The use of fiber reinforce polymer, FRP, bonding to strengthen and repair deteriorated steel structures is increasing owing to its unique advantages over traditional strengthening and repair techniques. However, the lack of knowledge regarding environmental durability of adhesively bonded FRP/steel joints still hinders the widespread application of this method in steel structures. A number of studies have reported significant degradation of mechanical properties of these joints in hot and wet environments. In addition to that, the mechanisms of failure have been observed empirically to change from cohesive failure in the adhesive to apparent interfacial failure with increasing amount of moisture. This study presents the results of an experimental and numerical investigation to predict the mechanical behavior of FRP/steel joints after hygrothermal aging. First, moisture diffusion kinetics and mechanical degradation of a two-part commercially available epoxy adhesive and Carbon FRP material were experimentally characterized over a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions. These parameters were then incorporated in a coupled 3D diffusion-mechanical finite element, FE, model. In addition, bonded double-lap shear joints of CFRP/steel were aged for up to a year and tested to failure. It is found that the presence of moisture for less than a critical period can increase the joint strength. However, prolonged exposure to the same moisture content degrades the load-carrying capacity of the joint.
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