In the developed countries, the construction industry allocates around 40-50% of the construction budget on rehabilitation of existing concrete infrastructure. Maintenance, repair, seismic retrofitting, and inspection constitute a major portion of the rehabilitation cost. Concrete structures, such as tunnels, water tanks, and bridges, are difficult and costly to construct and maintain. Investments in new infrastructure and in repair and maintenance of the existing infrastructure are huge. The requirements for durability, sustainability and productivity are increasing.
In the UK alone, more than 500 million pounds are spent on the rehabilitation of structurally deficient concrete structures. The rehabilitation process of bridges and roads also involve heavy indirect costs. Maintenance activities cause less disruption to road users if they are carried out in a well-planned and timely manner.
The concrete reinforcement is one of the most crucial materials that determine the strength and expected service life of a structure. Traditional steel reinforcement, for example, is not susceptible to corrosion which ultimately leads to expensive repair and maintenance. Civil engineers have to select the materials carefully as the requirements for longer service life with minimum maintenance is increasing.
Widespread structural deficiency increases the constraints on the materials to be used. At the same time, society is also imposing environmental demands, and even if durability is the most important environmental parameter for infrastructure constructions, environmental issues are the main drivers for the development of new materials. These new materials include, for example, FRP reinforcement and cement with reduced environmental impact.
FRP composite materials have gained considerable popularity and acceptance in the civil engineering circles due to their unique and desirable properties. Corrosion resistance, high strength, ease of installation, and minimum maintenance are some of the factors that make FRP composites a potential solution to deterioration and steel corrosion.
In order to meet the future requirements, it is essential that structural engineers explore innovative and environmentally friendly materials. Concrete deterioration is a challenging issue that calls for the development of sustainable materials and modern construction techniques. All the stakeholders, from researchers, material producers and construction agencies have to play their role in order to make civil infrastructure more dependable and sustainable.
The application of FRP composites in civil engineering should be promoted worldwide. Countries like Canada, Japan, and the US are already using FRP construction products as an alternative to steel and other traditional materials. It has become inevitable to construct sustainable, maintenance free, and long-lasting concrete structures. Governments can save billions of dollars every year by making a good use of innovative and promising materials.