In an exclusive interview in the UK’s national newspaper, The Telegraph, Chris Hendy, head of bridge design for WS Atkins, reveals details of what is believed to be the first ever bridge in the country to be constructed using carbon-fibre.
The 8-metre bridge will be installed later this year in the rural village of Frampton Cotterell in Gloucestershire and is to span a drainage channel. Further details about the bridge will be released once it is in place and open to the public.
Hendy tells The Telegraph that “while the composite materials – which are made from layers of compounds bound together in moulds with resin to produce extremely strong but light materials – have been around in other sectors for some time” – namely in aerospace and Formula 1 – “they have yet to make the leap into civil construction”.
The article explains that although using composites can be almost twice as expensive as traditional bridge materials, they do not corrode as concrete and steel do, so maintenance costs over the lifespan of the bridge are dramatically reduced. According to The Telegraph, western Europe spends 5 billion euros (£4.1 billion) every year on fixing corrosion on infrastructure.
Hendy goes on to say that composite technology could also cross into other new areas such as non-rusting oil rigs. However, he concludes the interview by stating, “We’re not saying make the whole world out of composites. Just where it’s most efficient.”