Despite its extensive use, low tensile strength has been recognized as one of the major drawbacks of concrete. Although one has learned to avoid exposing concrete structures to adverse static tensile load, these cannot be shielded from short duration dynamic tensile stresses. Such loads originate from sources such as impact from missiles and projectiles, wind gusts, earthquakes and machine vibrations. The need to accurately predict the structural response and reserve capacity under such loading has led to an interest in the mechanical properties of the component materials at high rates of straining.
One method to improve the resistance of concrete when subjected to impact and/or impulsive loading is by the incorporation of randomly distributed short fibers. Concrete (or Mortar) so reinforced is termed fiber reinforced concrete (FRC). Moderate increase in tensile strength and significant increases in energy absorption (toughness or impact-resistance) have been reported by several investigators in static tests on concrete reinforced with randomly distributed short steel fibers. A theoretical model to predict fracture toughness of FRC is proposed. This model is based on the concept of nonlinear elastic fracture mechanics.
As yet no standard test methods are available to quantify the impact resistance of such composites, although several investigators have employed a variety of tests including drop weight, swinging pendulums and the detonation of explosives. These tests though useful in ascertaining the relative merits of different composites do not yield basic material characteristics which can be used for design.
The author has recently developed an instrumented Charpy type of impact test to obtain basic information such as load-deflection relationship, fracture toughness, crack velocity and load-strain history during an impact event. From this information, a damage based constitutive model was proposed. Relative improvements in performance due to the addition of fibers as observed in the instrumented tests are also compared with other conventional methods.