Eco Footbridges: Revamping Bridges with Bio-based Fiberglass and Resin
Publish On 10, Apr 2018 | Eco Footbridges: Revamping Bridges with Bio-based Fiberglass and Resin
Opting for an alternative innovation that will benefit the world in the long run, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, in cooperation with FiberCore Europe, an expert in composite technology, and Max Design, has decided to install footbridges made of bio-based fiberglass and resin to replace its steel counterparts.
Simon de Jong, founder of FiberCore Europe, is determined to devise a durable and sustainable alternative to traditional steel bridges, which last only 25 years, after which repair works and repainting are needed to extend their service life for another 25 years. This is not to mention the fact that they require constant monitoring to prevent damage and rust that commonly ensue after the repainting.
Furthermore, because they are in contact with water, steel footbridges are particularly vulnerable to rust, which may be inside the steel or develop after repainting, and can pose hazards for users if they collapse. After 50 years, steel footbridges will reach the end of their lifespan and are to be destroyed in furnaces.
On the other hand, the new composite footbridges, which are made of bio-based fiberglass and resin, are guaranteed a service life of 100 years and will not require maintenance every 25 years like their steel cousins; only occasional cleaning of bird droppings and replacement of LED lights are needed. In addition, their white finish makes it highly visible for commuters at night. Up to now, a total of 22 such bridges have been installed.
Designed as truss bridges, these footbridges consist of bio-based fiberglass and resin components. Initially, resin made up only 25 percent of the composite material. However, FiberCore Europe has further developed its technology and successfully increased the proportion of bioresin to 45 percent without affecting the mechanical properties and structural durability. This breakthrough can therefore be considered a huge step for environmental sustainability in Europe and might spread to the rest of the world in the future.
Let’s get to know fiberglass and resins.
Fiberglass is made of glass spun into fine filaments. Thanks to its durability, tensile strength, and thermal insulation properties, it is used to reinforce resin (mostly polyester resins) in the molding of products, resulting in fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP), which is rust-resistant and four times lighter than steel.
Resins are acrid and flammable liquid plastic that resembles lubricating oil and can be molded into different shapes, different from regular plastic, which is available in small pellets. The most commonly used resins are orthophthalic resins, which are employed in casting.