Behavior of Plywood and Fiberglass Steel Composite Tube Structures Subjected to Impact Loading
Paratransit buses are custom built as the major vehicle manufacturer produces the custom built passenger cage installed on the chassis for the Paratransit bus. In order for these Paratransit bus members to be sufficient, they have to be evaluated for crashworthiness and energy absorption. This has prompted Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to fund research for the safety evaluation of Paratransit busses consisting of crash and safety analysis. There has been a large body of research done on steel subjected to static loads, but more research is needed for steel applied under dynamic loading and high speeds in order to improve crashworthiness in events such as rollovers and side impacts. Bare steel Hollow Structural Section (HSS) tubing are used a lot as structural members of Paratransit buses because of their lightness and progressive buckling under loading. The research will be conducted on quantifying the tubing's behavior under bending by conducting static three point bending and impact loading tests. In addition to the bare tubing, plywood and fiberglass composites are investigated because they are both strong and lightweight and their behavior under dynamic loading hasn't been quantified. As a result, the main purpose of this research is to quantify the differences between the dynamic and static behavior of plywood steel composite and fiberglass steel composite tubing and compare these findings with those of bare steel tubing. The differences will be quantified using detailed and thorough experiments that will examine the composites behavior under both static and dynamic loading. These tests will determine if there are any advantages of using the composite materials and thus allow for recommendations to be made to the FDOT with the goal of improving the safety of Paratransit busses. Tensile tests were conducted to determine the material properties of the tested specimens. Before the static and dynamic experiments are run to investigate the differences between static and dynamic behavior, Preliminary three point bending testing was conducted to determine the parameters for the final experiments. Static bending testing was conducted on the bare, plywood composite, and fiberglass composite steel tubing. The point of these experiments was to produce a Moment vs. Rotation plot to determine the specimens' maximum moments and their associated rotation, as that is when the steel buckles and fails. The dynamic three point bending experiments were conducted using the impact loading apparatus and had the same purpose as the static experiments. For both static and dynamic experiments, the performances of the different types of specimens were compared based upon their Moment vs. Rotation plots. This will determine the effect that the composite has on the rotation and maximum moment at which the tubing fails. After conducting these experiments, amplification factors were established for each specimen by comparing the maximum moment and their associated rotation between static and dynamic testing. λ was calculated to quantify the ratio between the static and dynamic maximum moments. β was used to quantify the ratio between the rotation needed to produce the maximum moment between static and dynamic events. A small amplification factor denotes that material performs well under impact loading and the material doesn't experience dramatic change in behavior during dynamic events. Amplification factors were compared between the bare, plywood, and fiberglass composite steel tubing in order to evaluate the performance of the composites. After comparing the amplification factors of the different types of tubing, recommendations can be made. Fiberglass and plywood composite were shown to be valuable because it decreased the effect of dynamic forces as β was reduced by a factor of 2 in comparison to bare tubing. Based upon the amplification factors, it was recommended to use 14 gauge fiberglass composite tubing as Paratransit bus structural members because it was affected the least by dynamic loading.
June 13, 2014.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Sungmoon Jung, Professor Directing Thesis; Lisa Spainhour, Committee Member; Kamal Tawfiq, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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