Age defying bridges

Article image - Age defying bridges Sustainable and innovative geopolymer will soon replace high maintenance traditional wooden bridges.

Locally made, highly sustainable carbon fibre reinforced bridges could one day become commonplace thanks to a successful City of Greater Geelong, Victoria, initiative, and the first Procurement for Innovation project to be successfully tendered in Australia.

To encourage sustainable innovation the City, with support from Cleantech Innovations Geelong, tendered for a 100 year maintenance-free pedestrian bridge in 2017.

The tender invited companies to come up with solutions to the costly maintenance problem associated with traditional bridges – usually made of timber, steel or concrete - which cost the City around $500,000 to inspect, repair, maintain and replace each year.

The winning submission developed an innovative new building product made from geopolymer, including some recycled materials, and reinforced with carbon fibre, which will be stronger and longer lasting than existing products.

Construction on the first two bridges to be replaced with the new design is expected to begin this year.

The tender was the first in Australia to be offered using a Procurement for Innovation process, which aims to encourage the development and viability of clean technology – economically viable products that harness renewable materials and energy sources while reducing emissions and waste – using the substantial buying power of public sector procurement.

Co-Chair Social and Infrastructure Planning, Councillor Peter Murrihy, said, “This project, developed in Geelong, is an example of how we can lead the way in bringing sustainable solutions to the market, which is a key aspiration of our community-led clever and creative vision.”

Along with a commitment to buy a new innovative product which is not yet available on the market, the project provided a longer than normal deadline for the tender, as well as grants and support for tenderers to invest in research and access to international expertise towards their submissions.