LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 6, 2011) — Repairing and strengthening damaged bridge beams could be as easy as putting up wallpaper. Well, almost as easy if you use “CatStrong” carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer rod panels (CRP) developed at the University of Kentucky's College of Engineering.
Issam Harik, Raymond-Blythe Professor of Civil Engineering and Program Manager at the Kentucky Transportation Center at UK, is leading the team of researchers that developed the novel product, called “CatStrong CRP”, with funding by the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation.
Harik said, "CatStrong is the product of years of experience in laboratory testing and deploying advanced high performance materials in bridges. Its primary objective is to reduce the repair costs by reducing the work hours required to strengthen a concrete structural member in bridges and buildings." He added, "CatStrong panels are small and lightweight enough that a single worker can install them in a short time." (Refer to Figure 1 for additional information).
This week, Harik and his team have teamed up with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KyTC) District 7 bridge team and are expected to attach the CatStrong CRP80 to repair and strengthen a damaged concrete bridge beam over the Blue Grass Parkway in Anderson County (Figures 2 and 3). The beam has been impacted by over-the-height trucks, resulting in spalling of concrete cover and damage to embedded reinforcing steel. In addition to applying CatStrong CRP80 to strengthen the beam in place of the damaged reinforcing bars, the repaired section of the beam will be wrapped in 3-directional carbon fabric to prevent concrete chunks from falling on cars passing under the bridge in case of future impacts.
CatStrong CRP80, which will be installed on the bridge over Blue Grass Parkway, can resist 82,500 pounds of force per 1-ft wide section. The CRP80 panels weigh 2.9 ounces per square foot. One square foot of CatStrong CRP80 is equivalent to a square foot of A36 steel that is 0.12 inches thick and weighs 4.85 pounds (or more than 25 times the weight of CRP80).
CatStrong CRP80 panels are made with small diameter carbon fiber rods produced by Diversified Structural Composites in Erlanger, KY. The panels for the bridge over the Blue Grass Parkway are assembled by students at the UK College of Engineering.
The first application of CatStrong CRP80 was carried out during the week of September 19 on a bridge in Hart County, KY by personnel from the Kentucky Transportation Center. The deployment was funded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Federal Highway Administration.
The project aims to optimize the use of taxpayers' funds in enhancing the commonwealth's transportation infrastructure by using innovative methods and utilizing considerably less manpower. The lessons learned from this project will be used in Kentucky, the U.S., and the world for upgrading and extending the life of similar bridges.
MEDIA CONTACT: Carl Nathe, (859) 257-3200.