Evaluation of the Performance of GFRP Dowels in Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement (JPCP) for Road/Airport under the Combined Effect of Dowel Misalignment and Cyclic Wheel Load

  • Basim Al-Humeidawi

Student thesis: Phd


Dowel bars are provided at the transverse joints of the Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement (JPCP) to transfer the load between adjoining slabs and to allow for expansion and contraction of the pavement due to temperature and moisture changes. The current study involved evaluation of the performance of Glass Fibre Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) dowels in JPCP as an alternative to the conventional epoxy-coated steel dowel bars, especially in the presence of dowel misalignment. This research involved two main sets of experimental tests. The first set focused on the evaluation of load-deflection response of GFRP dowels using a scaled model of pavement slabs. The second set investigated the combined effect of dowel misalignment and cyclic wheel load on the performance of steel and GFRP dowels. The tested slabs (in the second set) were supported on a steel-beam base with stiffness such that the effects of the underlying layers of real pavements are incorporated. In both of these sets of experiment the GFRP dowels were compared with the steel dowels of similar flexural rigidity. The research also involved detailed numerical investigations using ABAQUS for all experimental tests in the current study. The validated numerical model was used to conduct three sets of parametric studies: to propose design considerations for the GFRP dowels; to simulate all important cases of dowel misalignment (111 cases) for steel and GFRP dowels and to give an insight into the damaged volume in the surrounding concrete pavement; and to investigate the effects of diameter, length and type of dowel bar, concrete grade, pavement thickness, and slab-base friction on the joint-opening behaviour. The results from the first set of experiments showed that the 38 mm GFRP dowels perform better in terms of deflection response compared to the 25 mm steel dowels. Also, it was observed that the relative deflection (RD) is more sensitive to the changes in the joint width rather than the concrete strength. The numerical results from the first set showed a good agreement with the experimental results and showed lower magnitude and better distribution of stress in the concrete underneath the GFRP dowels as compared with the steel dowels. Finally, on the basis of a detailed parametric study (70 different cases), design considerations for GFRP dowels in JPCP were suggested.The second set of experimental results showed that the GFRP dowels can withstand a cyclic traffic load and significantly reduce joint lockup and dowel looseness (DL) and can provide sufficient load transfer efficiency (LTE). It was also observed that the dowel misalignment affects DL significantly more than the repeated traffic load. Slab-base separation and the orientation of misaligned dowels have significant effects on the pull-out load required to open the joint. The numerical results from the second set indicated that the pull-out load was small for the vertical misalignment cases compared to the horizontal and combined misalignment cases. The results also indicated the occurrence of concrete spalling and deterioration at smaller joint openings for combined misalignment when compared to other misalignment types. The use of GFRP dowels significantly reduced the pull-out load and joint lockup when dowel misalignment exists. Consequently, the deterioration of the surrounding pavement substantially decreased. The long term performance of the JPCP fitted with GFRP dowels improves because of a reduction in the DL and the RD, and by maintaining a good LTE even for misaligned dowels. The numerical results also showed that the pull-out load increases significantly for an increase in the concrete compressive strength and the dowel bar diameter. Small increase in pull-out load was observed for higher embedded length of the dowel bar, whereas the increase was insignificant for an increase in the pavement thickness and slab-base friction.In general, the study showed the GFRP dowel can be a potential alternative for the c
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorParthasarathi Mandal (Supervisor)


  • Concrete pavement, Dowel bars, Misalignment, GFRP dowels, Dowel looseness, Finite element, Experimental test

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