Date of Award

December 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Habib Tabatabai

Committee Members

Habib Tabatabai, Konstantin Sobolev, Rani Elhajjar


Modified Resin


High-temperature performance of polyester- based construction materials is an important consideration when fire safety is a concern. These materials are typically used as non-structural components of buildings and other structures. Structural retrofits using fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are also gaining popularity. However, a major disadvantage of polymer- based materials (including FRP composites) is their flammability and toxic gas generation at high temperatures. The main objective of this research effort was to determine the mechanical properties and high-temperature performance of a polyester resin modified with various amounts of an industrial by-product additive. The additive used was Flu-Gas Desulfurization (FGD) gypsum, which is a byproduct of electricity generation in coal-burning power plants.

Compression and tensile strengths, stiffness, toughness, and impact resistance were measured. Thermo gravimetric analyses (TGA) were also performed to determinate material loss at a range of temperatures up to1100°C. A limited number of flame combustion tests were also conducted. Experimental results indicate that the tensile strength, stiffness, and energy-absorption capability of polyester resin can be markedly enhanced with the addition of FGD gypsum. TGA results show improved high-temperature performance in polyester resin modified with FGD gypsum and up to 50% of total composite. Under flame exposure, FGD gypsum provides a fire-resistant exterior barrier at the surface of the composite, which serves to protect the interior materials.