Wind turbines produce renewable energy from air with a small footprint on the ground. This means they can get placed in various locations and offshore they can be massive (and therefore more efficient), but when the wind turbines reach the end of service their blades take up a lot space in landfills. Thankfully the blades can be reused to build bridges!
Even when they are no longer useful to produce electricity wind turbines live on in useful ways – another reason to build more turbines.
Originally a metals recycling company, Anmet started exploring ways to repurpose wind blades about seven years ago. Since then, it developed a small commercial businessmaking outdoor furnitureout of discarded wind turbine blades. Bridges, Sobczyk says, are the next area it would like to expand into commercially.
The company’s first blade bridge took about three years to test, permit, and build. After harvesting decommissioned blades from a wind farm in Germany, the blades were subjected to a battery of engineering tests in partnership with Poland’s Rzeszów University of Technology before being cut up to create the primary support structures for a pedestrian footbridge. In October, Amnet installed that bridge over a river in Szprotawa, the small town where the company is headquartered.
Barcelona is going to build a road bridge which may be the cleanest bridge yet. Of course it’ll have pedestrian walks and bike paths, however, what makes the bridge really noteworthy is that it will clean the air.
Concrete is notoriously energy-intensive to create so any carbon offset is beneficial. The Barcelona bridge will make use of photocatalytic concrete.
But the real prize of this thing is its basic building material,Â photocatalytic concrete. The principal of photocatylitics is that ultraviolet light naturally breaks down dirt, both natural and synthetic. Itâ€™s that old adage about sunlight being the best disinfectant. Photocatalytic concrete is used with titanium dioxide, which helps accelerate the natural UV-breakdown process, turning the pollution into carbon dioxide, and oxygen and substances that actually belong in the atmosphere.
The actual process has to do with semiconductors and electrons and other things that you may or may not care to read about. (At any rate, the Concrete Society of the United KingdomÂ does a better job of explaining it.)
An air-cleaning bridge makes for a neat news story and a sci-fi-ish novelty that environmentalists can blog about. But the important point is that Barcelona has taken a piece of infrastructure that exists solely to accommodate car culture, and re-invented it to partially offset the effects of car pollution.
One of the other unique features of the bridge is how it is lit and powered. The bridge employs a sophisticated LED lighting scheme that can be programmed to produce an array of different lighting effects, which will become a feature of Brisbane’s annual Riverfire celebrations.
75 per cent of the power required to run the LED lighting in the fully lit mode is generated by solar energy, but in most lighting configurations, 100 per cent of the power will be provided by solar with any surplus electricity returned to the main grid. The 84 solar panels used on the bridge will have an average daily output of 100kWh and an average yearly output of 38MWh
Public Works Minister Robert Schwarten said the bridge’s grid connect solar power system will see savings of around 37.8 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
First it was paper cranes, now it’s bridges. Architect Shigeru Ban is moving us along the twenty-first century by using very old technology: paper! Ban has created an cardboard bridge in France.
Weighing 7.5 tonnes, the bridge is made from 281 cardboard tubes, each 11.5 centimetres (four inches) across and 11.9 millimetres thick. The steps are recycled paper and plastic and the foundations wooden boxes packed with sand.
It’s environmentally friendly, can be rebuilt and totally cool.