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Domenico Brigante, Technical Director of Olympus

The importance of composites in construction is enormous. Carbon fiber and other composite materials are highly performing. Domenico Brigante of Olympus srl, tell us about his experience with composites.

Domenico Brigante, Technical Director of Olympus
READING TIME

12 minutes, 20 secondes

It is well known that the building and construction industry is very traditional, until very recently the construction industry has had a not very “friendly” attitude towards composites.

We must consider as well that, compared to traditional materials like wood, iron, steel, aluminum, composites are still a kind of “new entry” for the building&construction industry, but step by step are being better understood by engineers and industry players as composites light weight and outstanding properties make them undeniably attractive. Happily there are specialists who, thanks to specific technological preparation and foresight, have been able to spread the use of these materials in the industry for structural and consolidation uses that are increasingly numerous and appreciated.

Olympus STONE CRM - Structural reinforcement of masonry by FRCM and CRM systems The Italian historical and artistic heritage is represented by a large number of masonry structures, both for private buildings and for structures of monumental interest. Numerous structures require structural consolidation interventions and the many seismic events have caused damage to the buildings, making recovery interventions necessary. The STONE system, through the use of preformed GFRP fiberglass meshes, allows for an increase in the mechanical characteristics of the masonry elements. These consolidation systems, obtained with the installation of fiberglass networks, allow to repair the structural deficits affecting the vertical structures, limiting the invasiveness of the intervention and allowing a long life.
Olympus STONE CRM – Structural reinforcement of masonry by FRCM and CRM systems:
The Italian historical and artistic heritage is represented by a large number of masonry structures, both for private buildings and for structures of monumental interest. Numerous structures require structural consolidation interventions and the many seismic events have caused damage to the buildings, making recovery interventions necessary. The STONE system, through the use of preformed GFRP fiberglass meshes, allows for an increase in the mechanical characteristics of the masonry elements. These consolidation systems, obtained with the installation of fiberglass networks, allow to repair the structural deficits affecting the vertical structures, limiting the invasiveness of the intervention and allowing a long life.

Domenico Brigante received his Ph.D in structural engineering from the Federico II University of Naples, he is currently the Technical Director of Olympus, a company he co-founded in 2005, making use of his university research carried out on innovative composite materials as part of his doctorate research. The know-how transferred and engineered in Olympus, over the years, has made it possible to develop and certify consolidation systems that are always innovative and in step with the latest technological innovations.

Dr.Brigante is adjunct professor in “Innovative Materials” at the Mercatorum Telematic University and president of the Composites Center in Construction.

Over the years, he has held important professional positions in the composite materials sector including: structural consultancy at the MIBACT Special Superintendence for Earthquake in Central Italy.

Olympus has been offering the best FRP, FRCM and CRM composite materials for structural consolidation for over 15 years, proposing a wide range of carbon fiber fabrics and sheets as well as fiberglass, basalt and steel fiber meshes.

The consolidation systems of Olympus have been used for the recovery of buildings in seismic areas, to consolidate the buildings affected by the latest seismic phenomena in Italy and for the reinforcement of some of the most important structures in Europe such as the City of Arts and Sciences designed by Mr. Calatrava in Valencia, Spain. Thanks to the fruitful collaborations with universities and research institutes, which have determined the development of numerous patents and publications, the company is now a leader in the sector both home and internationally and is was among the first Italian companies or obtain CIT / CVT certification from CSLLPP.

With an important teamwork of the OlympusTeam technicians in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ecuador, Lebanon and Malta the company has been able to create a consolidated group of skills in the area of ​​structural consolidation.

Structural consolidation and seismic adaptation with CVT certified carbon FRP systems Many structures require structural reinforcement interventions, the structures must be guaranteed adequate performance in accordance with current regulations and the numerous seismic phenomena. the use of composite materials consisting of high mechanical strength fibers and polymeric resins, represent the best technology to consolidate building structures. FRP materials, in fact, thanks to the high mechanical resistance and the reduced impact on the structures in terms of weight, stiffness and geometry, represent an effective solution for the consolidation of reinforced concrete, masonry, wood and steel structures. moreover, it guarantees a high durability over time of these systems, eliminating the typical criticalities of traditional interventions.
Structural consolidation and seismic adaptation with CVT certified carbon FRP systems:
Many structures require structural reinforcement interventions, the structures must be guaranteed adequate performance in accordance with current regulations and the numerous seismic phenomena. the use of composite materials consisting of high mechanical strength fibers and polymeric resins, represent the best technology to consolidate building structures. FRP materials, in fact, thanks to the high mechanical resistance and the reduced impact on the structures in terms of weight, stiffness and geometry, represent an effective solution for the consolidation of reinforced concrete, masonry, wood and steel structures. moreover, it guarantees a high durability over time of these systems, eliminating the typical criticalities of traditional interventions.

