All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Fouad Fouad

Advisory Committee Members

Jason Kirby

Nassim Uddin

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Civil Engineering (MCE) School of Engineering


The purpose of this research project is to analyze the current state-of-the-art, including use and design practices, of utility distribution poles and to evaluate the performance of spun prestressed concrete poles with different reinforcement schemes as a viable alternative to wood utility poles. There are an estimated 185 million utility distribution poles in place in the United States, and over 130 million are made out of wood. Most of the existing distribution poles are now approaching or have surpassed their useful lives since they were designed with a life expectancy of 50 years and were installed in the 1950s and the 1960s. A study in 2014 reported that 45% of distribution infrastructure is at the end or near the end of its service life. In addition, the existing distribution infrastructure was not designed with the purpose of meeting today’s demand, nor of withstanding severe weather events. Therefore, in order to continue to provide reliable and affordable electric power, North American utility companies are making considerable investments to replace, improve, and expand the utility distribution infrastructure. The first phase (Chapters 1 to 4) of this thesis involves an extensive analysis of the status of the electricity industry and the properties of the distribution infrastructure, looking into challenges and requirements, and comparing concrete poles to wood poles and other material alternatives. This first section also includes a literature review of spun prestressed concrete poles and the use of fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) as a form of reinforcement. The second phase (Chapters 5 and 6) consists of an experimental program where five full-scale pole specimens were designed, manufactured and tested. Each pole specimen was developed with a different reinforcement scheme in order to evaluate its performance and analyze its behavior. Based on the data collected during the testing, comparisons among the pole specimens were made in order to assess the performance of the different reinforcement schemes. The third phase (Chapter 7) of this thesis includes the discussion of the results from phases one and two, the conclusions, and recommendations for further work.

Included in

Engineering Commons



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