FCC-filled, carbon-fiber tube bridge system gains DOT, ASCE traction

A carbon fiber reinforced polymer composite arch tube product—pumped with ready mixed on site and geared to 20- to 80-ft. span bridges—has landed the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2011 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation. Dubbed Bridge-in-a-Backpack by Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT), the 12- or 15-in.-diameter FRP tubes bear ⅜-in. aggregate mixes with superplasticizers dosed to impart self-consolidating, concrete-level spread characteristics. As superstructure components, the hardened tubes provide what engineers note are corrosion protection and external concrete reinforcement in lieu of conventional rebar.

Bridge-in-a-Backpack was developed at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and is being commercialized globally by Orono, Maine-based AIT. “We believe new technologies are critical to replacing deficient infrastructure with a more cost effective, longer lasting product compared to traditional construction,” says Executive V.P. Barry Raeburn. “Our hybrid composite-concrete bridge technology can save money, reduce fabrication timelines, lessen transportation costs, accelerate bridge construction, and reduce maintenance costs.”

The Charles Pankow Award reinforces positive marketplace response, he adds, with the FRP arch bridge method gaining acceptance in the Northeast on the strength of eight Maine and Massachusetts installations. Bridge-in-a-Backpack was honored during the ASCE Outstanding Projects and Leaders Awards Gala earlier this spring in Washington, D.C. Named for a driving force in precast and cast-in-place methods as well as design-build project delivery, the award recognizes collaboration in innovative design, materials, or construction-related research and development transferred into practice.