Composite materials for constructions

Experimental activities

This segment of the Lab carries out experiments related to fiber-reinforced composites with plastic and cementitious matrices (FRP and FRCM). One focus falls on textile reinforced composites used in various industrial sectors, with particular interest in materials used for structural rehabilitation and reinforcement of structures in seismic areas. Another focus falls on FRP pultruded rods used as concrete reinforcements, as a potential alternative to conventional steel rebars.
The Lab is equipped to perform all major experiments for the mechanical characterization and the durability of the composites and their components (fibers and matrix). In particular, the following tests are performed:
• Semi-destructive and non-destructive testing for verification of reinforcement installation
• Climatic conditions: temperatures changes, humidity, UVA rays, salt water spray.


All the experiments may be certified according to the major international standards or guidelines. In Italy the guidelines for composites for constructions are issued by the board of Ministry of Public Works and the national Research Council. The Lab is accredited by the national accreditation body ACCREDIA for the tests on composite materials reported in various international standards.

Testing of elements for railway tracks

Testing services

Conforming to the most recent requirements in the railway sector, the Lab has developed the necessary expertise and testing systems for the validation of pre-stressed reinforced concrete railway sleepers, rails and related fastening systems. Tests are conducted according to the specifications set by RFI, the Italian State Railway Network, and the reference European Standards. Typical testing activities include:
• Bending tests of pre-stressed concrete sleepers for static and fatigue actions
• Impact load testing
• Testing of fastening systems for repeated loading and for the determination of: longitudinal rail restraint, torsional resistance, clamping force, severe environmental conditions, pulling out resistance
• Evaluation of electrical resistance  (sleeper with fastening system)
• Evaluation of stiffness for rail pads

Testing of structural members and components for seismic design

The Lab operates on the basis of a wide experience for the testing of members and components of steel, reinforced concrete and composite structures for quasi-static cyclic or seismic loading.
The activities are related to the following aspects:

• testing of full-size or reduced scale models of vertical load-bearing members for cyclic and seismic loading
• testing of connections between structural members for cyclic and seismic loading
• seismic characterization and certification of structural members and connection
• assistance to planning and execution of investigations and tests via quasi-static cyclic loading
The activities can exploit the lab “strong floor” and reaction frames, capable of applying horizontal loads up to 1000 kN, with simultaneous control of the vertical load.
Recent examples of testing of member include: voided slabs  and slab-column connections; dissipative connections (friction, plastic and silycon devices) for façade panels; mechanical column-foundation connections for pre-cast structures; coupling beams in reinforced concrete walls made of high performance cementitious composites.

Diagnostics, monitoring and investigations of materials and cultural heritage buildings

Testing services

• On site diagnostic investigations on historical masonry buildings, including both non-destructive tests (ultrasound, sonic, radar, thermographic, etc.) and slightly-destructive tests (flat jacks, core sampling, endoscopy, resistograph, surface hardness, humidity measurements, survey of masonry sections and sampling of materials for laboratory testing and stratigraphic surveys, pull-off tests); geometrical survey and survey of structural and physical deterioration and damages, including fire; static monitoring and control of geometric variations.
• Chemical, physical and mechanical characterisation of porous materials (lime and cement-based mortar, stone and ceramic materials, stone and brick masonry and brickwork), study of their durability against environmental factors (freez and thaw, salt crystallisation UV rays, R.H and temperature variations, thermal shock). Experimental application of structural and surface consolidation techniques, re-pointing of joints, injection of mixtures grouts, surface protection. Analysis of material compatibility (mortars, bricks, stones).
• Testing of natural and manufactured stone materials.

Geotechnical Laboratory

Testing services

The Lab provides high-level expertise, equipment and facilities related to geotechnical testing, aiming at supporting both engineering design and research.
Among others, its activities include:
– laboratory tests on natural and reconstituted samples, executed in accordance with national and international standards and accompanied by official certificate reporting results: identification and classification of soils, mechanical testing (oedometric, triaxial, direct shear, ring shear), hydraulic testing (permeability, water retention curve);
– design of non-standard apparatuses and test procedures (with dedicated data acquisition system) to meet the needs of any special application, also accompanied by official certificates or test reports with experimental data;
– execution of tests for mechanical and hydraulic characterization of geotextile reinforced soils, soils treated with waterproofing mixtures or expanding resins;
– design, development and set-up of small and medium-scale models for the understanding of complex geotechnical and environmental system (p.e. foundations and slopes, earthworks, groundwater pumping systems in urban and non-urban areas);
– the complete development of in situ monitoring programs.
The described skills in testing geomaterials (soil and rock) may also be extended to other types of porous aggregates.