Discussing current issues in engineering
EnviroRail Embraces Green Railroad Construction and Maintenance Through Partnership with Mechanical Concrete
The Nebraska-based railroad service contractor EnviroRail recently licensed Mechanical Concrete, an industrial strength aggregate confinement technology, marking a first for the future of sustainable railroad construction and maintenance.
All roads require regular maintenance throughout their lifespans. This is due in part to the fact that most road foundations, including railroad foundations, are comprised of compacted stone aggregate which weakens when wet. As pressure is applied to the wet aggregate particles spread out laterally resulting in a loss of road structure. This process yields features like ruts, potholes, and collapsed road edges. Railroads are particularly susceptible to this form of deterioration because of the high pressure loads typically transported by rail.
Samuel G. Bonasso, P.E., the creator of Mechanical Concrete, realized that in order to slow down this cycle of road deterioration and maintenance he needed to address the structural issue associated with loss of road base structure. His solution was simple: to prevent the loss of road structure, prevent aggregate lateral spread. What’s more, Bonasso incorporated a readily-available, oft-discarded industrial waste product into his process, creating a reliable and sustainable materials sourcing practice.
Each year, more than three hundred million waste auto tires are generated in the United States. And while tire recyclers make use of some eighty percent of waste tires through the recycling process, roughly half of those recycled tires are then burned for tire-derived-fuel. Mechanical Concrete is the first large-scale reuse alternative for discarded tires.
Mechanical Concrete uses waste auto tires to contain stone aggregate, thereby preventing the majority of aggregate lateral spread. Waste tires are stripped of their side walls to create a durable rubber cylinder and then filled with a granular aggregate. The resultant product creates a foundation that is stronger and more dependable than aggregate used in isolation.
In demonstrations hosted by West Virginia University’s School of Engineering, Mechanical Concrete proved three times stronger than traditional road foundations, and ultimately required seventy-five percent less maintenance. The recent contract between EnviroRail, as a nationwide railroad services contractor, and Mechanical Concrete provides encouraging evidence for a new era of railroad maintenance and sustainability.
Click here to learn more about EnviroRail’s contract with Mechanical Concrete. For more information on Mechanical Concrete, visit the company site.
Colman Engineering, PLC
A professional engineering firm located in Harrisonburg, VA