 18 August 2016
- Accepted: 6 November 2016
- Published: 28 February 2017
This study investigates the blast resistance of fiber-reinforced cementitious composite (FRCC) panels, with fiber volume fractions of 2%, subjected to contact explosions using an emulsion explosive. A number of FRCC panels with five different fiber mixtures (i.e., micro polyvinyl alcohol fiber, micro polyethylene fiber, macro hooked-end steel fiber, micro polyvinyl alcohol fiber with macro hooked-end steel fiber, and micro polyethylene fiber with macro hooked-end steel fiber) were fabricated and tested. In addition, the blast resistance of plain panels (i.e., non-fiber-reinforced high strength concrete, and non-fiber-reinforced cementitious composites) were examined for comparison with those of the FRCC panels. The resistance of the panels to spall failure improved with the addition of micro synthetic fibers and/or macro hooked-end steel fibers as compared to those of the plain panels. The fracture energy of the FRCC panels was significantly higher than that of the plain panels, which reduced the local damage experienced by the FRCCs. The cracks on the back side of the micro synthetic fiber-reinforced panel due to contact explosions were greatly controlled compared to the macro hooked-end steel fiber-reinforced panel. However, the blast resistance of the macro hooked-end steel fiber-reinforced panel was improved by hybrid with micro synthetic fibers.
- fiber-reinforced cementitious composites
- macro hooked-end steel fiber
- micro synthetic fiber
- contact explosion
- blast charge
- local damage
- fracture energy
Reinforced concrete (RC) structures, which can be used semi-permanently because of their high strength and high durability, are used for infrastructure and military facilities. RC has comparatively good blast resistant performance compared to other building materials. However, in recent years, terrorist activities and accidental explosions have caused damage to RC structures. These incidents result in the loss of human life and significant damage to properties of national interest (Luccioni et al. 2004; Osteraas 2006; Islam and Yazdani 2008). Blast and impact load caused by explosions and physical conflict must be considered in the design of protective structure systems for improved safety. In the case of local damage of RC panels subject to explosive loads, it is important to suppress the spall of the panel in terms of secondary damage caused by scattering of concrete fragments (McVay 1988). In addition, for high-rise buildings and plant equipment, local damage caused by explosions or mechanical collisions is likely to lead to continuous collapse, causing additional loss of life and property damage. In this scenario, it is especially necessary to enhance the protection ability of the concrete materials under blast loads.
Research on the anti-blast performance of cement-based composite materials, such as concrete, which has been conducted for application to the protective design of military facilities and infrastructure, has primarily examined the dynamic behaviors of RC under blast loads (Wang et al. 2013; Wu et al. 2009; Silva and Lu 2009). In particular, Morishita et al. (2000), Morishita et al. (2004) and Tanaka and Tuji (2003) reported that the space between reinforcing bars and the compressive strength of concrete were not effective indicators for predicting the local damage and breaking point of a concrete slab through contact-blast testing. Moreover, according to the test results performed by Nam et al. (2011), the blast resistance of RC specimen was obviously not influenced by the reinforcement of steel bar. The local damage of RC specimen was exhibited similarly to the results of the non-fiber-reinforced high strength concrete specimen. These results indicate that other methods should be considered to reduce the damage of concrete panels by blast loads.
For decades, previous studies have utilized fiber-reinforced composites at both material and structural levels to improve the blast and impact resistance of cement-based composite materials (Yamaguchi et al. 2011; Silva and Lu 2007; Ohkubo et al. 2008; Ha et al. 2011; Wu et al. 2009; Mosalam and Mosallam 2001; Razaqpur et al. 2007; Xie et al. 2014; Ohtsu et al. 2007; Lan et al. 2005; Soe et al. 2013; Nam et al. 2010; Kim et al. 2015; Li et al. 2016; Coughlin et al. 2010; Yoo et al. 2015; Kim et al. 2015; Yoo and Yoon 2016; Nam et al. 2016). Yamaguchi et al. (2011) reported that polyethylene fiber-reinforced concrete has superior blast resistance under contact explosions as compared with normal RC. Silva and Lu (2007) examined the blast resistance of RC slabs containing fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP). The fiber reinforcing was applied on one or both sides and subjected to a close-in blast test. The explosion resistance of RC slabs was improved by the inclusion of FRP, and the effect of reinforcement on both sides was found to have a larger effect than reinforcement of only one side. Ohkubo et al. (2008) used contact-blast testing to identify the reduction of spall due to applying a reinforcing carbon fiber sheet and an aramid fiber sheet on the back side of a concrete slab. Ha et al. (2011) also used a close-in blast test to evaluate the reduction of fracture of concrete panels due to reinforcement with CFRP and polyuria (PU). To control the destruction and suppressed cracking, it is necessary to review the blast resistance of the fiber-reinforced cementitious composites (FRCCs). Wu et al. (2009) evaluated the explosion resistance of slabs manufactured with both ultra-high performance fiber concrete (UHPFC) and reinforced ultra-high performance fiber concrete (RUHPFC). The blast resistance of the RUHPFC slab was good compared to the other concrete slabs in the close-in blast tests. However, there have been very limited studies on the local damage of FRCC panels with various blended fibers and comparison of their blast resistance to that of conventional concrete.
