US Army tests plastic rail bridge

A railway bridge made from recycled plastic has supported a 120-tonne locomotive in initial tests for the US Army.

The bridge is one of two that Axion International Holdings is building at Fort Eustis, Virginia, home of the US Army Transportation Corps. Designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff, the structures use Axion’s patented Recycled Structural Composite (RSC), a thermoplastic solution consisting of nearly 100 per cent recycled post-consumer and industrial plastic. Initial field test results confirm design criteria requirements.

The short-span bridges extend approximately 12 and 24 metres respectively and are both designed to deliver a high-load rating of 130 tonnes, which is necessary in order to transport locomotives and freight.

Axion chief executive James Kerstein said: "Not only is this bridge able to support the weight of a 120-tonne locomotive, but it was also less expensive to build than one using steel, concrete or wood." RSC solutions are nearly maintenance-free and eco-friendly, he added.

Axion developed the material in conjunction with scientists at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

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