Olympus provides certified products for structural consolidation, offering its customers an integrated system of 360 ° technical assistance, designed to guarantee the entire application and testing process of the structural reinforcement systems it distributes offering the integrated Olympus Care assistance service, accompanying companies and professionals involved in the installation process of the systems offered, from the verification of the design to the installation of the products, up to testing. Among the most interesting  CFRP applications is the roof consolidation the Hotel Esedra in Rome (the original building was  completed in 1705), completed at the end of 2007, realized using carbon ropes, carbon sheets and FRP uniaxial bars.

Domenico is the author of six technical books, five published with the Grafill publishing house and one in English published by the Springer publishing house.

We asked him to help us understand the state of the art and future developments of CRFP use in the building&construction industry.

JEC Composites Magazine: Why composite materials and why can they be very useful in construction?
Domenico Brigante, Technical Director of Olympus: “Composite materials represent today the main choice of technicians involved in redevelopment projects of the Italian building heritage. The wide choice of composite systems belonging to the FRP, FRCM and CRM families, with carbon fibers, glass, aramid and many others, provide technicians with a wide range of solutions that can be adapted to all major structural consolidation interventions. Recently, in addition to the traditional glass and carbon fibers used for the structural consolidation of reinforced concrete buildings and masonry, the use of AFRP aramid fiber composites has grown more and more thanks to the high physical-mechanical characteristics of this fiber. The aramid fiber, in fact, is the only fiber characterized by its own resistance to cutting and shearing which makes it indispensable in numerous reinforcement applications as well as being characterized by a high resistance to high temperatures.

There are numerous structural consolidation interventions carried out with these innovative consolidation materials both in Italy and in Central America.”

Structural reinforcement of beams and pillars with FRP carbon fibers Consolidation of a railway overpass with FRP carbon fiber. In order to improve the mechanical characteristics of the reinforced concrete structure of a railway overpass near Milan, structural reinforcement interventions were carried out on beams, pillars and joints  in reinforced concrete using carbon fiber fabrics from the Olimpus FRP line. In particular, the reinforcement of beams and pillars was achieved through the use of uniaxial fabrics in carbon fiber of 600 g / m2 OLY TEX CARBO 600 UNI AX HR while the reinforcement of the nodes was achieved through the application of quadriaxial fabrics in carbon fiber OLY TEX CARBO 38 QUADRI AX HR. The systems applied are both CVT certified at the CSLLPP STC.
Structural reinforcement of beams and pillars with FRP carbon fibers Consolidation of a railway overpass with FRP carbon fiber:
In order to improve the mechanical characteristics of the reinforced concrete structure of a railway overpass near Milan, structural reinforcement interventions were carried out on beams, pillars and joints in reinforced concrete using carbon fiber fabrics from the Olimpus FRP line. In particular, the reinforcement of beams and pillars was achieved through the use of uniaxial fabrics in carbon fiber of 600 g / m2 OLY TEX CARBO 600 UNI AX HR while the reinforcement of the nodes was achieved through the application of quadriaxial fabrics in carbon fiber OLY TEX CARBO 38 QUADRI AX HR. The systems applied are both CVT certified at the CSLLPP STC.

JEC Composites Magazine: What are the most interesting applications of composite materials in the construction sector?
Domenico Brigante: “The applications of composite materials in construction are innumerable and involve all sectors of the industry that concern the construction sector. Currently the main use of these materials concerns the structural consolidation and the seismic improvement of existing buildings in reinforced concrete. and masonry also thanks to the strong growth of the sector determined by the Sismabonus Government incentives.”

JEC Composites Magazine: Can you give us some examples of a typical intervention made with composite materials?
Domenico Brigante: “An example of the advantages deriving from the use of composite materials in construction is the patented “OLYMPUS Sisma Joint” system. By using quadriaxial carbon fiber, uniaxial aramid fiber and aramid fiber connectors, it is possible to obtain the seismic improvement of structures framed in reinforced concrete. reinforcing the unconfined beam-pillar nodes without having to enter the houses. This solution exploits all the main advantages of composite systems, guaranteeing a seismic improvement intervention that does not cause an increase in weight, stiffness and section of the structure being consolidated.

