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Lawrence Tech researchers test "carbon fiber" bridge

Release Date: April 24, 2009



WHAT: Researchers at Lawrence Technological University will conduct tests to determine how much force is required to break or "fail" a 30-foot bridge beam that has been reinforced with carbon fiber instead of steel. This is similar to a 54-foot box beam that will be used in the reconstruction of the Pembroke Avenue bridge over the Southfield Expressway (M-39) in Detroit, currently scheduled for next year.

WHEN: Friday, April 24, 9:30 a.m. (program) and 10-10:30 a.m. (first bridge test). A second bridge beam will be tested between 11 a.m. and noon.

WHERE: Lawrence Technological University, 21000 West Ten Mile Road, Southfield, in the Center for Innovative Materials Research, which is in building #10 on the campus map at this (link).

WHO: The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is funding the first bridge test, and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is the co-investigator on the research project. MDOT Director Kirk Steudle and state highway engineers will attend. The U.S. Department of Transportation is funding the second test. CIMR Director Nabil Grace, chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at Lawrence Tech, is leading the two tests.

WHY: For many years Grace has conducted research on the benefits of using carbon fiber instead of steel for reinforcing concrete bridges. Steel in bridges is corroded by water, salt and chemicals; the corrosion weakens a bridge and can cause concrete to spall or even fall off in large chunks. Grace's research has shown that a bridge reinforced with carbon fiber can last as long as 100 years. Carbon fiber is initially more expensive than steel, but Grace said the long-term costs are lower because of reduced maintenance costs and the longer life for the bridge. (Background attached.)

Lawrence Technological University,, offers over 80 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes 75 years ago, and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech's 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Livonia, Petoskey and Traverse City. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.