U.S. Army orders bridges made of recycled plastic

Axion International Holdings has won a $957,000 contract to provide the U.S. Army with two bridges made from a thermoplastic composite and recycled plastic.

The two bridges, which are replacing old wooden ones, will be constructed at Fort Eustis in Virginia from a proprietary Recycled Structural Composite (RSC) developed by Axion in conjunction with scientists at Rutgers University.

The railroad cross-ties will be made entirely of a plastic composed of recycled materials from both consumer and industrial plastic waste…

The location is significant. Fort Eustis is home to the U.S. Army Transportation Corps, the branch of the Army responsible for coordinating the movement of personnel and cargo. The Fort Eustis motto is Einstein’s famous quote “Nothing happens, until something moves.” It’s also the location of the U.S. Army Transportation Museum.

But this is not the first military bridge to be made out of plastic by Axion for the military. The Army has previously built plastic bridges for Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall in North Carolina using materials and structural design that allowed for a bearing load of 73 tons for tracked vehicles and 88 tons for cars and trucks. To demonstrate its strength a 70-ton M1A1 Abrams tank was driven across the bridge at its official unveiling in September.

The Pentagon moves forward into the realm of common sense, recycling, 21st Century design.

Skeptics, of course, will stick with coal-fired locomotives and other objects and ideology suitable only for theme parks.

8 thoughts on “U.S. Army orders bridges made of recycled plastic

  1. gordeecampbell says:

    Plastic is really a good fuel for any good flame thrower or as a combat soldier would say, an incendiary device. No thanks, give me a steel bridge. You can recycle steel too.

    To prove that this plastic bridge idea is a office type brain storm You will note though the incongruency in this photo.

    First we have a bridge supposedly of plastic. Then over a river/creek in a forest. And a tank in desert camouflage. Deserts don’t have too many rivers, and by logic progression not too many bridges.

    Second. Now being roughly familiar with battle tactics, I would gladly trade away any plastic bridge for some green camouflage paint on my little tank. Just a thing I got.

    • Mr. Fusion says:

      Most of America’s tanks and armored vehicles are currently painted in desert camo. It makes sense since we are currently involved in two wars in countries having large deserts terrain.

      These plastic bridges are to replace wooden bridges. The last time I looked, wood also has this nasty tendency to burn. Since wood is more porous than most plastic, it will burn more readily too.

      Large plastic parts (and wood too) are difficult to ignite. Plastic parts may also be extinguished with water, the same as wood.

      Plastic will retain its structural integrity as it and only slowly lose it as the material is consumed. It will not warp or distort and it is a very poor conductor of heat. Steel, on the other hand will lose its structural integrity very quickly when it is heated.

      • gordeecampbell says:

        Ah so you would think. Not all woods burn. And no the plastic is not meant to replace wood. It is meant to replace the old tech Bailey Bridging.

        Why would one use plastic to replace wood when there is a whole forest full of material around. Green woods burn at a much higher temperature. Wood is easier to adapt to differing bridging situations where plastic cannot be manipulated to the same extent. Obviously, you don’t know bridging. Or been in the Boy Scouts.

        Oil makes plastic. Something tells me that some military contractor got a sweet heart deal. Its not who you know. And obviously no one asked about this bridging system from actual field officers. I mean the logistics of moving plastic pieces into position.

        Wood, and steel are much better bridging materials than plastic. Someone in the Obama has a Lego fixation.

        • gordeecampbell says:

          Part two.

          Lets detail some of those delusions.

          A. No you don’t put a desert camo tank in a forest setting. At no time.

          B. Paper burns at 451 Fahrenheit. If any vehicle is hit and torched on a bridge, wood will burn depending on the water content of the bridge and the type of bridge.

          For instance if the bridge is made from fresh unspudded JackPine. The ignition temperature of the tree is somewhere near one thousand degrees. It takes about 750 degrees to open Jack pine cones.

          Pines are prevalent conifer species. So its what one makes the bridge out of too.

          Despite your missive on steel, steel begins to soften about 630 degrees. Plastic will soften at a lower temperature plus not show a color change when that material is undergoing heat stress.

          Plastic again doesn’t burn. It literally ignites. As an oil product, plastic will be miscible in spilling burning gasoline. Melting begins above 350 but does vary with polymer. How do I happen to know this? I’ve done it, that’s why I know.

          Then if you feel happy about putting a Million dollar tank on a plastic bridge go for it. If I am the enemy I would laugh tirelessly.

          Plastic bridges. Stupid idea. It was like the idea of a navy destroyer built of aircraft aluminum. eg. HMS Sheffield.

          • gordeecampbell says:

            Naturally. But considering how well the US Army has done in invading the last two countries… As a Canadian, I feel damn safe in that event.

            Oh I forgot, …In Arctic cold, plastic will be way too brittle. In that case, Canadians use Ice bridges. Very hard to burn.

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