The future of the infrastructure industry is dependent on how sustainable and resilient the planning, manufacturing, and construction of future projects are. Infrastructure is designed to be safe and last as long as possible. On top of that, infrastructure should have low-life cycle costs and have as little impact on the natural environment as possible. Using composites in projects can help improve all these facets of infrastructure. Currently, projects use materials like concrete and steel to construct infrastructure and are considered long-lasting. With regular, costly maintenance, these materials can last 50-100 years depending on the application and level of quality. Additionally, the manufacturing of steel and concrete are connected to being a major annual greenhouse gas emitter. So what can we, as an industry do, to improve the sustainability of infrastructure?
The word composite at its basic definition is something that is made up of various parts or elements. Today, the word composites commonly refer to fiber-reinforced polymer or FRP composites. FRP Composites are typically made using glass or carbon fibers, that have been cured in resin. The outcome can be lightweight, high-strength, corrosion-free, and time enduring building material. Composites were first tested on a boat in 1942, and the boating industry never looked back. Today, composites are used in airplanes, spaceships, helicopters, cars, bicycles, wind turbines, offshore platforms, and most recently as a building material for infrastructure. AIT Manufacturing produces FRP composite rebar, bolts, nuts, seawalls, and utility poles, and AIT Bridges designs and manufactures FRP composite arch & beam bridge systems. AIT's Composites have been tested at the University of Maine's Advanced Structures & Composites Center (ASCC) to last 100 years with little to no maintenance. Additionally, when using composites in infrastructure, you are reducing the project's carbon footprint during the manufacturing, transportation, and construction process of the project.
Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is a non-profit organization that developed and manages Envision, a framework that encourages systemic changes in the planning, design, and delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure through education, training, and third-party project verification. AIT joined ISI as members in 2020, to help advocate for sustainable infrastructure. Ken Sweeney, President and Chief Engineer of AIT Bridges is a certified Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) through ISI's Envision program. To find out more about sustainable infrastructure and how to help advocate, visit sustainableinfrastructure.org