Structural reinforcement of existing buildings FRP Composite materials can be used in the structural consolidation of existing buildings. Thanks to the mechanical properties of the systems, it is possible to use them in the seismic adaptation of masonry buildings or in local repairs to fix situations of structural deficit. One of the most common consolidation work on reinforced concrete elements is carried out for the reinforcement of concrete slabs. Thanks to their mechanical properties the systems can be employed also for seismic adjustment of masonry structures or also locally to fix some structural gaps. FRP systems shall be applied to the appropriate supports, such as those in reinforced concrete, load bearing walls, wood and steel.
Structural reinforcement of existing buildings:
FRP Composite materials can be used in the structural consolidation of existing buildings. Thanks to the mechanical properties of the systems, it is possible to use them in the seismic adaptation of masonry buildings or in local repairs to fix situations of structural deficit. One of the most common consolidation work on reinforced concrete elements is carried out for the reinforcement of concrete slabs. Thanks to their mechanical properties the systems can be employed also for seismic adjustment of masonry structures or also locally to fix some structural gaps. FRP systems shall be applied to the appropriate supports, such as those in reinforced concrete, load bearing walls, wood and steel.

The polymeric chain characteristic of the aramid fiber gives the composite materials made with this fiber, high shear and shear resistance characteristics that make it particularly suitable for the use indicated in the application.”

JEC Composites Magazine: Why choose composite materials instead of traditional ones? Which are the benefits?
Domenico Brigante: “The main advantages deriving from the use of composite materials for the structural consolidation of existing buildings are related to their characteristics of lightness, high strength and stiffness. Consolidation interventions made with composite materials, compared to those made with traditional materials such as steel and reinforced concrete, do not cause an appreciable increase in weight, stiffness and section of the reinforced elements. A further important advantage of composite materials is their durability over time and the total absence of oxidation phenomena.”

JEC Composites Magazine: Specifically, speaking of architecture and design, thanks to the potential offered by composites, it is possible to create shapes of all types and sizes, can you describe a particular case?
Domenico Brigante: “In the building industry, the very high strength and stiffness of composite materials, especially in the case of CFRP composites made with carbon fiber, allow the creation of slender products characterized by high mechanical characteristics. An important example of the use of FRP composites in architecture is the BUGA Fiber Pavillon, set in the landscape of the Bundesgartenschau park whose supporting structure is robotically produced only from advanced composite materials.”

Structural reinforcement of beams and pillars with FRP carbon fibers
Structural reinforcement of beams and pillars with FRP carbon fibers

JEC Composites Magazine: The construction sector is now seen as one of the major development sectors for composites.
Domenico Brigante: “The construction sector today represents an important driving force for the growth and development of countless industrial sectors related to the world of composite materials. The exponential growth in the use of these materials in the structural consolidation sector in construction currently absorbs a huge amount of the world production of resins and fibers.”

JEC Composites Magazine: Recyclable formworks, insulating panels, street furniture, construction is one of the sectors from which the industry expects significant growth impulses for producers and converters of fiber-reinforced composites.
Domenico Brigante: “For years there has not been a consumption of raw materials in the composite materials sector such as that determined today by the development of the construction sector. The excessive rapidity in the growth of this market has led to a shortage of raw materials as in the case of basalt fiber and numerous semi-finished products in the sector.”

JEC Composites Magazine: As a builder, what do you expect from fiber reinforced composite manufacturers and converters? What is the research activity currently focusing on?
Domenico Brigante: “In the immediate future, a rapid response is expected from yarn and resin producers and converters to meet the growing demand for these materials. In the medium term, the goal is instead to experiment and engineer new biocompatible materials to be introduced into the construction world.”

A structural consolidation system based on the use of FRP and FRCM materials, improve the seismic behavior of a reinforced concrete building working solely on the external envelope of the building. In order to carry out the consolidation of the knots not contained in reinforced concrete, it is possible to foresee the use of quadriaxial fabrics in carbon fiber and uniaxial fabrics in aramid fiber. The quadriaxial carbon fiber fabric is applied on the panels of the corner knots and the perimeter knots in order to give the joint in reinforced concrete the necessary mechanical resistance to withstand the seismic actions. The use of a quadiaxial fabric guarantees the best result in case of seismic action considering the inversion of the stresses during the earthquake. The use of uniaxial aramid fiber fabric allows an increase in the resistance of the knot with respect to seismic action. Aramid is the only synthetic fiber capable of directly absorbing cutting actions and is therefore the most suitable material to withstand such stresses.
A structural consolidation system based on the use of FRP and FRCM materials, improve the seismic behavior of a reinforced concrete building working solely on the external envelope of the building:
In order to carry out the consolidation of the knots not contained in reinforced concrete, it is possible to foresee the use of quadriaxial fabrics in carbon fiber and uniaxial fabrics in aramid fiber. The quadriaxial carbon fiber fabric is applied on the panels of the corner knots and the perimeter knots in order to give the joint in reinforced concrete the necessary mechanical resistance to withstand the seismic actions. The use of a quadiaxial fabric guarantees the best result in case of seismic action considering the inversion of the stresses during the earthquake. The use of uniaxial aramid fiber fabric allows an increase in the resistance of the knot with respect to seismic action. Aramid is the only synthetic fiber capable of directly absorbing cutting actions and is therefore the most suitable material to withstand such stresses.

