There are really two questions here: 1) Underground fiber-reinforced versus mesh reinforced; and 2) slope protection fiber reinforced versus mesh reinforced.
- Underground fiber reinforced versus mesh reinforced: it is not clear what the alternatives are that you are considering, but sprayed concrete has a good, solid track record for ground support. If it is a simple comparison of steel mesh versus steel fiber reinforcement, then the issue is one of a design approach.
Wire mesh and bolts have a longer history and are simple to design as a rigid structure. To install mesh and bolts, however, requires working under unsupported ground. Mechanized spraying of concrete is done with the operator under supported ground and therefore is intrinsically safer.The design of fiber-reinforced sprayed concrete as ground support is approached differently. The sprayed concrete is allowed to deform to a certain extent before coming to rest with the ground forces finding a new equilibrium. The extent of this deformation depends on the energy absorption of the sprayed concrete structure, which is provided for by the fibers.Steel fiber-reinforced sprayed concrete is by far faster to place and therefore has economic benefits. As the fibers are discontinuous, there is merit in considering this structure less susceptible to corrosion and consequential durability issues. We recommend consulting ACI 506.1R and ACI 506.5R.
- Slope protection fiber reinforced versus mesh reinforced: for slope protection, both fiber-reinforced and wire-mesh-reinforced shotcrete work well and are durable, reliable, and cost effective if done properly. Care must be taken with wire mesh reinforcing to ensure that it is maintained in the middle of the section and not on the ground where it is not effective. Wire mesh can also be difficult to install on an irregular surface and require more shotcrete material to cover the area and the mesh. The wire mesh can be an asset to the installer in providing a grid to support a scaffold system. In many applications, the choice of wire mesh or fibers should be left to the installer with the engineer specifying the minimum requirement for each.