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Strengthening Against the Storm: Carbon Fiber Structural Repairs for Hurricane-Related Damage

Reinforcing Resilience: How composites are playing a critical role in structural repairs for storm damaged properties on North Carolina's Outer Banks

Coastal building in the Outer Banks, NC with structural damage related to Hurricane
Ocean Front Condominium with Hurricane Damage

Introduction:

Hurricanes and severe storms can wreak havoc on properties in high-risk coastal areas. This case study focuses on a recently completed project on North Carolina's Outer Banks, where a multi-story residential building was severely damaged by a Category 4 hurricane. The extensive cracks, spalling, and reinforcement corrosion compromised the structure's integrity and safety. However, through the implementation of carbon fiber structural repairs, this project showcases the effectiveness of this innovative solution in restoring and reinforcing hurricane-damaged structures.

CMU Concrete Damage on condo bond beams from hurricane wind forces
Structural Damage to Bond Beams from Hurricane Uplift Forces

The Challenging Situation:

Located in a vulnerable coastal town, the residential building faced significant damage from the powerful hurricane. The project called for urgent repairs to address the compromised structural elements, ensuring the building's long-term stability and resilience against future storms.

Carbon Fiber Structural Strengthening of Bond beam with SRS-660 Bidirectional FRP
Bond Beam Wrapped in SRS-660 Bidirectional Carbon Fiber

The Solution:

Upon being contacted by a local engineering firm, SRS brought together their Structural Engineering and Contracting teams to develop and implement a solution tailored to the specific needs of the damaged structure. The team identified areas where bond beams and other structural elements needed replacement. Additionally, carbon fiber strengthening systems were employed to increase tie-down forces, strengthen weakened elements, and restore capacity in areas affected by damage and deterioration.


Carbon fiber flexural and shear strengthening from hurricane damage
Shear and Flexural Strengthening with SRS-600 UNI FRP

The Carbon Fiber Structural Strengthening Process:

The repair process commenced with thorough preparation of the damaged areas. Loose or deteriorated concrete was removed, surfaces were cleaned, and the substrate was roughened to ensure proper bonding with the carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) materials. Any reinforcement corrosion was treated and repaired.


CFRP fabric impregnated with epoxy resin was then strategically applied to the prepared concrete surfaces and bond beams. The CFRP material provided additional flexural and shear strength to the weakened structural elements, such as bond beams, columns, and walls. Its lightweight and flexible nature allowed for efficient handling, reducing construction time and associated costs.

Foundation strengthening from Hurricane damage
Carbon Fiber Flexural Strengthening on Ocean Front Condo Foundation

Results and Benefits:

The application of carbon fiber structural strengthening yielded significant positive outcomes:


1. Enhanced Structural Integrity: The carbon fiber reinforcement significantly increased the flexural and shear capacity of the hurricane-damaged structure. By restoring the strength and integrity of weakened elements, the building's overall stability and load-carrying capacity were improved.


2. Increased Resilience to Hurricane Forces: The strengthened structure demonstrated enhanced resistance to hurricane forces, including wind loads and storm surge. The CFRP materials distributed applied forces, minimizing the risk of further damage during future hurricane events.

Bond beam strengthening with FRP from hurricane damage
Bond Beam Strengthening for Hurricane Resiliency

3. Quick and Efficient Installation: Carbon fiber strengthening proved to be a faster and more efficient retrofitting technique compared to traditional methods. The ease of handling the lightweight and flexible CFRP materials reduced construction time and associated costs.

paint coating over a reinforced foundation with composites
Structural Foundation Repair with FRP coated for UV Protection

4. Durability and Corrosion Resistance: CFRP materials possess excellent resistance to environmental degradation, including corrosion from saltwater exposure. The non-metallic and non-corrosive nature of carbon fibers ensures long-term durability while minimizing maintenance requirements.

Composite Hurricane Strengthening Case Study
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Conclusion:

This case study exemplifies the effectiveness of carbon fiber structural repairs in rehabilitating hurricane-damaged coastal concrete structures. The successful completion of the project on North Carolina's Outer Banks demonstrates the ability of carbon fiber to enhance resilience, restore structural integrity, and safeguard against future natural disasters. By utilizing carbon fiber composites, installation techniques, and material specifications, the team involved in this project has provided a long-lasting solution that will protect the building for years to come.


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