Doctoral Dissertations

Keywords and Phrases

Bridge decks; Finite element analysis; Sandwich panels


A fiber-reinforced, polyurethane foam core was developed, tested, and evaluated as a possible replacement for the costly honeycomb core that is currently used to manufacture fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) bridge deck panels. Replacing these panels would reduce both initial production costs and construction times while also enhancing structural performance. Experimental, numerical, and analytical investigations were each conducted. Three different polyurethane foam (PU) configurations were used for the inner core during the study’s first phase. These configurations consisted of a high-density PU foam (Type 1), a gridwork of thin, interconnecting, glass fiber/resin webs that formed a bidirectional gridwork in-filled with a low-density PU foam (Type 2), and a trapezoidal-shaped, low-density PU foam that utilized E-glass web layers (Type 3). Based on the experimental results of this phase, the Type 3 core was recommended to move forward to the second phase of the study, where a larger-scale version of the Type 3, namely “mid-scale panels,” were tested both statically and dynamically. Analytical models and finite element analysis (FEA) were each conducted during a third phase. Analytical models were used to predict critical facesheet wrinkling that had been observed during phase two. A three-dimensional model using ABAQUS was developed to analyze each panel’s behavior. A parametric study considering a wide variety of parameters was also conducted to further evaluate the behavior of the prototype panel. The fourth phase of this research investigated the performance of Type 3 panels under exposure to various environmental conditions to duplicate seasonal effects in Midwestern states. The results gathered from these four phases showed that the proposed Type 3 panel is a cost effective alternative to both honeycomb and reinforced concrete bridge decks. "--Abstract, page iii.


Volz, Jeffery S.
ElGawady, Mohamed

Committee Member(s)

Myers, John
Chandrashekhara, K.
Birman, V. (Victor)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D. in Civil Engineering


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Summer 2015

Journal article titles appearing in thesis/dissertation

  • Evaluation of sandwich panels with various polyurethane foam-cores and ribs
  • Testing and evaluation of polyurethane-based GFRP sandwich bridge deck panels with polyurethane foam core
  • Modeling and analysis of GFRP bridge deck panels filled with polyurethane foam
  • Durability of polyurethane foam infill for GFRP bridge deck panels subjected to various environmental exposure


xvii, 314 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographic references.


© 2015 Hesham R. Tuwair, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Subject Headings

High strength concrete bridges -- Evaluation
Fiber-reinforced concrete
Sandwich construction
Finite element method

Thesis Number

T 10769

Electronic OCLC #