JEC Composites Magazine: Replacing the steel reinforcements with corrosion-resistant CFRPs would lead to saving large quantities of concrete, however, the lack of homologations and corresponding general standards is always complained and slows down their use on a large scale.
Domenico Brigante: “The replacement of steel bars with FRP bars for the reinforcement of reinforced concrete structures would represent an important innovation of the new construction industry, but without an adequate regulatory framework, this market is struggling to grow. It is hoped that, both in Europe and nationally, a reference regulatory framework will soon be born that would allow a significant growth of the sector and of the entire connected industrial sector.”

JEC Composites Magazine: Italy has a building heritage of particular importance from a historical and architectural point of view. In fact, according to the ISTAT data of the last census (2011), in Italy 74.1% of residential buildings were built before 1980, and of these, 35% were built before 1946. In this context, assumes an increasingly important role is the rehabilitation and structural requalification through the use of new materials such as fiber-reinforced composites. How much are they used?
Domenico Brigante: “Much of the Italian construction was built in the absence of technical construction standards based on anti-seismic criteria and is therefore totally inadequate to the seismic risk of our country. Composite materials FRP, FRCM and CRM represent the main solution for the improvement and seismic adaptation of existing buildings and in these years the technicians are starting to use these “innovative” consolidation systems more and more.”

A structural consolidation system based on the use of FRP and FRCM materials
A structural consolidation system based on the use of FRP and FRCM materials

JEC Composites Magazine: In your opinion, what are the limits for the use of CFRP in construction?
Domenico Brigante: “The limits in the use of composite materials are often represented only by the insufficient knowledge of these systems. Being able to choose from countless fibers and matrices, it is possible to design the most suitable composite material for each application by exploiting the specific characteristics of the basic materials.”

JEC Composites Magazine: Let’s talk about costs, how much does the use of composite materials affect compared to traditional ones?
Domenico Brigante: “The use of composite materials is often more convenient also in economic terms than traditional materials. Given their lightness and the possibility of laminating FRP systems in situ, the costs of transport, handling and application of the systems are considerably reduced.”

The consolidation system of joints in reinforced concrete described above involves the use of quadriaxial fabrics in CFRP - and uniaxial fabrics in AFRP  Aramidic Fiber Reinforced Polymer with connectors in AFRP, engineered in order to guarantee structural consolidation without having to cut the cladding, thus avoiding interference with the units of building in correspondence with the structural elements subject to intervention. The proposed types of intervention improve the performance of the beam-column joint by increasing the shear resistance of the joint panel in the event of an eartquake and of the top portion of the column converging into it from below, with respect to the shear action exerted by the wall cladding. The increase in shear strength of the knot panel can be achieved by arranging axial carbon. The observation of the post-earthquake damage confirms that this cutting action can cause significant damage to the joint which, depending as well on the original construction, may present a diagonal crack on the joint panel or a pseudo-horizontal lesion in correspondence with the connection section of the pillar panel, or even the failure due to diagonal injury to the head of the pillar
The consolidation system of joints in reinforced concrete described above involves the use of quadriaxial fabrics in CFRP – and uniaxial fabrics in AFRP:
Aramidic Fiber Reinforced Polymer with connectors in AFRP, engineered in order to guarantee structural consolidation without having to cut the cladding, thus avoiding interference with the units of building in correspondence with the structural elements subject to intervention. The proposed types of intervention improve the performance of the beam-column joint by increasing the shear resistance of the joint panel in the event of an eartquake and of the top portion of the column converging into it from below, with respect to the shear action exerted by the wall cladding. The increase in shear strength of the knot panel can be achieved by arranging axial carbon. The observation of the post-earthquake damage confirms that this cutting action can cause significant damage to the joint which, depending as well on the original construction, may present a diagonal crack on the joint panel or a pseudo-horizontal lesion in correspondence with the connection section of the pillar panel, or even the failure due to diagonal injury to the head of the pillar

JEC Composites Magazine: In recent years, the theme of respect for the environment and sustainable design has become increasingly central to design. How do composite materials respond to these needs?
Domenico Brigante: “In recent years, research in the composite materials sector is increasingly directed towards biocompatible materials that will be engineered and introduced on the market in the coming years. Olympus is involved in many research projects on innovative materials and in particular the development of composites based on hemp fiber in an inorganic matrix that represents an innovative solution in respect of the environment and sustainable design.”

More information www.olympus-italia.com