How Bridge Engineering Could Become More Sustainable

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New research conducted at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand has identified a new material that could be used in bridge engineering and design to significantly reduce the risk of corrosion in such structures.

Phys.org reported on the study, which found that using glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) bars, as opposed to steel bars, in bridges could make a significant difference not only to their maintenance but also their strength.

GFRP bars are corrosion free, half the weight of steel bars and have a higher tensile strength, the publication noted.

The study at the University of Canterbury found that the optimum bridge design combined both GFRP and steel bars in its construction, as this delivered “excellent seismic performance and an increase in the usable life of the structure”, Ph.D. candidate at the university Cain Stratford explained.

Professor Alessandro Palermo, who led the research, commented: “I believe that the outcomes of this study will result in a major design shift in the field of bridge engineering, with structural application soon in New Zealand.”

This could be important in preventing future bridge collapses, like that seen in Genoa in 2018, when the Morandi Bridge collapsed due to corrosion and structural weakness, killing 43 people.

Genoa is set to get a new structure to replace the Morandi Bridge, with Renzo Piano behind the design of the replacement bridge. It will contain robots and sensors to constantly monitor its condition and carry out basic maintenance when necessary.

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