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Incorporation of fibers in concrete mix is not new. Since ancient times, fibrous materials have been used as reinforcement in concrete. Fiber reinforced concrete is a type of concrete integrated with fibrous substances that increases its structural strength and cohesion. Asbestos fibers are originally used in concrete, but due to health risks associated with it, researchers studied other fibrous materials to replace it. Nowadays, fibers used are steel fibers, glass fibers, synthetic fibers, and natural fibers. The effects of these fibers, specifically polymer fiber and natural fiber, in the performance of concrete are compared to each other.
Polymer fibers are under the man-made fibers, which are made up of synthetic materials or chemicals, often from petrochemical sources, rather than arising from natural materials by a purely physical process. Polymers are added in concrete to enhance its properties like water proofing, resistance to moisture, chemical resistance, freezing and thawing, and improved bond strength. The effects of polymer fiber depend on the types of synthetic used to reinforce the concrete. For example, Polyurethane fibers give concrete a higher impact resistance, greater cohesion, improved flow and workability, and greater ability to withstand freezing and thawing deformation.
Natural fibers include those produced by plants, animals, and geological processes. Natural fiber reinforced concrete is a special concrete that contains fibers with a small diameter and randomly distributed in the cement mix. Adding of additional fiber in concrete mix uniformly contributes to an increase in tensile strength and resistance to cracking, impact and improved the ductility values for the good aspects of energy absorption. Natural fibers have a high elastic modulus, a better bod between matrix and fiber, a good composition, a stable geometry and a good durability.
The characteristics of fiber reinforced concrete are changed by the alteration of certain factors: type and quantity of fibers, geometric configuration, dispersal, direction, and concentration. Both natural and polymer fibers have their own advantages and disadvantages. Natural fibers are less harmful to the environment because they are from natural resources unlike those of polymer fibers which are made up of chemicals. But as for other characteristics, polymer fibers are more advantageous than of natural, since it can be made up of different chemicals depending on what type of concrete is needed.
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