Traditionally, bridges were engineered using steel, iron, or wood. Though since the 1990s-early 2000s, bridge construction specialists have been using cheaper, quicker, and less laborious materials for rehabilitation and strengthening projects– and they’re called carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers (CFRPs).

What is carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRPs)?

Carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers are composite materials made up of two parts: carbon fibres (to provide stiffness & strength) and a polymer matrix (to bind & bond it to the surface). Bridge construction specialists use lots of different combinations of the two parts, depending on the project at hand.

Typically, the `fibre` element of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers may contain:

  1. Glass
  2. Carbon
  3. Aramid
  4. Basalt
  5. Wood & plant fibres (less common)

Meanwhile, the `polymers` element of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers contains either:

  1. An epoxy (most common)
  2. Vinyl ester
  3. Polyester thermosetting plastic

When combined, the fibres and polymers create a strong, versatile, and long-lasting material that is ideal for a wide range of bridge engineering projects. Jump to our carbon fibre page for more information.

What are carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers used for?

Reinforced carbon fibre has many uses in bridge rehabilitation, along with bridge strengthening and bridge repair. A few examples of where carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers are used during bridge construction:

  1. Load-bearing areas
  2. Modular edge elements
  3. Bridge decks
  4. Small span foot bridge construction

Carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers properties

Carbon fibre polymers are relatively new materials, so the full breadth of benefits is yet to be discovered. A few examples:

  1. Quick & easy application – fewer labour hours;
  2. High fatigue resistance;
  3. More affordable than traditional strengthening materials like steel and iron;
  4. Versatile – can be made to imitate iron, steel, wood, and other materials, helping preserve the original aesthetics of bridges that are considered cultural landmarks.
  5. Much improved weight to strength ratio

To discover more about the properties of carbon-fibre reinforced polymers, give us a quick call on: 01482 425250.

Carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers in action

At CCUK, we often apply CFRPs to bridge structures. Our most recent is called Peaseholm Project:

“During the Peaseholm Project, over 900m2 of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer was applied to the underside of an iconic bridge in Scarborough.

Working closely with the client’s engineering team, we delivered a bespoke solution.

This included strengthening the RC deck slab, which was perpendicular to the span of the bridge”.

– Jamie, CCUK

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