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MOveable Bearings Innovation Launch in enlarged Europe

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High performance, cost-effective bridge bearings

Bridges are subjected to a number of forces, including those due to the traffic on them, temperature and wind effects and, of course, the weight of the bridge’s components themselves. Bridge bearings are structures that support a bridge, transmitting the loads encountered to the ground while facilitating sliding (translation) or torsion (rotation) such that the bridge itself is not damaged under various loading conditions.

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European researchers identified a need for a new generation of high performance sliding bearings to address the increased traffic, increased cruising speeds and new performance specifications as related to European bridges. The ‘Moveable bearings innovation launch in enlarged Europe’ (Mobile) project was conceived to develop cost-effective technologies to meet the extreme product specifications for bearing systems with a specific focus on the Eastern European market. Eastern European countries have set sustainable infrastructure as a priority and improving infrastructure in these countries will have obvious benefits for the EU as a whole. The consortium held a workshop to determine current and future technologies and consolidate resources for development. Aside from guiding the remaining research, the workshop resulted in the establishment of numerous collaborations. The researchers then evaluated via friction and load tests a number of new candidate materials to replace those currently being used. They selected one material that met the specified requirements of an advanced sliding bearing system. They applied anti-friction coatings (AF-coatings) with promising results for the replacement of expensive and inferior austenitic steel sheets. Finally, the consortium investigated pre-cast components of fibre-reinforced concrete as a cost-efficient and lightweight alternative to steel plates. The Mobile project was thus successful in identifying high performance, cost-effective materials for use in sliding bridge bearings. Commercialisation of the outcomes could have an important impact on the European economy as well as on the safety of travel. In particular, enhancing Eastern European bridges could enhance the economies of many EU countries by providing better infrastructure for the movement of people and goods across the continent.

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