Smart Circular Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists in a circular built environment NWE993

Project: Research direct

Project Details


Issue: Although the Construction Industry needs to make a shift in material use, reliable alternative solutions for improving material efficiency and natural resource use are lacking for clients in infrastructure. Dutch municipalities maintain over 12,000 foot-/cyclist bridges. 41% are in a poor to very bad shape. Germany [2018 Brücken Statistik] shows similar figures. Within North West Europe, NWE territory 0,5 % replacement/year of just these bridges, equals to 95.000 Tons /Yr. of primary raw material use. The EU's action plan Bio-Economy Strategy [EC. 2018] stresses the need for a shift towards natural materials. Despite an increasing market demand, construction industry remains hesitant to implement new natural material applications, because their material properties, especially time-related degradation properties, are insufficiently known to fully guarantee safe use, for a sufficiently long time. Change: Modern sensor technology combined with smart computer algorithms, make it feasible to equip structural components with sensors and follow their behaviour. This is known as Structural Health Monitoring (SHM). Material behaviour is now evaluated in real time. A Smart sensor system, evaluates sensor input and generates early warnings, before critical levels of material degradation are reached. It enables in-time maintenance or replacement of components. In Smart Circular Bridge the unknown aspects of material-ageing are counterbalanced by the structural health monitoring system. Structural safety can thus be guaranteed. This approach will significantly accelerate resource efficiency in Infrastructure. Output: Smart Circular Bridge will build + equip 2 demo-bridges (NL+DE) and 1 final bridge (NL) within the NWE territory. Long term: this can reduce up to 677.000 Tonnes of raw fossil material every year in the EU. Using the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” principles, Smart Circular Bridge will actively promote the role-out in Industry thus accelerating resource efficiency throughout the EU.
EU funding: € 3.93 M, total budget: € 6.86 M.
Partner organisations:
- KU Leuven - FiberCore Europe BV - 24SEA BVBA - Com&Sens - Lineo groupe NatUp fibres (before Ecotechnilin) - Universität Stuttgart- MNEXT (Stichting Avans) - Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Gemeente Bergen Op Zoom - Gemeente Almere - Gemeinde Ulm - Proesler Kommunikation - Van Hattum en Blankevoort BV (before Volker Infra) - FibR GmbH

Layman's description

Smart Circular Bridge aims at using renewable bio-composite materials in building infra-structure. Bio-composites are materials that combine natural fibers (for strength) such as flax, with as much as possible, natural resins ("the glue holding the fibers together"). To achieve this, the project will build a total of 3 so-called "self-sensing", smart bridges. The bridges are equipped with state of the art sensors that will continuously monitor the material behaviour in real time. If certain safety levels should be (almost) compromised, the bridge will send out early warnings through its bridge management system.
Apart from the materials, the Structural Health Monitoring system, the project will also research the material impact. New solutions for the end of life, the circularity will be part of the project, and possible results will be disseminated as widely as possible.

Key findings

The project aims at: Degradation modeling of bio-composites through accelerated material degradation tests. Structural Health Monitoring and bridge management system optimisation. In situ detection of material degradation and real time calculation of remaining service life of Infra-structures, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.
Short titleSmart Circular Bridge
Effective start/end date26/09/1931/12/23


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