For blast tests of cementitious composite materials, the failure modes are influenced by the standoff distance from the explosion source. The effect of blast load on the test specimens decreases with atmospheric pressure and the dispersion of explosion pressure increases with the distance from the explosion source. Furthermore, the mass of high explosive (HE) is also serves as a very important parameter in the failure modes of cementitious composite materials. Therefore, the scaled distance with the mass of HE has a significant impact on the failure modes of cementitious composite materials under the explosion test. In the close-in blast test, generally induces global damage of the test specimen, such as flexural failure, cracking, and shear-punching action, based on the standoff distance level. However, local damage (i.e., crater, spall, and breach) also will occur if the combined loads are severe enough (McVay 1988), although that require larger blast charge compared to the contact blast test. In contrast, the failure modes of cementitious composite materials caused by contact-blast tests tend to be local damage. Thus, the current study employs contact explosions because various strengths of blast charge are required; namely, when considering the explosion tests on a laboratory scale, the local damage of the concrete panel caused by the close-in blast test is difficult to perform, whereas the evaluation of local damage is possible with only a small amount of blast charge in contact explosions.
In particular, the spall damage on the back side of a structure is closely related to the fracture energy; thus, the damage of FRCCs under contact explosions must be evaluated to consider the blast resistance according to the development of fracture energy. Additionally, since the strain rates of cementitious composite materials under contact explosions are approximately 1000–0,000 s−1, it is very difficult to evaluate the dynamic properties of cementitious composite materials under contact explosions. Thus, the static fracture energies of cementitious composite materials are considered in order to examine the dynamic fracture energy. The dynamic fracture energy is approximately the same as the static fracture energy (van Doormaal et al. 1994; Lee and Lopez 2014).
Due to FRCC indicates superior energy absorption capacity, very low crack widths, and high ductility, it can be expected a suitable safety performance as protective structures more than conventional concrete under extreme loadings such as high-velocity impacts and explosions. However, very few investigations of the blast resistance of FRCC panels under contact explosions have been conducted. Accordingly, in this study, the local damage of FRCC panels with blended fibers was investigated after exposure to contact explosions, and the relationship between the static fracture energy and failure mode was examined. To clarify the blast resistances of FRCC panels, plain panels, such as non-fiber-reinforced high strength concrete (NHC), and non-fiber-reinforced cementitious composites (NCC) were also tested. In addition, the hybrid effect of micro synthetic fibers and macro hooked-end steel fibers in FRCCs was investigated. Moreover, the experimental results were examined through comparison with existing damage evaluation prediction equations for prediction of the limited thickness on the local damage of panels subjected to contact explosions.
The experiments were designed to evaluate the blast resistance of FRCC panels compared with plain panels. The used materials, the test specimen preparations, and the applied test procedures for the experimental measurements are discussed in this section.
2.1 Materials and Mixture Proportions
Ordinary Portland cement (Type II), density: 3.15 g/cm3, fineness: 3770 cm2/g
Fly-ash (used for NCC and FRCCs)
Class-F type, density: 2.30 g/cm3, fineness: 3228 cm2/g
River sand (used for NHC)
Density: 2.54 g/cm3, absorption ratio: 1.01%
Silica sand (used for NCC and FRCCs)
Density: 2.64 g/cm3, absorption ratio: 0.38%, class-7
Crushed coarse aggregate (used for NHC)
Maximum size: 20 mm, density: 2.65 g/cm3, absorption ratio: 1.39%
Mixture proportions of plain specimen.
Coarse aggregate (kg/m3)
River sand (kg/m3)
Silica sand (kg/m3)
Properties of fibers.
Specific density (g/cm3)
Tensile strength (MPa)
Mixture proportions of FRCC specimen.
