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The World’s First Thermoplastic
Bridges made of Recycled Plastics

John S. Kim
, PhD, PE, Senior Professional Associate, Parsons Brinckerhoff



October 10, 2013

U.S. Highway Bridges


600,000 highway bridges in U.S.


One third of them built immediately after World War II


The use of deicing material


Increased traffic volume and weight


Structurally deficient or functionally obsolete

Bridges in Trouble


$229 billion bridge issue


When people in ties and suites frequently appear
under the bridges, it means a serious business!


60 percent of 600,000 US highway bridges are short
-
span bridges.


Why Recycled Plastic?


Plastic waste: global issue


100 million tons each year worldwide


Hard to degrade


Recycled plastics are hardly reused.


Enhanced properties from constant R&D


Collective efforts for green solutions


Governments’ incentives on the use of green products



From Wasteful to Useful


Recycled Plastic


Immiscible Polymer Blend


High Density Polyethylene with Polystyrene or Polypropylene coated
glass fibers

Thermoplastic Composite

Product Advantages


Green Product (Recycled Plastic)


No Corrosion, Rotting or Insect Infestation


Reduced Landfill Dumping


Good Toughness Characteristics


No Chemical Additives


Green House Gas Savings


Reduced Maintenance


Sustainable & Durable


Cost Competitive: Initial and Life Cycle


Thermoplastic Properties


Weight: 55pcf (Wood: 60pcf; Concrete: 150pcf; Steel: 490pcf)


Specific Gravity: 0.85


0.90


Elastic Modulus: 350,000 psi


Allowable Flexural Stress: 600 psi (Ult. = 3,000 psi)


Allowable Compressive Stress: 600 psi (Ult. = 2,500 to 4,300 psi)


Allowable Shear Stress: 350 psi (Ult. = 1,500 psi)


Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: 0.0000282 in/in/deg F


Typical Stress/Strain Curve

Design Considerations


Ultraviolet Degradation: Less than 0.003 inches/year
(in full sun exposure)


Moisture Absorption: Virtually impervious, retains
properties in humid and wet environments


Thermal Resistance: Heat deflection temperature is
125 deg C and material viable to
-
125 deg C


Environmental Resistance: Resistant to attack by
marine borers, insects, rot and corrosion


Acid Resistance: Resistant to most acids and salts


Design Considerations
(Cont’d)


Creep: High Factor of Safety with respect to Ultimate
Stress lowers creep considerably


Abrasion: Highly Resistant to salts and sand
occurring in Marine environments


Skid Resistance: Coefficient of Friction = 0.5 with
Tire (can be improved with surface texturing)


Abutment Backfill: Prefer light weight material


Color: Basic color is Graphite but can be produced
in Gray, Beige, etc.


Fire

Retardant Testing

Bridge
Applications

Fort Leonard Wood, MO

W = 26 ft; L = 24 ft

Max Load = 25,000 lbs.

1998

Wharton State Forest, NJ

* Length
-

56 feet

* Live Load
-

HS 20

2002

Fort Bragg, NC

Load Bearing Capability

M1 Abrams Tank on the Bridge

2009

Fort Bragg Construction

Driving RSPC piles

Pile Cap Installation

World’s First Railroad Bridges

Fort Eustis, Virginia

Bridge No. 3

Bridge No. 7

2010

World’s First Railroad Bridges

Fort Eustis, Virginia


Bridges No. 3 and No. 7



Live Load: Cooper E60 and 260 Kip alternate loading with
20% impact


Deflection: L/600


Length of Piles: about 45 feet


Capacity of piles: 17


20 tons in end bearing per Pile


Abutments: Existing timber abutments retained


RSPC Elements: Railroad ties, curbs, girders, shear blocks,
pier caps, piles and transverse connectors

Fort Eustis, VA

Typical Section

Driving RSPC Piles

Splicing

Pile Cap Installation

Fort Eustis Construction

Transportation

Installation

Storage

Fort Eustis Construction

Fort Eustis, VA

Competed Bridge No. 3

Fort Eustis, VA

Completed Bridge No. 7

Live Load Testing

Estimated

Deflection = 0.25”


Measured

Deflection = 0.21”

Estimated

Deflection = 0.32”


Measured

Deflection = 0.29”

Bridge No. 3

Bridge No. 7

Fort Eustis, VA

Deflections

Scotland
Highway Bridges

2011

Scotland
Highway Bridges

Scotland
Highway Bridges

Scotland
Highway Bridges

Maine
Highway Bridge

2011

Maine
Highway Bridge

Before
-

3 ft Culvert

After
-

13 ft Bridge

Maine
Highway Bridge

Abutment Backfilling

Piles and Pier Cap

Ohio Highway Bridge

Exiting Bridge
-
Deteriorated Superstructure

Ohio Highway Bridge

New Bridge
-
Plan View

Ohio Highway Bridge

New Bridge
-

Elevation

Ohio Highway Bridge

Typical Section

Ohio Highway Bridge

Pile Driving

Ohio Highway Bridge

Beam Installation

Ohio Highway Bridge

Deck Installation

Ohio Highway Bridge

Opened in December 2012

Other
Applications

Railroad Ties and Switch Set

Retaining Walls


Sound Walls

More Applications


Marinas


Fenders


Jetties and Piers


Platforms and Boardwalks


Temporary Reusable Bridges


Culverts

Acknowledgement



Producer:

Axion International, Inc.



Designer:

Parsons Brinckerhoff



Inventor: Rutgers University

Conclusions


Green, Sustainable and Durable


Environmentally Beneficial


Vast Areas of Application


Accelerated Construction


Minimal Maintenance


Cost Competitive

Questions?