Composite materials consisting of high tensile strength steel cords embedded in a cementitious matrix (Steel Reinforced Grout, SRG) are becoming an attractive solution for strengthening existing structures thanks to the lower cost than “traditional” FRP systems, the isotropy of the steel and the ability of the mortar to resist fire. With respect to Steel Reinforced polymer (SRP) systems – whose mechanical behavior is predominantly dependent on the strength of the substrate to which the steel fibers are epoxy bonded – the mechanical properties of SRG systems are mainly dependent on the cement-based matrix which is sensitive to curing the installation conditions and methods. The experimental results presented and discussed in this paper contribute to expanding the existing knowledge on the bond behavior between the SRG and concrete substrate. To this purpose, a number of SRG strips were bonded to concrete blocks by an inorganic matrix and the lap joint was subsequently subjected to direct shear tests performed in displacement control. Since mortars are very sensitive to environmental conditions and humidity as previously mentioned, two different curing conditions were used. In the first case – termed “curing a” – specimens were cured at room temperature for 28 days and wet cloths were placed on top of the composite surface each day for two weeks. In the second case – termed “curing b” – specimens were just cured at room temperature for 28 days. In addition to the curing condition, the following study parameters were considered: (a) the concrete surface roughness in the bonded region, (b) the density of the dry steel fabric, (c) the bonded interface length, and (d) the concrete strength. Relatively to the latter parameter, concrete prisms were broadly divided into two strength groups: Normal Strength Concrete (NSC) having an average concrete cylindrical strength between 13 and 25 MPa and High Strength Concrete (HSC) having an average strength equal to 40 MPa. Experimental evidence underlines that SRG systems mainly exhibited a debonding failure at steel fibers-matrix interface (due to the sliding phenomena) irrespective of the concrete strength and surface finish. Furthermore, like the SRP systems, the low tape density showed better performances with respect to the higher densities considered in this paper, both in terms of the efficiency factor (i.e., the ratio between the tensile stress experienced by SRG in each test and the average tensile ultimate strength of dry steel fabric) and of the maximum force transferred by the system.
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