The first biobridge made entirely of biocomposite

In a collaboration between two universities, three colleges and several companies, the world’s first biocomposite bridge was opened for the public on 27 October. The bridge is placed across the stream the Dommel on the campus of the Technical University Eindhoven (TU/e), the Netherlands.

The fourteen metre long ‘biobridge’ consists of a long, slender beam and fan-shaped balustrades that remind of blades of grass.

The core is made from PLA foam (polylactic acid), which is biodegradable. To this base, fibres of hemp and flax are stuck. A bioresin was sucked into the fibres using a vacuum, which produced a very strong girder when it hardened.

Before the bridge was realised, a 2 metre long full size model was made, which was tested by various production methods. The researchers also tested if the production method was realistic. Watch the process in the movie below (in Dutch).

There have been similar projects before, but this bridge is the first one made entirely of biomaterials. The biobridge will be in use for a year, during which 28 sensors will measure the bending that occurs. Since this bridge is the first of its kind, the researchers hope to learn a lot about biocomposites on the long term.

The goal of the biobridge is to show the potential of biocomposite as a sustainable alternative for existing environmentally harmful construction materials. Using biocomposites reduces the dependence on fossil fuel resources, which are both harmful and finite.

The bridge is the result of the 4TU Lighthouse research project ‘B3: Fully Bio-Based composite pedestrian Bridge’. The partners were TU/e, TU Delft, composite company NPSP and the Center of Expertise Biobased Economy, a collaboration between Avans Hogeschool and HZ University of Applied Sciences. The project was co-funded by Stichting Innovatie Alliantie (SIA).