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In a number of construction projects, Huntsman Advanced Materials has supported Acciona, a provider of infrastructure development, in the specification of resins and structural adhesives.

As a result of this partnership, Acciona invited Huntsman to be part of the HP Future-Bridge project.

Co-funded by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme of Research, this project ran from October 2006 to September 2009.

The overall objective of the HP Future-Bridge project was to develop a high-performance and cost-effective construction concept for bridges based on the application of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers (FRP) to effectively compete against conventional bridges made from concrete and steel.

Within the consortium, Huntsman played a key advisory role, sharing knowledge and expertise on maximising the potential of carbon composite bridge designs with structural adhesives and resins.

In a recent project, Acciona has been working with Huntsman to construct a composite pedestrian bridge in Madrid, over the Manzaneres River.

Because it was to be erected over a river, the bridge needed to be made from one monolithic single piece.

The challenge therefore lay in designing a load-bearing, jointless, single structure that was also light enough to meet the transportation, logistics and installation requirements defined for the project.

As the installation site was in the city centre, space limitations and the need to limit disruption meant the constructors were allowed a maximum of four hours to mount the bridge onsite.

It was imperative that the bridge was designed to be as lightweight as possible.

To achieve a weight that would assist Acciona with meeting the installation timescales while realising high levels of endurance and performance in constructing the single, jointless 44m-long bridge beam, the engineers used a range of Araldite products.

Araldite LY 1564/Aradur 3486, which is specifically designed for thick-laminates manufacturing, was tested in the preliminary infusion trials and then used in the production of the single beam through an injection-infusion process.

Offering physical properties such as low viscosity, the long pot life of 520-620min at 23C also proved particularly beneficial in producing large sections of the beam in a time-effective manner.

Araldite LY3505/XB 3403 and XB 3404-1, a composite resin system designed for the production of high-performance composite parts and moulds using a wet lay-up process has been used to fill and reinforce the prefabricated ribs of the bridge.

The ribs have been bonded to the beam with Araldite AW 4856/HW 4856, an epoxy adhesive system with enhanced toughness, chemical thixotropy and low exotherm for large composite parts.

Its physical properties allow usage in applications requiring load-bearing strength and excellent adhesion under adverse application conditions.

Heat and chemical resistance offered by this system adds to the anti-corrosive properties of the single beam.

These features make composite bridges better suited for installation in locations that experience adverse weather conditions in comparison to their conventional counterparts.

From the initial fibre placement through to the demoulding and finishing processes it took a total 30 days to manufacture the bridge.

This is said to be the first time in the history of the composites industry that a 44m-long, 3.5m-wide, structural load-bearing bridge beam has been built utilising 12 tonnes of carbon fibre.

The surface of the beam is said to be smoother and more aesthetically pleasing than a steel or concrete bridge.

In offering corrosion resistance, less maintenance and no painting is required.

If the pedestrian bridge had been made from concrete or steel, this would have resulted in an extremely heavy beam weighing at least 50 tonnes, whereas the carbon composite beam is only 25 tonnes.

The bridge was installed in less than two hours using a 75-tonne crane.

By comparison, steel and concrete bridges typically take a minimum of six hours to install, using a 300-tonne crane.

The significant weight saving created by the single composite beam allows smaller cranes to be used, providing an easier, faster and more economic installation process.

Because no joints, assembly or high-capability cranes are needed for either installation or maintenance, not only does the single beam afford more architectural freedom in design, it also reduces onsite plant requirements and opens up installation opportunities in a host of different locations.

The footbridge opened at the end of 2010 and is now used by approximately 1,500 people on a daily basis.

Acciona is currently constructing a 200m-long single-beam bridge in Cuenca (Spain).

The company also has plans to further explore the usage of composites in construction across Europe, with a longer-term view to undertake similar projects on a global scale.

Huntsman Advanced Materials

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