Modeling and Experimental Testing of a Smart Composite Bridge


An all composite bridge with integral sensor network has been designed and built at the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR). An extensive experimental study and finite element analysis were carried out to obtain and compare properties (stiffness, strength, failure modes) of 76 mm (3 in) square hollow pultruded Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) tubes and their assemblies. Tube assemblies were used in the fabrication of bridge deck designed for H-20 truckloads as specified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The bridge is 9.14 m (30 ft) long and is 2.74 m (9 ft) wide. All the coupons were tested under three- or four-point bending. Experimental results show excellent linear elastic behavior up to failure and are in good agreement with finite element solutions. A quarter portion of the full-sized bridge deck was then tested for its structural performance under design and fatigue loading and also for ultimate load capacity to evaluate the bridge response. The characteristics of the full-size bridge deck were determined by analyzing the performed tests. The test sample showed almost no reduction in stiffness or strength after 2 million cycles of fatigue loading in excess of the design load. The bridge was installed at the UMR campus in July 2000. The bridge is equipped with fiber optic sensors, and the response of the bridge will be remotely monitored.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Second Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Composites; Modelling; Fiber Reinforced Polymers; Finite Element Methods; Fabrication; Fiber Optics Sensors; Sensor Networks

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2003 SPIE -- The International Society for Optical Engineering, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2003