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:
- Wood & plant fibres (less common)
Meanwhile, the `polymers` element of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers contains either:
- An epoxy (most common)
- Vinyl ester
- 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:
- Load-bearing areas
- Modular edge elements
- Bridge decks
- 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:
- Quick & easy application – fewer labour hours;
- High fatigue resistance;
- More affordable than traditional strengthening materials like steel and iron;
- Versatile – can be made to imitate iron, steel, wood, and other materials, helping preserve the original aesthetics of bridges that are considered cultural landmarks.
- 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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