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Steel-free bridge decks solve chloride menace

CANADIAN-STYLE steel-free concrete bridge decks could solve the UK's massive chloride-induced reinforcement corrosion problem on thousands of concrete highway structures, a London seminar will be told next month.

Delegates to the ICE's Steel-free composite bridge deck slabs event on 11 May will hear three bridge engineers from Canada describe the development of the technique and the construction of four bridge decks using the principle since 1995.

But two speakers from the Queen's University of Belfast will also give an account of how their efforts over many years to promote similar structures in the UK have met with official indifference - outside Northern Ireland at least.

Steel-free decks use internal arching, or diaphragm effects, to resist transient wheel loadings. Plastic fibre reinforcement is added to the mix to resist cracking, and the deck is cast compositely with either steel or concrete beams.

Professor Adrian Long, head of Queen's University department of the built environment, said he had worked on development of the technique - now known as compressive membrane action in slabs - in Canada since the late 1960s. Although it is recognised in many design codes around the world, he said, it is not included in BS 5400.

Details of the 11 May seminar are available from ICE on (0171) 665 2236.

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