Building better bridges

BASF has signed a co-operation agreement with the British-Canadian company Intelligent Engineering Ltd for the further development of Sandwich Plate Systems for the civil engineering market.

BASF has signed a co-operation agreement with the British-Canadian company Intelligent Engineering Ltd. (IE) for further development of Sandwich Plate Systems (SPS). SPS technology, jointly developed by BASF Group company Elastogran and IE, is becoming established in the shipbuilding industry for the repair and construction of ship segments.

New SPS applications for the civil engineering market are now being developed and an SPS licensee has already completed an initial reference project with the construction of a road bridge in Canada.

“We responded to the needs of our customers in the construction industry,” said Dr. John Feldmann, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF Aktiengesellschaft, explaining the background to the new application for the material. “Our intention was to develop a genuine alternative to conventional steel bridge construction that would be more cost-effective and of the highest quality. We achieved precisely that with SPS.”

Because of their sandwich structure – steel-polyurethane-steel – SPS components are much less susceptible to corrosion than conventional constructions. SPS structures are also lighter and faster to build and also offer built-in protection against fire and vibration.

In the case of the road bridge, built by SPS licensee Canam Manac Group Inc., in Saint Martin de Beauce, Quebec, Canada, SPS reduced the weight of the 22 meter bridge deck by 60 percent compared with concrete.

“Our SPS polyurethane is extremely stable and does not become brittle with age. This makes SPS structures more durable than conventional solutions,” said Georg Knoblauch, who is in charge of SPS technology development at Elastogran.

Elastogran and Intelligent Engineering are also collaborating on other applications where the material properties of the patented technology can be utilised, such as in sports stadiums.

“SPS bleachers or stands are 70 percent lighter than conventional concrete structures and are very effective at absorbing the vibrations induced when thousands of fans jump to their feet to celebrate a goal,” explained Knoblauch. This weight saving may also help in the design of earthquake-resistant buildings.