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Fiber Reinforced Polymers: The Future of Concrete Infrastructure

The University of Miami (UM), Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Astaldi Construction Corporation hosted a forum, workshop and visit in Tampa and Homosassa, Florida, to promote, discuss and exhibit sustainable concrete structures that utilize fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) instead of steel reinforcements.

FRPs are an innovative approach to combat one of the prime causes of concrete-structure failure: the deterioration of reinforced and pre-stressed steel within concrete. Made from various types of fibers, such as glass (GFRP) or carbon (CFRP), FRPs have a greater tensile strength than steel, while weighing only a quarter as much.

On the morning of May 3, UM hosted a forum to provide an update on the outcomes of a current research project titled “SEACON – Sustainable concrete using seawater, salt-contaminated aggregates, and non-corrosive reinforcement.” More than 35 attendees from academia, industry, FDOT and FHWA participated in this event. The forum was streamed live and can be seen here.

FDOT hosted a workshop on the Halls River Bridge replacement, providing an opportunity for training by showing practical implementation of design and material criteria to effectively leverage benefits from FRP materials. The Halls River Bridge replacement follows UM’s Innovation Bridge, a 70-foot-long bridge at the University’s Coral Gables campus that serves as quantifiable proof of FRPs used to create a structure that is cost-effective and, most importantly, corrosion-free.

Astaldi Construction Corporation, the general contractor for the Halls River Bridge, hosted a site visit for the participants of the forum and workshop. Thomas Cadenazzi, a PhD student at UM – deployed at the bridge site as part of his dissertation – explains that, “The problem with the existing bridges is the corrosion of the structure itself.” Click here to view the interview.

UM’s SEACON research project is one of nine projects funded by Infravation, an infrastructure innovation program. As many transport ministries across the world are facing challenges to cope with the need to accommodate increased traffic growth, minimize congestion and maintain services in the face of increasing climate-change effects.

FHWA hosted “Technology Readiness Level Assessment of Infravation Program Project.” This meeting was the first of nine (one of each of the projects funded by Infravation). The FHWA-led panel met with SEACON’s principal investigator, Antonio Nanni – a professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering – and other researchers. Click here to view Nanni’s interview about the importance of GFRP reinforcement in sustainable construction. Additionally, Moretza Khatibmasjedi, a graduate research associate in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, conducted an interview about the SEACON project can be viewed by clicking here.

To read more about SEACON research and its objectives, please click here.

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