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Journal of Composite Materials


This experimental study investigates the degradation mechanisms of a glass fiber-reinforced plastic material commonly used in civil engineering applications. A substantial reduction in tensile, shear, and compression properties was observed after 100 days of freeze–thaw cycling in saline environment (-20°C to 20°C). Non-destructive inspection techniques were progressively conducted on unexposed (ambient condition) and exposed (conditioned) specimens. The dynamic mechanical analysis showed permanent decrease in storage modulus that was attributed to physical degradation of the polymer and/or fiber–matrix interface. This indicated the formation of internal cracks inside the exposed glass fiber-reinforced plastic laminate. The 3D X-ray tomography identified preferred damage sites related to intralaminar and interlaminar cracks. The ultrasonic C-scan and optical microscopy showed the nature of the damage and fibers fracture. The thermal cycling events degraded the matrix binding the warp and fill fibers, thus impairing the structural integrity of the cross-ply laminate. The result of this work could benefit a multi-scale durability and damage tolerance model to predict the material state of composite structures under typical service environments.

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Sage Publications

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