The World’s First Biobased Bridge

Fifty students from Avans University have created a test version of a pedestrian bridge made entirely of biocomposite materials. The first of its kind in the world, this bridge bridge measures 14m and spans the River Dommel on the grounds of TU Eindhoven. This innovation is the result of the 3TU research project named Lighthouse.

The students constructed the bridge from flax and hemp fibres bound with a bioresin and around a core of PLA foam.

Now that the production of the test bridge is complete, a number of vacuum-injection production methods are being tested. The process involves the use of a vacuum to facilitate resin flow into a flax and hemp fibre layup contained within a mold tool covered by a vacuum bag. After the impregnation occurs the composite part is allowed to cure at room temperature with an optional post cure sometimes carried out.

In addition, as part of this test phase, the team also investigated material efficiency of the design including the structural integrity of the layer thicknesses, strength of adhesive points, paints, the development of heat in the biobased curing resin and the speed of the vacuum-injection.

A Collaboration of TU/e, TU Delft, NPSP and Avans

The bridge is the result of the 3TU Lighthouse project “B3: Fully Bio-Based composite pedestrian bridge”. The project team for this project comprises Eindhoven University of Technology (project manager), TU Delft, NPSP bv and the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy from Avans . The 3TU project is a spin-off from the much longer term Biobased Bridge Project, funded by the SIA and including educational institutions such as Inholland, Avans, the TU/e and various other innovative entrepreneurs.

The final design is now complete and the application and approval process has been started in the city of Eindhoven. With this test model, the production of the footbridge a significant step closer!