Silica sand (kg/m3)
Fibers (V f , %)
2.2 Test Setup and Procedure
2.2.1 Static Mechanical Tests
The mechanical properties were evaluated after ageing for 28 days following curing in an environmental chamber at a temperature of 23 ± 2 °C and a relative humidity of 60 ± 5%.
2.2.2 Contact-Blast Tests
The damage of plain panels under contact explosions was evaluated for failure modes such as crater, spall, and breach. The failure modes of the plain panels were obtained according to amount of blast charge for the contact blast tests using emulsion explosives. Observations of how the amount of blast charge affected the failure mode of plain panels were made, and a suitable amount of blast charge for damage evaluation was determined. From evaluating the damage results of plain panels, the amount of blast charge for contact blast tests of FRCC panels was determined. In this study, emulsion explosives (NewMITE Plus) were used in contact blast tests because they are chemically very safe and easy to cast (Hanhwa Corporation/Explosive 2016). For emulsion explosives, the thermal energy is 4.61 MJ/kg, which is calculated by heat of explosion (1100 kcal/kg) of NewMITE Plus. In addition, the value of the thermal energy of TNT was used 4.29 MJ/kg with reference to the previous work by Morishita et al. (2000, 2004). Thus, the ratio of the thermal energy between TNT and emulsion explosives is 1.07. In later discussions, the mass of the emulsion explosive is converted to equivalent TNT mass by means of this ratio.
3.1 Static Mechanical Properties
Test results of static mechanical properties (standard deviation).
Compressive strength (MPa)a
Elastic modulus (GPa)a
Fracture energy (N·m/m2)a
3.2 Blast Resistance
3.2.1 Appearance of the Damage
3.2.2 Diameter, Depth, and Superficial Damage
Figure 10 shows the ratio of the crater depth to panel thickness (C d /T) for the failure modes of the plain and FRCC panels. The NCC panel experienced breach failure with a C d /T of 0.26 at 50 g of blast charge. For the NHC panels, the spall failure had a C d /T less than 0.4, whereas the breach failure had a C d /T greater than 0.4. In contrast, for the FRCC panels, crater failure occurred in the range of C d /T values for which spall failure was observed in the NHC panel, and spall failure occurred in the range of C d /T values for which breach failure was observed in the NCC panel. Therefore, the blended fibers in the FRCC panels play an important role for blast resistance under contact explosions.
3.2.3 Relationship Between Diameter and Depth of Local Damage
3.2.4 Comparison of Experimental Results with Empirical Equations for Failure Mode
Morishita et al. (2000, 2004) proposed useful equations for estimating the failure mode in normal RC slabs subjected to contact explosions. In the following discussions, the experimental results of local damage are compared to the equations of Morishita et al.
For FRCCs, the fracture energy of PVASCC and PESCC is greater than that of SCC, which shows the influence of hybrid macro and micro fiber on FRCC flexural performance. Additionally, comparing the flexural performance of FRCCs to that of the plain specimens, the fracture energy of FRCCs is significantly larger than that of NHC and NCC. By having increased fracture energy, FRCCs have superior resistance to local damage under contact explosions, which suppresses the propagation of wide radial cracks to the back sides of the panels.
The experimental results revealed that FRCC panels have high resistance to failure under contact explosions as compared with plain panels. Specifically, for contact explosions using 100 g of blast charge, the cracks observed on the SCC panel were more prevalent than for the other FRCC panels, but these cracks were still controlled by hybrid blending with micro synthetic fibers (1 vol.% macro hooked-end steel fibers and 1 vol.% micro synthetic fibers). Therefore, the hybrid blending of fibers plays an important role in the blast resistance of FRCC panels.
The fiber reinforcements of FRCC panels significantly reduce the damage diameter and amount of superficial damage as compared to depth of the local damage. This implies that the influence of fiber reinforcement in FRCCs on the blast resistance is associated with the restraint of the lateral progress of local damage. Based on the relationship between crater and spall, the diameter/depth ratios of local damage in FRCC panels were more closely distributed in crater areas in contrast to those of plain panels. Thus, FRCCs should experience a reduced damage area on the back side of panels even if spall or breach occurs.
Finally, the experimental results presented useful data for comparison to empirical equations for prediction of limited thickness on the local damage subjected to contact explosions. The experimental results for the total depth of local damage in the FRCC panels were significantly lower than those in the plain panels, which implies that the FRCC panels restrain the critical local damage. However, it should be noted that these empirical methods tend to greatly underestimate the blast resistance of FRCC panels due to do not consider the effects of fiber reinforcements.
This work was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) & Future Planning (No. 2015R1A5A1037548).
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