Would you like a free digital subscription?

Qualified international subscribers can receive full issues of High-Performance Composites and Composites Technology delivered in a convenient and interactive digital magazine format. Read at your convenience on your desktop or mobile device.

Yes, I would like a free digital subscription!

No thanks, please don't ask again.

Industry News
Railroad bridges built from recycled plastics

Axion International Holdings Inc. has built the two railroad bridges constructed from 100 percent recycled thermoplastic materials, at Fort Eustis, Va.

Author:
Posted on: 6/21/2010
Source: Composites Technology

Click Image to Enlarge

 

Axion International Holdings Inc. (New Providence, N.J.) has announced that it has built the first railroad bridges constructed from 100 percent recycled thermoplastic materials, at Fort Eustis, Va. Designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff (New York, N.Y.) the short-span bridges are based on Axion’s patented Recycled Structural Composite (RSC) system, which consists of nearly 100 percent recycled post-consumer and industrial thermoplastics and is developed in collaboration with researchers at Rutgers University. Axion International is the commercial spin-off and licensee of the RSC system, developed at Rutgers’ AMIPP Advanced Polymer Center. The bridge design and engineering work was supported by Reston, Va.-based Centennial Contractors Enterprises, the prime job order contractor for the project, and Parsons Brinckerhoff. The bridges can reportedly support a load of 260,000 lb (118 metric tonnes) and are approximately 12.2m/40 ft and 24.4m/80 ft long.

According to Axion, the capital cost is less than conventional concrete, steel or wood bridges. The composite bridges also require less maintenance while being more environmentally friendly. Parsons Brinkerhoff’s Vijay Chandra, principal-in-charge for the design of the two railroad bridges, offered his own perspective: “RSC material meets the country’s need for green, sustainable and durable competitive products, which are highly competitive initially and on a life cycle cost basis.”

The RSC system involves both plastic formulations and structural engineering design. The plastic is made by combining polystyrene and high-density polyethylene (two polymers that are ordinarily incompatible) in a melt blend, with fibers and nanoparticles in a proprietary blending process to achieve structural strength exceeding that of either polymer. The polymers come primarily from recycled plastic milk and laundry detergent bottles and automobile bumpers, says the company. Structural I-beams, railroad ties, and other components can be economically and effectively fabricated via extrusion. For the Ft. Eustis bridges, structural elements included 12-inch/3.7m diameter pilings and I-beams made by bolting two T-beams together, says Tom Nosker of Rutgers’ AMIPP’s group: “It would be difficult to cast an I-beam in one piece because of the way hot thermoplastic contracts upon cooling while still locked in a mold. The T-beam design proved feasible and structurally sound.”

Read about the design of Axion’s first RSC bridge in “Engineering Insights: Tough I-beam bridge for tank traffic,” link at right.

 

Learn More

Editor's Picks

Editor's Picks

Axion to supply resin for composite storage containers

The composite containers are being developed jointly by Innovative Composites International, whic...

Axion to produce bridge composites using recycled plastics

The $957,000 contract calls for use of recycled plastics in composites to replace two bridges at ...

Tough I-beam bridge for tank traffic

Immiscible polymer blending combines the strength of HDPE and the stiffness of glass-reinforced P...


Channel Partners