How Composites Allow Infrastructure Innovations Like Faster Bridge Repair

Composites like carbon fiber and epoxy are being used in a number of infrastructure applications, including bridge building, dam gate composition and pipeline construction. General infrastructure repair is another area where composites can deliver great value to the industry.

Composites allow for more effective bridge repair

Consider the University of Utah, which has developed a way to quickly and effectively repair bridges damaged by earthquakes. According to the university’s civil engineering professor Chris Pantelides, who led the efforts to pioneer bridge repair, it can take weeks to repair a bridge with cracked or spalled columns using traditional methods. This timeframe can leave roads unusable for long periods of time, which isn’t ideal in the aftermath of natural disasters, where emergency vehicle access is essential.

Pantelides’ group used a composite carbon fiber “donut” at the top and bottom of each bridge column. This material is stronger and more lightweight than concrete or steel and has the added benefit of deflecting damage to the surrounding material, leaving the remainder of the columns structurally intact. This means the bridge will be better able to withstand future earthquakes or aftershocks.

How composite materials can save on costs and repair time

Composite materials like carbon fiber and epoxy can be more cost effective than alternative materials. They can last longer than concrete or steel and offer lower manufacturing costs due to the flexibility with which they can be produced.

Other contractors are using composites to repair structures like bridge beams and decks, parking garages, and pipelines. In fact, it’s been estimated that more than 20 million square feet of carbon fiber are installed in reinforced concrete buildings throughout the U.S. Carbon fiber and epoxy can increase load capacity for concrete floors and beams, and withstands temperature well, avoiding the contraction or expansion that can crack structures. And they’re corrosion resistant — especially useful for water bridges.

Composites One is the leading supplier of composite materials for the infrastructure industry

Composites One is the leading distributor of composites throughout North America. We work with the infrastructure industry supplying carbon fiber, epoxy and other high-quality materials. To learn more about the materials we distribute, contact Composites One today.