The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: Analysis of debonding failure of externally–bonded FRP systems on concrete

Currently Active: 

Premature debonding of Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) plates hampers the efficient use of externally-bonded FRP plates for flexural strengthening of concrete beams. The uncertainty about the governing mechanisms of FRP debonding means that there is no reliable theory that can be applied by designers.

Project Overview

Fig 1
Fig 2

Fig. 1 Externally-bonded FRP strengthening systems often fail in premature debonding

Fig. 2 Finite element analyses unable to predict FRP debonding accurately: (a) Infinite stress prediction for a re-entrant corner (b) The plate end of a strengthened beam is a re-entrant corner

Fracture mechanics model for the analysis of FRP debonding

Since flaws are inevitable in the interface, what matters is whether an existing flaw can propagate causing debonding. We developed a fracture mechanics based model that represents energy balance requirements, rather than an unreliable analysis of the crack-tip stress field. The model is based on governing parameters that can be reliably determined. The model is able to analyse all modes of FRP debonding. Methods to determine the energy states in beams and the interface fracture energy to a reliable accuracy were also developed. The debonding model predicts results that match with experimental test results of FRP debonding on concrete beams.



Fig 3

Our model will be used to answer the question “Will this interface crack extend?” This presupposes that a preexisting crack must be present. It is not concerned with how that crack or flaw forms in the first place.

Fig. 3 – Debonding crack just (a) before (b) after small a extension



Using the concept of, ‘the current state of a system will be at a position of minimum total potential energy’, the model determines that debonding will occur if the energy available for a potential small extension of an existing interface crack exceeds the energy needed to form the required new fracture surfaces – that is, if the energy release rate (energy release per unit extension of a crack of unit width) associated with the crack exceeds the interface fracture energy then the crack will propagate. It is sufficient to assume that flaws of the relevant size are likely to exist. The model can be used to determine the shortest crack that triggers failure at a given load, or the failure load of a beam with a crack of known length.



Fig 4

Fig. 4 – Failure loads for different plate curtailment locations of a given simply supported beam


Benefits to structural engineering

The model we developed provides an essential tool that will enable fracture mechanics to be used to determine the load at which FRP plates will debond from concrete beams. This will obviate the need for finite element analyses to be used in situations where there is an infinite stress concentration and where the exact details of the interface geometry and properties are unknowable.


Research collaborator

Prof. Chris Burgoyne , University of Cambridge


Relevant publications

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2008). Fracture mechanics of plate debonding. Journal of Composites for Construction 12(4):396-404 doi:10.1061/(ASCE)1090-0268(2008)12:4(396)

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2009). Moment–curvature and strain energy of beams with external FRP reinforcement. ACI Structural Journal 106 (1): 20-29.

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2011). Fracture mechanics of plate debonding: Validation against experiment. Construction and Building Materials 25(6): 2961-71. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2010.11.103

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2012). Prediction of FRP debonding using the global- energy-balance Approach. Magazine of Concrete Research 64(11): 1033-44. doi:10.1680/macr.11.00182

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2013). Fracture energy of the concrete-FRP interface in strengthened

Beams. Engineering Fracture Mechanics 110: 38-51. doi:10.1016/j.engfracmech.2013.07.016

Guan, G, Burgoyne, CJ and Achintha, M (2014). Parametric study of FRP plate debonding using global energy balance. Journal of Composites for Construction 18(6): 04014020-1-10. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)CC.1943-5614.0000474

Burgoyne, CJ, Achintha M and Guan XG (2012). Prediction of FRP debonding using the Global-Energy-Balance-Approach. ACI 2012 Spring convention, Dallas, USA, 18-22 March.

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2009). Fracture mechanics of plate debonding: Experimental Validation. 9th Int. Conf. on Fibre Reinforced Polymers for Reinforced Concrete Structures, Sydney, Australia, 13-15 July.

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2007). Fracture mechanics of plate debonding. Procs 8th Int.Conf. on Fibre Reinforced Polymers for Reinforced Concrete Structures, Patras, Greece, 16-18 July.

Achintha, M and Burgoyne, CJ (2006). A Fracture-mechanics model for debonding of external Fibre Reinforced Polymer plates on reinforced concrete beams. 10th East Asia-Pacific Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction, Bangkok, Thailand, 3-5 August.


Further information

Please contact Dr Mithila Achintha (E-mail: or 02380 59 2924)

Related research groups

Engineering Materials
Share this research project Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.