24 March 2023

Mateusz Rajchel, BEng, PhD, of the Department of Roads and Bridges The Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture at Rzeszów University of Technology has been awarded a grant (project), of which he is the manager, under the Leader XIII program funded by the National Centre for Research and Development. The budget of the project is PLN 1,365,000.00.

The title of the project is “Hybrid girder made of recycled wind turbine blades and unconventional concrete for bridge construction and retrofitting equipped with fiber optic sensors for structural monitoring” (WTBridge, or Wind Turbine Blade/Bridge). The project will be implemented for 36 months from January 1, 2023 at the Department of Roads and Bridges at Rzeszow University of Technology.

Mateusz Rajchel, BEng, PhD, Photos B. Motyka

The project concerns the use of recycled materials from used wind turbine blades (WTB – Wind Turbine Blade) and unconventional concrete (fibre-reinforced concrete) in lightweight and durable hybrid girders for retrofitting and bridge construction. The project is a solution to problems in Poland and abroad related to the use of renewable energy sources from wind turbines and their end-of-life management, and a continuation of the positive results of the AnMet and Com-Bridge grants. The project addresses the need for new product recycling of WTB as an alternative to harmful material recycling or the lack of ideas for managing this material. It provides an opportunity for prefabrication, creating alternative (cheaper) solutions for bridge construction along with an effective condition monitoring system. The girders will combine the excellent tensile characteristics of FRP composites in cooperation with fibre-reinforced concrete having high compressive strength. The irregular shape of the WTBs may result in additional waste material, which will be intended in fragmented form as dispersed reinforcement for concrete.

The resulting hybrid girders made from wind turbine blades, which will be used to form the span of the bridge structure, will be a significantly cheaper and more durable alternative to the traditional concrete, composite or steel spans currently in use. The goals of the project are to create a new way to recycle WTB, develop and test a prototype hybrid girder, develop a design procedure and a catalogue of a series of bridge structures. To achieve the goals of the project, there are application studies: girder and series concept, design procedures, series catalogue, LCCA analysis, LCA, static, fatigue, dynamic and material tests, and development work including the development of a prototype hybrid girder solution and testing it under conditions that faithfully replicate the real ones. The entire solution will be developed in the form of a catalogue, which will be the basis for the use of the girders in question in practice (implementation).

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Source: Rzeszów University of Technology