Technology of tomorrow
In an interview with Ate Snijder he discusses the construction of the glass trust bridge and the special processing of SCHOTT glass.
Why did you choose glass as a building material?
Originally, we thought of a steel structure. But that’s nothing new. We wanted the bridge to have a certain aesthetic. Glass has several advantages. It’s a very strong, durable and resilient material. It’s made of sand and can be recycled, which makes it sustainable, a complement for the “Green Village.” A glass bridge also means virtually no maintenance because it neither rusts, corrodes nor rots. On top of that, glass is affordable. Calculations and digital simulations finally showed that implementing our idea was actually possible. The fact that using glass as a construction material is still relatively new and hardly researched was one more reason for us as scientists to use the material.
What were your biggest challenges with the project?
We used a relatively new kind of material composition for bridge construction, first developed by Prof. Nijsse and technically conceptualized by Faidra Oikonomopoulou (see publication linked below) – glass rod bundles. We connected a star-shaped CONTURAX® glass tubes with six round DURAN® glass tubes. A transparent UV adhesive holds the tubes together. By making a bundle rather that a single glass rod, we create redundancy. If one, or even two or three rods in the bundle fail, the bundle as a whole still retains some load bearing capacity.
What are you taking away from the project?
Bundles of glass are safe for use in structures because of their redundancy since they can take damage without failing completely. They are also very strong in compression, comparable to steel or concrete. By prestressing the bundle, which means applying a compressive force on the glass, we can make sure that the glass bundle is always under compression, even if loaded by a tension force. But the bundles’ most important quality is their incredible aesthetics. To further optimize the glass bundles, we will test different configurations with and without glue.
SCHOTT has proven to be a great supplier throughout the project. We’re more than satisfied with the quality of the glass tubes and the service. We hope to keep our relationship open and work together in the future because we already have some exciting projects in mind. For instance, we want to expand the current glass bridge into an arched bridge. Students are also working with the glass bundles on a truss structure.
Special thanks to Zwatra Transport, DIMI, The Green Village, RHDHV, Hovenier van der Heijde.
Impressions gained while building the glass bridge
Impressions of the stress-test of the glass bridge