Plastic Potential

by Paul Tarricone, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 8, Pg. 62-63

Document Type: Feature article


Some 220,000 tons of epoxy-coated steel has been used in the construction of bridge decks since 1987, but some have raised questions about its long-term durability. New materials for prestressing and reinforcing concrete may be implemented, one being fiber reinforced plastic (FRP), in the form of rebar or prestressing cables. Advocates of FRP materials (also known as composites) have long pointed to their resistance to corrosion, strength, fatigue life, durability, lighter weight compared to steel, ease of transport and handling, and long-term life-cycle advantages. Niche-specific civil applications include the use of FRP to reinforce concrete in a hospital's magnetic resonance imaging test chamber, where steel would interfere with its magnetic field, and in the concrete of guideways for magnetic levitation trains, again to exploit its electromagnetic neutrality. But the potential applications for FRP extend to concrete parking garages, piers and other waterfront structures, locks and dams, and bridge decks. At least three projects will be constructed within the next year: two as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Productivity Advancement Research program and the third through funding provided by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which may provide insight into FRP's potential, in terms of both structural performance and cost-effectiveness.

Subject Headings: Fiber reinforced polymer | Bridge decks | Reinforced concrete | Cables | Fiber reinforced concrete | Magnetic levitation trains | Plastics | Steel construction

Services: Buy this book/Buy this article


Return to search