Popular Science: The Inflatable Bridge
This August, Randy Gardner’s construction crew blocked off a road in Anson, Maine, and set up what looked lie a children’s bouncy castle. Neighborhood gawkers grew even more curious when a concrete truck arrived on the scene. Despite the inflatable carbon-fiber tubes’ toylike appearance, Gardner explained to passersby, they provide the backbone to a new generation of sturdy bridges.
Roughly a quarter of the country’s bridges need to be repaired or replaced, an estimated $140-billion project. The inflatable bridge system, designed by engineers at the University of Maine, could get the job done cheaper – and faster. Workers unpack each carbon-fiber tube (rolled up like a sock) from a duffel bag, inflate them, harden them with resin to produce sturdy arches, and fill them with resin to produce sturdy arches, and fill them with concrete. Cover the top with sand and asphalt, and it’s good to go.
Learn more, here: http://www2.umaine.edu/aewc/images/stories/web_uploads/pop_sci.pdf