Feeds

Bridge made of recycled plastic supports 70-ton tank

'Concrete, steel, timber - last-generation stuff'

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Vid The US Army, seeking to embiggen its green image, has proudly announced the building of the world's first bridge made from recycled plastic and able to support heavy loads. To test the recycloplast bridge, troops drove a monster 70-ton Abrams Main Battle Tank across it.

“This represents a ‘first of its kind’ event in terms of how we partnered with industry, the R&D community and government in looking for sustainable solutions to infrastructure challenges,” said Colonel Stephen J Sicinski during the dedication ceremony last week.

“What better way to commemorate this, than with a recycled plastic bridge that is going to hold an M1 Abrams Tank.”

The M1 Abrams is one of the heaviest main battle tanks - and therefore one of the heaviest ground vehicles - in current service, with modern examples generally tipping the scales at over 70 tons. The mighty machine is powered by a 1500 horsepower gas turbine and features heavy depleted-uranium armour plate - with an outer facing of explosive slabs on upgraded tanks, intended to disrupt the armour-piercing plasma jets formed by shaped charge warheads or roadside mines.

The M1's use of old uranium from nuclear powerplants is one kind of recycling, but the new bridges built at the US Army's Fort Bragg training centre are another. Made from high-strength thermoplastic processed out of 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles and suchlike, they are described by their makers as "the first known structures of their type to support loads in excess of 70 tons".

The recycloplast bridges are also said to be corrosion resistant compared to other bridge materials, meaning that they need almost no maintenance. Steel structures typically need regular repainting and inspection to guard against rust: timber needs expensive and potentially troublesome coatings or treatments. Procurement officials estimated that there would be a 34 to 1 return on the extra expense of the plastic bridges from reduced maintenance costs.

The recyclothermoplast material comes from makers Axion International, who developed it in cooperation with boffins at Rutgers University. The firm sees it as taking on many structural and building tasks in coming years, replacing "last-generation materials, such as wood, steel or concrete". ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.