A special bridge was opened at the Floriade on Friday, April 22nd. This fifteen-metre long connection is mainly made of flax, an almost forgotten crop with sustainable properties. The Smart Circular Bridge is also used to collect data for various potential structures.
Biocomposites offer a great opportunity for the construction industry. The materials have enormous potential for a bio-based circular economy. Flax is a raw material that was traditionally mainly used for clothing, bags and ship ropes. Now, these plant fibres can become the building material of the future. One of the advantages is that flax – compared to wood – is a fast-growing plant. In combination with a special bio-resin, a light and stable material is created with properties comparable to aluminium or steel.
Recycling – biodiesel and PET bottles
The first Smart Circular Bridge in Almere uses about 3.2 tons of flax fibre. The fibres woven into mats are impregnated with a polyester resin. In this first Smart Circular Bridge, 25% of this resin is based on biomass. The aim for the coming bridges is to increase this part to around 60%. To this end, waste products from the production of biodiesel and recycled PET bottles are used.
Continuous monitoring – how strong is the bridge?
The bridge is monitored in real time. Nearly 100 sensors in the bridge provide data on the behaviour of the material. How does the construction behave when 200 people walk on it at the same time? Acceleration sensors detect the finest vibrations, caused by use or, for example, wind. The data can be found on the public website dashboard.smartcircularbridge.eu. The data is used for further development. Teams are currently already researching facade elements in biocomposite material. Rotor blades of wind turbines are also conceivable.
Collaboration – education, government and business
The first Smart Circular Bridge was realized by an international consortium of fifteen partners. The project team consists of five universities, seven innovative companies and three municipalities. It is led by the Eindhoven University of Technology. Two more “Smart Circular bridges” for pedestrians and cyclists will follow in 2022 and 2023 in Ulm, Germany and Bergen op Zoom.