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    AUS researcher examines use of novel material for sustainable reinforced concrete in the UAE

    Urbanization, population growth and environmental factors have necessitated the design and implementation of sustainable and efficient infrastructure solutions around the world. As researchers have been looking into alternative materials for sustainable infrastructures, Dr. Farid Abed, Professor in Civil Engineering at American University of Sharjah (AUS), has been leading research teams to examine the usage and durability of innovative and sustainable reinforcement and repair construction materials in the UAE.

    With more than 10 years of experience in sustainable reinforced concrete structures and structural mechanics of polymers and composites, Dr. Abed is researching the use of Fiber-Reinforced Polymers (FRPs) and Fiber-Reinforced Cementitious Matrix (FRCM) composites in concrete structures. FRPs and FRCM are environmentally friendly, nontoxic and magnetic insulators of low density and high strength- to-weight ratio. These characteristics make them easy to handle and cost effective. Commonly used types include Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (CFRP), Glass Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) and Basalt Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (BFRP).

    “Products such as GFRP, BFRP and many others are relatively new and are yet to be researched thoroughly in the UAE. Many of these products require testing on full-scale structural elements, which means detailed research is needed to accurately predict the performance of concrete structures using these new products. My research on reinforcing concrete structures aims to identify the areas that require further study while working with governmental agencies and private companies to develop and implement tests that will ensure the successful use of these new products and reduction of maintenance costs,” said Dr. Abed.

    He added: “Reinforcement of concrete structures with innovative and sustainable materials, including the use of advanced composites, is of increasing interest to the industry and governments. Research in the field is important because it will inform the development of the existing construction codes and standards.”

    Dr. Abed has outlined his findings in two studies that are pertinent to developments in construction in the UAE: “Structural Performance and Durability of Carbon-, Glass- and Basalt-Fiber Reinforced Polymer Reinforcing Bars under the GCC Harsh Environment” and “Innovative Retrofitting Technique of Corrosion-Damaged and Seismically-Deficient Reinforced Concrete Structures using FRCM composites.”

    In his research, Dr. Abed collaborated with scholars from the US, Canada, France, Malaysia and the UAE. These included Dr. Ahmed El Refai from Laval University in Canada, Dr. Tamer El Maaddawy from UAE University, Dr. George Voyiadjis from Louisiana State University in the US and Dr. Mohammad Abdul Mannan from Sarawak University in Malaysia. His research also involved collaborations with the industry.

    Looking ahead, Dr. Abed aims to investigate fire performance of reinforced concrete that consists of FRP and FRCM composites. He will be conducting his research in collaboration with Laval University in Canada and carry out the testing phase at the Thomas Bell-Wright fire facility in the UAE.

    “This is a new research area where I will focus on studying the thermal and structural response of FRCM versus FRP systems in a fire, which is an area that has not been investigated sufficiently,” said Dr. Abed.

    Dr. Abed believes in involving his students in research work to enable them to develop independent critical thinking along with oral and written communication skills. Graduate and undergraduate students have been heavily involved in Dr. Abed’s research and have co-authored many of his publications.

    “Undergraduate students played an important role in experimentation and practical areas, while graduate students have been involved in the design and implementation of experiments as well as writing manuscripts. I have also supervised jointly and individually more than 30 graduate students, some of whom are currently pursuing their PhD studies in the US and Canada,” he said.

    Dr. Abed has published more than 80 articles and more than 50 book chapters and conference proceedings. His work was published in prestigious top peer-reviewed journals such as the ASCE Journal of Composites for Construction, ASCE Journal of Engineering Mechanics, ACI Structural Journal, Composite Structures and Construction and Building Materials.

    “AUS is very supportive of my research and very generous in funding my projects. My work has received several AUS faculty research grants including the funding of graduate students. I have also received external research grants from Bee’h and the Sharjah Research Academy,” said Dr. Abed.

    AUS is ranked number one in the UAE and among the top ​150 universities globally for civil and structural engineering, according to QS World University Subject Rankings (202​2​). According to the same ranking, College of Engineering graduates are also the top choice for employers in the UAE. The Department of Civil Engineering is recognized throughout the region for the exceptional education it offers through its undergraduate and graduate programs.

    For more information about what the civil engineering program offers, visit www.aus.edu/cen/department-of-civil-engineering.