Building Bridges with New Concrete Designs and Sonotubes

Sonotube

The world of sonotubes has never been more exciting than right now. Currently, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is trying to come up with a new construction method for bridge columns that will withstand the devastation of explosions, fires, earthquakes, and even hurricanes and tornadoes.

Current bridge tubes crack after installation and will break down in the presence of vibrations and other issues. What the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering hopes to create is a new column design that will resist natural and artificial disasters, protecting drivers everywhere through nearly any possible disaster.

The current concrete used for bridge columns use reinforced concrete poured into sonotubes. The concrete then hardens inside the tubes, which are removed after the concrete is dry.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is experimenting with a new column design that uses concrete-filled, fiber-reinforced polymer, which is extremely durable and is often used in the oil and gas industry because of its stable and fire-resistant properties. Just like the original bridge columns, the wet concrete is still poured into cardboard tubes and allowed to harden. The cardboard is then removed and the supports are tested under a variety of conditions, including vibrations, fire, explosions, and high winds.

So far, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is pleased with the outcome. None of the test columns have shown signs of wear, even after exposure to high explosive levels. The next step in the testing process will see how long it takes to crush the tubes under extreme pressure. Once all the tests are complete, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering can then determine if the new material adds enough stability to bridges to be used as a replacement for reinforced concrete. The department is also trying to come up with faster testing methods that construction workers can use to easily identify the safety of a bridge after a disaster.