Development and structural investigation of monocoque fibre composite trusses

Humphreys, Matthew (2003) Development and structural investigation of monocoque fibre composite trusses. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Fibre composite materials are gaining recognition in civil engineering applications as a viable alternative to traditional materials. Their migration from customary automotive, marine, aerospace and military industries into civil engineering has continued to gain momentum over the last three decades as new civil engineering applications develop. The use of fibre composite materials in civil engineering has now evolved from non-structural applications, such as handrails and cladding, into primary structural applications such as building frames, bridge decks and concrete reinforcement. However, there are issues which are slowing the use of fibre composite materials into civil engineering. Issues include high costs, difficulties in realising potential benefits, general lack of civil engineers' familiarity with the material and relatively little standardisation in the composites industry. For composites to truly offer a viable alternative to traditional construction materials in the civil engineering marketplace, it is essential that these issues be addressed. It is proposed that this situation could be improved by demonstrating that potential benefits offered by composites can be achieved with familiar civil engineering forms. These forms must be well suited to fibre composite materials and be able to produce safe and predictable civil engineering structures with existing structural engineering methods. Of the numerous structural forms currently being investigated for civil engineering applications, the truss form appears particularly well suited to fibre composites. The truss is a familiar structural engineering form which possesses certain characteristics that make it well suited to fibre composite materials. In this research a novel monocoque fibre composite truss concept was developed into a working structure and investigated using analytical and experimental methods. To the best of the author's knowledge the research presented in this thesis represents the first doctoral research into a structure of this type. This thesis therefore presents the details of the development of the monocoque fibre composite (MFC) truss concept into a working structure. The developed MFC truss was used as the basis for a detailed investigation of the structural behaviour of the MFC truss elements and the truss as a whole. The static structural behaviour of the principal MFC truss elements (tension members, compression members and joints) was investigated experimentally and analytically. Physical testing required the design and fabrication of a number of novel test rigs. Well established engineering principles were used along with complex finite element models to predict the behaviour of the tested truss elements and trusses. Results of the theoretical analysis were compared with experimental results to determine how accurately their static structural behaviour could be predicted. It was found that the static structural behaviour of all three principal truss elements could be accurately predicted with existing engineering methods and finite element analysis. The knowledge gained from the investigation of the principal truss elements was then used in an investigation of the structural behaviour of the MFC truss. Three full-scale MFC trusses were fabricated in the form of conventional Pratt, Howe and Warren trusses and tested to destruction. The investigation included detailed finite element modelling of the full-scale trusses and the results were compared to the full-scale test results. Results of the investigation demonstrated that the familiar Pratt, Howe and Warren truss forms could be successfully manufactured with locally available fibre composite materials and existing manufacturing technology. The static structural behaviour of these fibre composite truss forms was accurately predicted with well established engineering principles and finite element analysis. A successful marriage between fibre composite materials and a civil engineering structure has been achieved. Monocoque fibre composite trusses have been developed in the familiar Pratt, Howe and Warren truss forms. These structures possess characteristics that make them well suited to applications as primary load bearing structures.

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ID Code: 15898
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Mahendran, Mahadeva & Sidwell, Anthony
Keywords: civil engineering, construction, structural engineering, finite element analysis, fibre composites, truss structures, Pratt truss, Howe truss, Warren truss, glass fibre, carbon fibre, epoxy resin, particulate filled resin, fibre composites in civil engineering
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Matthew Humphreys
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:52
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:40

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