Researchers in Northern Ireland report promising results from a demonstration project that used rods made with basalt fibers to reinforce a 22-meter-long concrete-deck section of a $1.5-million replacement bridge in County Fermanagh. The mineral material, which resists corrosion and has twice the tensile strength of steel, is not yet accredited for structural use in the U.K.
In addition to testing the basalt-fiber-reinforced polymer (BFRP), the project is a demonstration of compressive membrane analysis in deck design, says Susan Taylor, a senior structural-engineering lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast, which secured a $160,000 grant from the U.K. Dept. for Transport for the demonstration. The method takes into account the arching behavior within restrained slabs, which enhances load capacity beyond that predicted using conventional flexural theory, she says.