Surrounded by ocean, most of New Zealand’s reinforced-concrete infrastructure lies close to the coast, making it susceptible to corrosion. Could new glass-based reinforcing hold the answer?

New research at the University of Canterbury (UC) led by Structural Engineering Professor Alessandro Palermo has highlighted the impact deterioration can have on the performance of structures. This research is important, especially given recent deadly bridge failures, such as the Morandi bridge in Italy, which collapsed due to corrosion and structural weakness, killing 43 people in 2018.

Safety is key in bridge design, but what about ongoing costs associated with the repair and rehabilitation of ageing infrastructure? “The way we build our future infrastructure should be more sustainable and not only limited to the construction carbon footprint,” Professor Palermo says.

“In the next 30 to 50 years, we will have more people, more bridges and probably less money to maintain our infrastructure. We need to look forward and opt for more durable materials. This will significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase structural life-cycles.”