When you conjure up images of the most famous bridges in the world, a few classic examples will no doubt spring to mind. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge, London Bridge, and Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. These are the bridges that have stood the test of time. Become iconic. They’re also examples of bridges that have relied on the classic building materials in bridge construction – namely steel and concrete.
But today, new types of materials are being used in bridge construction. Carbon Fibre is one such example. It’s known for being incredibly strong yet lightweight. For those reasons it makes the perfect construction material for bridges. It is frequently used to bolster the strength of existing bridges, but more and more it has integrated into a number of original designs.
Here are 3 such examples of bridges around the world that have used carbon fibre in their construction.
Aizhai suspension bridge – Hunan province, China.
As far as bridges go, Aizhai suspension bridge is an impressive one. It was officially opened on 31st March 2012 after taking 4 years to construct. The bridge, a single crossing suspension bridge, was constructed by Hunan Road Bridge Group. It spans the region’s vast Aizhai Grand Canyon, connecting Hunan Jishou to Cha Dong highway.
Aizhai suspension bridge boasts some pretty impressive numbers. The bridge’s length is a monumental 1176 metres, it proudly stands 335 metres from the canyon floor, and the width of the bridge deck is an impressive 24.5 meters.
The use of carbon fibre plays a vital part in the bridge with its rock anchor sling and rock anchor base both being made of the material.
Bridge Street Bridge – Michigan, USA.
Bridge Street Bridge was constructed back in 2003 by a team of researchers based at Lawrence Technical University. It’s claim to fame? It was the first bridge in the USA to be built using carbon fibre reinforced polymers.
These carbon fibre elements serve a variety of strengthening functions, including their use for non-tensioned reinforcement and non-prestressing carbon fibre cloth composite cable strands.
Eleven years after its construction, the bridge has proven to be an excellent example of how carbon fibre can be intelligently integrated into modern design, ensuring significant durability that will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
West Mill Bridge – Oxfordshire, England.
West Mill Bridge in Oxfordshire took just 30 minutes to be lifted into place. It is also a mere 10 metres long. But its straightforward positioning and diminutive features should not take anything away from its status.
In fact, West Mill Bridge is generally regarded as one of the most advanced highway bridges anywhere in Europe. So although at first glance it may not be the most visually-striking bridge, it can claim to be truly innovative thanks to its reliance on modern construction materials.
It made use of carbon fibre reinforced polymers in its four main supporting beams, ensuring increased durability and strength within its loadbearing capabilities.
While using carbon fibre can work out to be twice as expensive compared to more traditional materials, it proves its worth thanks to the increased level of durability it offers, and the subsequent lack of maintenance work required in future years.
With an increasing awareness of such benefits, carbon fibre will undoubtedly become more commonly used as a material for bridge construction. While it is often used in modern construction as a way of adding support along with other materials, there are increasing signs that the bridges of the future may indeed rely far more heavily on carbon fibre alone in their design.
One such example is to be built later this year in England. An 8-metre footbridge is planned for construction in the village of Frampton Cotterell in Gloucestershire. The bridge is thought to be the very first in England to be built using carbon fibre, perhaps prompting future developments to follow suit.