This paper evaluates the capability of waste iron powder-reinforced cementitious matrices as self-sensing materials in lieu of more expensive carbon fiber and nanoparticle reinforced matrices. Electrical impedance spectroscopy coupled with equivalent circuit modeling is used to determine the bulk resistance of the composite beams containing up to 40% by volume of iron particulates under flexural loading. The fractional change in resistance and the gage factor, as functions of the applied stress, increases with increasing iron particulate content, demonstrating the ability of these composites in self-sensing. A microstructure-guided electro-mechanical finite element model is used to simulate the strain sensing response of these composites. The 2D microstructure is subjected to different applied tensile stresses, and the deformed geometry subjected to an electrical potential to simulate the change in resistance. Debonding at the inclusion-paste interface under load, which is found to significantly influence the fractional change in resistance, is accounted for by using a bilinear softening model. The model is found to correlate well with the experimental data, and has the potential to facilitate microstructural design of materials to achieve desired degrees of self-sensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Debonding
  • Electrical impedance
  • Microstructural model
  • Particulate reinforcement
  • Strain sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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