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Report
The World’s First Thermoplastic
Bridges made of Recycled Plastics
John S. Kim, PhD, PE, Senior Professional Associate, Parsons Brinckerhoff
October 10, 2013
U.S. Highway Bridges
• 600,000 highway bridges in U.S.
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One third of them built immediately after World War II
The use of deicing material
Increased traffic volume and weight
Structurally deficient or functionally obsolete
Bridges in Trouble
• $229 billion bridge issue
 When people in ties and suites frequently appear
under the bridges, it means a serious business!
 60 percent of 600,000 US highway bridges are shortspan bridges.
Why Recycled Plastic?
• Plastic waste: global issue
 100 million tons each year worldwide
 Hard to degrade
 Recycled plastics are hardly reused.
• Enhanced properties from constant R&D
• Collective efforts for green solutions
 Governments’ incentives on the use of green products
From Wasteful to Useful
Thermoplastic Composite
 Recycled Plastic
 Immiscible Polymer Blend
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High Density Polyethylene with Polystyrene or Polypropylene coated
glass fibers
Product Advantages
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Green Product (Recycled Plastic)
No Corrosion, Rotting or Insect Infestation
Reduced Landfill Dumping
Good Toughness Characteristics
No Chemical Additives
Green House Gas Savings
Reduced Maintenance
Sustainable & Durable
Cost Competitive: Initial and Life Cycle
Thermoplastic Properties
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Weight: 55pcf (Wood: 60pcf; Concrete: 150pcf; Steel: 490pcf)
Specific Gravity: 0.85 – 0.90
Elastic Modulus: 350,000 psi
Allowable Flexural Stress: 600 psi (Ult. = 3,000 psi)
Allowable Compressive Stress: 600 psi (Ult. = 2,500 to 4,300 psi)
Allowable Shear Stress: 350 psi (Ult. = 1,500 psi)
Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: 0.0000282 in/in/deg F
Typical Stress/Strain Curve
Design Considerations
 Ultraviolet Degradation: Less than 0.003 inches/year
(in full sun exposure)
 Moisture Absorption: Virtually impervious, retains
properties in humid and wet environments
 Thermal Resistance: Heat deflection temperature is
125 deg C and material viable to -125 deg C
 Environmental Resistance: Resistant to attack by
marine borers, insects, rot and corrosion
 Acid Resistance: Resistant to most acids and salts
Design Considerations (Cont’d)
 Creep: High Factor of Safety with respect to Ultimate
Stress lowers creep considerably
 Abrasion: Highly Resistant to salts and sand
occurring in Marine environments
 Skid Resistance: Coefficient of Friction = 0.5 with
Tire (can be improved with surface texturing)
 Abutment Backfill: Prefer light weight material
 Color: Basic color is Graphite but can be produced
in Gray, Beige, etc.
Fire Retardant Testing
Bridge
Applications
Fort Leonard Wood, MO
W = 26 ft; L = 24 ft
Max Load = 25,000 lbs.
1998
Wharton State Forest, NJ
* Length - 56 feet
* Live Load - HS 20
2002
Fort Bragg, NC
Load Bearing Capability
M1 Abrams Tank on the Bridge
2009
Fort Bragg Construction
Driving RSPC piles
Pile Cap Installation
World’s First Railroad Bridges
Fort Eustis, Virginia
2010
Bridge No. 3
Bridge No. 7
World’s First Railroad Bridges
Fort Eustis, Virginia
Bridges No. 3 and No. 7
 Live Load: Cooper E60 and 260 Kip alternate loading with
20% impact
 Deflection: L/600
 Length of Piles: about 45 feet
 Capacity of piles: 17 – 20 tons in end bearing per Pile
 Abutments: Existing timber abutments retained
 RSPC Elements: Railroad ties, curbs, girders, shear blocks,
pier caps, piles and transverse connectors
Fort Eustis, VA
Typical Section
Fort Eustis Construction
Splicing
Driving RSPC Piles
Pile Cap Installation
Fort Eustis Construction
Storage
Transportation
Installation
Fort Eustis, VA
Competed Bridge No. 3
Fort Eustis, VA
Completed Bridge No. 7
Live Load Testing
Fort Eustis, VA
Deflections
Estimated Deflection = 0.25”
Measured Deflection = 0.21”
Bridge No. 3
Estimated Deflection = 0.32”
Measured Deflection = 0.29”
Bridge No. 7
Scotland Highway Bridges
2011
Scotland Highway Bridges
Scotland Highway Bridges
Scotland Highway Bridges
Maine Highway Bridge
2011
Maine Highway Bridge
Before - 3 ft Culvert
After - 13 ft Bridge
Maine Highway Bridge
Abutment Backfilling
Piles and Pier Cap
Ohio Highway Bridge
Exiting Bridge-Deteriorated Superstructure
Ohio Highway Bridge
New Bridge-Plan View
Ohio Highway Bridge
New Bridge - Elevation
Ohio Highway Bridge
Typical Section
Ohio Highway Bridge
Pile Driving
Ohio Highway Bridge
Beam Installation
Ohio Highway Bridge
Deck Installation
Ohio Highway Bridge
Opened in December 2012
Other
Applications
Railroad Ties and Switch Set
Retaining Walls
Sound Walls
More Applications
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Marinas
Fenders
Jetties and Piers
Platforms and Boardwalks
Temporary Reusable Bridges
Culverts
Acknowledgement
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Producer:
Designer:
Inventor:
Axion International, Inc.
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Rutgers University
Conclusions
Green, Sustainable and Durable
Environmentally Beneficial
Vast Areas of Application
Accelerated Construction
Minimal Maintenance
Cost Competitive
Questions?

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