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Deakin researchers design maintenance-free bridge

Deakin University researchers have designed a pedestrian bridge for a North Geelong park using a new type of reinforced concrete that requires no maintenance.

The bridge over Cowies Greek at Deppeler Park in Melbourne, will be made from sustainable concrete with carbon and glass fibre reinforcement, which researchers believe will require no maintenance over its 100 year life span.

Engineering firm Austeng won the tender to build two pedestrian bridges for the City of Greater Geelong, which the researchers designed.

Dr. Mahbube Subhani and Dr. Kazem Ghabraie, Deakin researchers, are behind the design.

Dr. Subhani said the new design would avoid the usual problem of corrosion that occurs in conventional steel reinforced concrete construction.

“We have replaced the steel reinforcing bar normally used in steel reinforced concrete with more durable carbon and glass fibre reinforced polymer,” Dr. Subhani said.

He said structures with steel reinforcing bars usually require maintenance about every five years and major rehabilitation every 20 years.

Carbon and glass fibre reinforced polymer is stronger and five times lighter than reinforced steel.

It also requires much less energy to produce, Mr. Subhani says it uses just 25 per cent of the energy required to produce steel.

The beam was cast by geopolymer concrete manufacturer, Rocla, and pre-testing has already shown the bridge can successfully carry the design load.

The City Of Greater Geelong maintains about 160 recreational bridges and that number is growing through subdivision development.

Dr Subhani and his design team hope that their environmentally sustainable maintenance-free bridge becomes a potential candidate for new and replacement bridges throughout the city.

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