Characterising dynamic performance of fibre reinforced polymer structures for resilience and sustainability

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


Structural application of fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials is one of the key factors leading to technological innovations in aviation, chemical, offshore oil and gas, rail and marine sectors. Motivated by such successes, FRP shapes and systems are increasingly used in the construction sector, such as for bridges and small residential buildings. An obstacle to a wider use of FRP materials in structural engineering is the current lack of comprehensive design rules and design standards.

While the preparation of design guidance for static actions is at an advanced stage in the USA and EU, the design against dynamic loading is underdeveloped, resulting in cautious and conservative structural design solutions. Knowledge on the dynamic properties (natural frequencies, modal damping ratios, modal masses and mode shapes of relevant vibration modes) of FRP structures and their performance under dynamic actions (such as pedestrian excitation, vehicle loading, wind and train buffeting) needs to be advanced if to achieve the full economic, architectural and engineering merits in having FRP components/structures in civil engineering works.

This project will provide a step change to design practice by developing new procedures and recommendations for design against dynamic actions. This will be achieved by: 1) Developing an instrumented bridge structure at the University of Warwick campus that will provide unique insight into both static and dynamic performance over the course of the project, and beyond; 2) Providing novel experimental data on dynamic properties and in-service vibration response of ten full-scale FRP structures; and 3) Critical evaluation of the numerical modelling and current vibration serviceability design approaches. The data collected will be delivered in a systematic form and made available, via an open-access on-line database for rapid and easy dissemination, to academic and industrial beneficiaries, as well as to agencies supporting the preparation of institutional, national and international consensus design guidance.

Outcomes from this project will provide the crucial missing information required for the reliable design of light-weight FRP structures, and pave the way towards this structural material becoming a 'material of choice' for future large-scale bridges and other dynamically loaded structures. This medium to longer-term impact is aligned with national plans for the UK having a sustainable and resilient built environment.

Planned Impact

The research and its deliverables can provide an immediate impact within the commercial private sector working with fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials for new-build applications. To take advantage of the new knowledge gained we will give oral presentations over the project's duration at, say NGCC, IStructE or MBE KTN events. The Warwick team will disseminate the final project results during a free one-day industry-focused workshop. These activities will allow the industry sector to gain new understanding and a competitive advantage in delivering (sustainable) infrastructure using FRP shapes and systems. In addition, the usual dissemination channels of journal and conference papers will be used to inform others to the opportunities they can gain from this novel research.

The Warwick team will create and maintain DynFRP, an on-line open-access database, which will store and distribute the raw field test data, the salient test results and supplementary information in technical reports. To provide the highest impact when used by others, DynFRP will have photographs, technical details of tested structures, and overviews of their modal properties and in-service vibration performances (including information about the corresponding dynamic loading). DynFRP database will not only provide an effective update on the project's progress and outcomes for structural designers and academic researchers, but also allow them to analyse the data in new ways, developing further academic and industry impacts.

There will be an impact for professional bodies overseeing the preparation of design standards and regulations. Throughout the project results will be transferred to code writers working on national and international projects (say, for a FRP structural Eurocode) to develop new and improved guidelines for a consensus design standard. Developing guidance for FRP structures exposed to dynamic actions is essential to achieving the optimum (sustainable and serviceable) solutions. The outcomes from our project will be a timely and essential addition to the on-going work (of CEN TC250) to have a Eurocode for FRP materials. Given that a 2013 report from the Composite Leadership Forum recommends that there should be "Work with appropriate bodies to facilitate the development of industry standards to support the use of composites in construction", this group are to be major beneficiaries from the project.

Industry supporters will benefit either by using the project's results as direct inputs in their future designs (e.g. SKM/Jacobs and Optima Projects Ltd.), or by establishing a knowledge base for the dynamic performance of a FRP system, such as the Startlink House (Larkfleet Homes), or by considering an FRP option on equal terms with other structural materials (e.g. Network Rail and HS2). Furthermore, those UK companies that offer protection of structures against excessive vibrations will find a positive impact to their business from detailed insight into modal properties of FRP structures that is essential to successful vibration control.

Enabling wider use of FRPs in structural engineering via this project will be of direct benefit to the society via contributing to realisation of the Government's policies on reducing carbon intensity, improving efficiency of resource exploitation and improving energy performance within infrastructure works.

There will be a longer term impact because the broader research community can benefit from having access to the new test facilities of the 15m FRP bridge on the campus at Warwick University. This will enable the Warwick team to foster collaborations that prolongs the impact well beyond the date of the project's completion.

Strategies for accelerating the impact are presented in the Pathways to Impact.


10 25 50
Description The team identified specific aspects of dynamic behaviour of FRP structures that will improve future design guidance.
Exploitation Route It is expected that the findings will be embedded in future national/international design codes, once they have been published in recognized journals.
Sectors Construction

Description The findings from this project helped a company to improve confidence in the design of FRP bridges against dynamic actions.
Sector Construction
Impact Types Economic

Description Developing advanced vibration performance assessment for new generation of lightweight pedestrian structures using motion platform and virtual reality environments
Amount € 224,934 (EUR)
Funding ID 898216 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 09/2020 
End 09/2022
Description Collaboration with IUAV, Venice 
Organisation Iuav University of Venice
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Testing and analysing an FRP structure in Prato, Italy
Collaborator Contribution Testing and analysing an FRP structure in Prato, Italy
Impact Conference paper: Wei, X., Boscato, G., Russell, J., Adilardi, A., Russo, S. and Zivanovic, S. (2018) Experimental Characterisation of Dynamic Properties of an All-FRP Truss Bridge. IMAC-XXXVI, Orlando, Florida, 12 - 15 February.
Start Year 2016
Description Collaboration with Jacobs 
Organisation Jacobs Engineering Group
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design of an FRP bridge at Warwick.
Collaborator Contribution Technical support and advice in designing of an FRP bridge at Warwick, and in broader sense, design of FRP structures.
Impact Bridge is to built in 2018.
Start Year 2016
Description Collaboration with Monash University 
Organisation Monash University
Department Faculty of Engineering
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint analysis of walking locomotion on a lively Fibre-Reinforced Polymer structure and discussions for design of both Warwick and Monash experimental facilities
Collaborator Contribution Joint analysis of walking locomotion on a lively Fibre-Reinforced Polymer structure and discussions for design of both Warwick and Monash experimental facilities
Impact Facilities developed.
Start Year 2017
Description Collaboration with Pipex px 
Organisation Pipex Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Dynamic testing of an FRP truss bridge, in the factory and on site. This included measuring structural performance under human and trains passing beneath the bridge excitation.
Collaborator Contribution Providing access to the structure and facilitating the tests.
Impact Conference paper: Russell, J., Wei, X., Zivanovic, S. and Kruger, C. (2017) Dynamic Response of an FRP Footbridge Due to Pedestrians and Train Buffeting. EURODYN 2017, Rome, Italy, 10 - 13 September.
Start Year 2016
Description Collaboration with TU Delft 
Organisation Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Performing dynamic tests of two FRP bridges in Delft.
Collaborator Contribution Performing static tests of two FRP bridges in Delft.
Impact Conference paper: Zivanovic, S., Russell, J., Pavlovic, M., Wei, X. and Mottram, J. T. (2018) Effects of Pedestrian Excitation on Two Short-Span FRP Footbridges in Delft. IMAC-XXXVI, Orlando, Florida, 12 - 15 February.
Start Year 2016
Description FRP Workshop in Warwick 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Of the 26 attendees, half were from industry with other half from universities. Findings from the project were presented in the context of industrial needs, and challenges in vibration design of FRP structures were discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018