Aluminium

Infrastructure and Bridges

Context and Objective

The AAC’s objective is to actively contribute to the knowledge, acceptance, and integration of aluminium in traditional, innovative, and emerging applications. Through their actions, the AAC and its partners have clearly demonstrated why Quebec aluminium should have pride of place in infrastructure and bridges engineered and rehabilitated here.

Actions

Development and update of standards

The AAC contributed to modifying and updating two CSA (Canadian Standards Association) standards on infrastructure and bridges:

Training

Discussion forums

The AAC held a series of discussion forums with practicing professionals (engineers and architects) and project owners to guide the development of its training strategy.

Participants agreed that it would be beneficial to increase use of aluminium in Quebec, and recognized that aluminium is widely under-used in most Quebec projects, especially in structural works such as bridges and buildings.

Overall, professionals encountered were interested in finding out more about aluminium’s application potential in their respective fields. It was clear that engineers and architects would welcome a training program to enhance their knowledge of aluminium and its applications.

Training content
  • Strength Design in Aluminum:
    • Advanced design of aluminium products
    • Structural aluminium construction including application of the Strength Design in Aluminum standard
  • Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code:
    • Design of aluminium bridges and walkways

The AAC and its partners have clearly demonstrated why Quebec aluminium should have pride of place in infrastructure and bridges engineered and rehabilitated here.

Studies

Aluminium’s possibilities in bridge construction

Aluminium has been used in many vehicular bridge projects across the world since this material’s first use. Today, the longest aluminium bridge in the world is the Arvida Bridge built in 1959 in Saguenay, Quebec.

Aluminium is also widely used for walkway applications. The main reasons for working with aluminium are its light weight, aesthetic qualities, and durability in its raw, unfinished state. Aluminium walkways are often used in highly corrosive environments such as ports and industrial facilities, where the material’s corrosion resistance is valued.


Efforts are made to integrate aluminium in new bridges and accelerated construction projects, especially when replacing decks. Thus, to support the higher loads incurred by modern traffic, increasing the bearing capacity of older bridges is the primary reason to use aluminium when replacing bridge decking. The significant deterioration of reinforced concrete bridge decks resulting from the heavy use of road salt is another reason to use aluminium.

The deck and the superstructure of a bridge are the primary load bearing elements that can be built with aluminium. Aluminium can be combined with more traditional building materials to build all or some of these elements.

Total cost of ownership

Policy makers should consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) to compare aluminium, steel, and concrete, for a project’s entire life cycle. The method and the project chosen highlight the importance of using a life-cycle costing methodology in large-scale civil engineering projects. This integrated approach demonstrates that aluminium is a viable and cost-effective alternative to steel when taking into account the lifetime of a project.

Market study for aluminium use in roadway brid ges of eastern North America

This study was conducted in 10 provinces and states, and revealed that half of the 1,000 to 1,400 bridges scheduled for replacement or rehabilitation per year over the next few decades in the U.S. Northeast and Eastern Canada are ideal candidates for the integration of aluminium decking. The aluminium industry sees an opportunity for Quebec to develop this export market.

Aluminium has been used in many vehicular bridge projects across the world.

Bridges and Walkways

Technical and Commercial Mission on Aluminium Bridges in Florida

A first meeting was held in Tampa Bay, Florida, in February 2015 to pave the way for an official technical and commercial mission on aluminium bridge decks.

This mission took place on October 28 and 29, 2015; it allowed the delegation of industrialists, academics, and representatives of public organizations in Quebec and Ontario to gain detailed knowledge of the latest technological advances in the U.S. for replacing wire mesh decks of moveable bridges in Florida with aluminium decks.

ALUMINIUM BRIDGES: PREPARATORY MISSION IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES

Delegates met with designers, manufacturers, and administrators of aluminium bridges and walkways in Sweden, Holland, and the United States and visited a number of these structures to lay the groundwork for official technical and commercial missions.

The technology used to rehabilitate bridges in Sweden differs from the one used in Holland. Although being lightweight, waterproof, easy to maintain and replace are the main criteria generally considered by all, the Dutch solution seems to best meet Quebec and Canada’s needs.

Assembly techniques for extruded profiles used to manufacture aluminium decking for bridges differ in Holland and the United States, but both methods seem to provide comparable results.


Photo of the excellent state of aluminum, view of the underside of a bridge in Sweden


Arvida Bridge

Arvida bridge rehabilitation

The Ministère des transports du Québec carried out a major rehabilitation of the Arvida Bridge in Saguenay in 2013 and 2014. This heritage bride, with its entire structure except the decking was designed in aluminium, needed repair after 65 years in service.


Construction site of the Saint-Ambroise bridge rehabilitation project with an aluminium deck

Projet pilote pont Saint-Ambroise

As part of a pilot project to assess how an innovative product would behave in our harsh climate, the Ministère des transports du Québec rehabilitated a small 11-meter bridge in Saint-Ambroise, in the Saguenay region, with the installation of friction-stir welded aluminium decking. U.S. company Alumi Bridge provided the aluminium decking.

Research Projects

REGAL

REGAL brings together engineering researchers from Quebec universities and CEGEP that are interested in aluminium.

AAC is working actively with REGAL for the development of continuing education content for engineers. In addition, the two organizations work together and collaborate with AluQuébec in order to promote and publicize characteristics of aluminium within the infrastructure and bridges sector, as well as transportation of buildings.

AAC also helps fund professorships and research projects of members of REGAL, including the universities of Sherbrooke, Laval, McGill and l’École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS)

University of Waterloo

Like REGAL, AAC helps fund research projects with the engineering department of the University of Waterloo, particularly in connection with the problems of vibration and fatigue.

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