Our experience of FRP bridges and FRP composite structures has been accrued over more than a decade and includes the recent completion of one of Europe’s largest FRP bridge projects at Bromley Heath Viaduct in Gloucestershire.
Historically, FRP has been used extensively in many industries such as automotive, aeronautical, marine, energy, off-shore and in many different applications and is perhaps lesser known for its capability as a very useful building material in construction and civil engineering.
Civils Asset Owners are under increasing budget pressure and are constantly looking at opportunities to reduce capital and maintenance costs, and FRP whilst it may sometimes be more expensive than traditional building materials at point of purchase, when costs of installation are considered FRP often works out to be more costs effective often requiring smaller cranes for larger components or no crane at all for smaller components.
As FRP use increases, costs will reduce as one off tooling for larger items can be spread across numerous projects.
When whole life cost is taken into consideration, the reduced maintenance costs associated with FRP significantly reinforce the cost effectiveness of this advance material.
The main advantages of using FRP are that its lightweight, has high strength to weight ratio, doesn’t corrode, suitable for use in aggressive environments, non-conductive and maintenance is low when compared to other building materials.
Additionally, FRP materials offer civils designers the advantages of high stiffness-to-weight and high strength-to-weight ratios when compared to conventional construction materials such as steel and reinforced concrete. FRP can be pre-formed into complete structural units, thus reducing construction time on site.
APB have used FRP in numerous civil engineering projects and as well as having developed close working relationships with FRP material suppliers they also have in-house expertise and knowledge of the latest developments in the use of FRP in civil engineering, and have presented numerous technical papers at international conferences relating to this experience.
The APB team have experience and input into existing and soon to be published design guidance relating to FRP Bridges.
APB used FRP rock bolts to install pattern netting and bolting to unlined rock tunnels in North Wales for Network Rail, and on numerous other projects on a smaller scale.
APB have also installed new FRP decking, stairs and parapets on numerous footbridge refurbishment projects, replacing life expired timber or steel construction components with new modern lightweight materials that require minimal maintenance.
APB have used FRP for ballast retention boards on a number of rail under-bridge reconstructions for Network Rail projects, a popular use of this type of material.
Most recently, APB have completed the largest FRP pedestrian/cycle-way project in Europe at Bromley Heath Viaduct in Bristol. The FRP structure was used to widen the existing viaduct and segregate pedestrians and cyclists from vehicular traffic. More than 600 pultrude FRP profiles supplied by Fiberline in Denmark were bonded together is our factory into 18 panels before being delivered to site for installation. All works were carried out by our in-house trained and experienced workforce.
Other uses for FRP in civil engineering that APB have considered are tunnel shaft linings, culvert linings, railway station platform construction, various bridge coping projects and vehicular bridge decks.
For vehicle carrying bridges in the UK reinforced concrete or steel is the norm. FRP bridges can be provided as complete bridges in fully moulded units, and have particular applications in deck replacement on existing structures, where corrosion resistance and speed of installation are important.
APB are able to offer a one stop shop to design, fabricate and install FRP structures as well as advise clients and asset owners about the most suitable approach to individual projects dependent upon constraints.
Because FRP is seen as a novel material by some people, and because design standards are not as recognised as those of more traditional materials, there is usually a requirement to carry out testing as part of a project. These tests can include pre fabrication testing, as well as in fabrication and post fabrication testing. The team at APB have extensive experience of testing requirements and have close working relationships with specialist FRP testing houses and University testing facilities both in the UK and mainland Europe.
Most importantly when delivering civil engineering solutions in FRP, an early contractor involvement and collaborative approach will always provide the client with the best engineering and most cost effective.