Powerful fabric developed by UK students a game-changer for fixing local bridges
Its strength is equivalent to a steel plate that would have to be seven times thicker and can carry 700,000 times its own weight.
OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- A game-changer for fixing failing bridges is coming in the form of a powerful fabric, developed by engineering students at the University of Kentucky. Not only is it strong, it is a cost-saver too.
The fiber, known as "CatStrong" is getting more attention for its capabilities.
"We're applying fabric that's about a foot wide. When it's bonded to concrete, it can carry a force of about 120,000 pounds, almost 700,000 times its weight," said Issam Harik, professor of civil engineering at UK. "Basically, that's equivalent to a steel plate that's almost seven times as thick."
The fabric uses a high-grade carbon fiber similar to what is used on some planes like Boeing 787s and Airbus 380s. Oldham County officials thought it was a great solution for fixing the 65-year-old bridge on Centerfield Drive, which would have cost $250,000 to repair.
With CatStrong, it cost half that and will help make the bridge last until 2051.
"Everybody comes out a winner: our taxpayers, the community and of course for UK what they've done. It's tremendous," said Oldham County Judge Executive David Voegele.
"The carbon fiber is going on almost like wallpaper would in a home. It has such a tremendous strength once it's applied and dried, it's going allow firetrucks and garbage trucks and other heavy vehicles to use this bridge," Voegele said.
Since 2001, UK has used carbon fiber to repair more than 30 bridges in Kentucky. CatStrong has been used since 2011.
Right now, it is only used in Kentucky under the UK engineering department's supervision. The department says because the product has been so successful, engineers have not had the time to write out the design and construction specs. Once that is done, they say it can be used all over the world.
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