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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Flexural Strength of Pre-stressed Wood-Plastic Composite Beams

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 12/31/2012
End Date 07/01/2013
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 01/30/2013 04:48PM
Keywords composite beams


  Scott Hamel

Student Researchers
  Sava White


Pre-stressing a beam is the practice of applying a tendon to a beam which effectively increases the beams ability to resist tensile forces by creating stresses opposite to those caused by external loads. Prestressing allows beams, floors, and bridges to span longer distances. Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are an emerging construction material mostly used for semi-structural purposes such as decks, wall panels, and fencing. Wood-plastic composites are made from mostly recycled plastic and wood byproducts,
and are considered to be environmentally-friendly and sustainable, but due to their relatively low strength and stiffness, wood-plastic composites have been slow to emerge in structural applications. The scope of this project will be to determine the mechanical properties of a wood-plastic composite material, generate and optimize a finite-element analysis model of a pre-stressed beam, construct an optimized full-scale pre-stressed WPC beam, and then test its strength and stiffness to determine the
relative increase in flexural strength of the pre-stressed WPC beam. This research project hopes to predict and determine the structural capabilities of pre-stressed wood-plastic composite beams. Prestressed wood-plastic composite beams have the potential to be used in a variety of outdoor structural applications such as footbridges, retaining walls, docks, piers, floor systems, and roofing. Wood-plastic
composites are degradation resistant, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable, which makes them an enticing construction material.

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