The Constructor

Carbon Fiber Fabric as Building Material – Properties and Uses



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Carbon fiber fabric is a strong fiber that is light in weight and has long strands interwoven together so that it forms a fabric-like structure. Carbon fiber, known as graphite fiber, dominates the steel in terms of strength, stiffness, and load-bearing capacity. These leading properties make carbon fiber a perfect building material in construction projects. It works best with the structures that receive high impact loads.

Properties of Carbon Fiber as Building Material

The important properties of carbon fiber are:

  1. Carbon fiber is flexible
  2. The density of carbon fiber is around 1600kg/m3
  3. Carbon fiber is chemically stable
  4. It posses good electrical conductivity
  5. Carbon fiber has considerable resistance to fire
  6. The thermal conductivity of carbon fiber is high, with a value of 24.
  7. It has a lower value of thermal expansion, which makes it suitable in areas were small movements are critical.
  8. Carbon fiber has two times greater stiffness than steel with a value of 26830 N/m.
  9. The strength to weight ratio of carbon fiber is very high
  10. The tensile strength of carbon fiber is good with an approximate value of 290 kgf/cm2
Fig.1. Black Carbon Fiber Fabric Used as Building Material
Image Courtesy: ZhongAgo Carbon

Uses of Carbon Fiber Fabric in Construction

The three pivotal applications of carbon fiber are :

1. Use of Carbon fiber for Precast Concrete Construction

The use of carbon fibers in precast concrete elements is gaining massive popularity in the USA. The standard steel mesh reinforcement used in the outer and the inner section of concrete precast wall elements can be replaced by the sheets or grids of carbon fibers.

By the use of carbon fiber instead of steel mesh, the overall weight of the structural unit decreases. A welded grid used in concrete slab construction can be replaced by a carbon fiber grid, which reduces total weight and gains needful chemical protection.

Sandwich wall panels can make use of carbon fibers as a shear grid or as a truss.

2. Carbon Fiber as Reinforcement

Carbon fibers are gaining more popularity in strengthening the concrete structures externally. It is used as an external reinforcement for columns. Hence it is taking a role in rehabilitation also. This strengthening method reduces the need for extra anchoring works and installation, which is very time consuming and costly.

Fig.2. Beam Strengthened by Carbon Fiber Fabric

3. Carbon Fiber in Bridge Construction

Construction of main load-bearing structures, cables, decks, and supports also make use of carbon fibers.

Also Read: Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers

Also Read: Fiber Reinforced Concrete (FRC)

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