Pankow Award Honors New Beam's Inventor

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given its 2013 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation to John Hillman, inventor of the Hybrid-Composite Beam, for use in highway and railroad bridges and other projects. It offers superior corrosion resistance and a projected 100-year life span.

The Association of American Railroads announced that a project headed by Principal Engineer Duane Otter of its Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) in Pueblo, Colo., was honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE has given its 2013 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation to John Hillman, inventor of the Hybrid-Composite Beam, for use in highway and railroad bridges and other projects, and the society provided a plaque recognizing TTCI as a collaborator on the winning project.

The beam is a fiber-reinforced polymer box beam with concrete pumped into a profiled conduit inside, and tension reinforcement of carbon, glass, or steel fibers are anchored at the ends of the filled conduit, according to AAR. It says the resulting beam is as strong and stiff as conventional concrete and steel but is lightweight and has the corrosion advantages of advanced composite material, and it offers a projected 100-year life span.

Otter will represent TTCI at a gala this spring in Washington, D.C., when Hillman and other civil engineers are recognized. "Introducing a new technology in the transportation industry is a daunting task," Hillman said. "I am very grateful for the support we have received from everyone at TTCI. In particular, Duane Otter, who did an exemplary job serving as an advocate for new technology and encouraging the support from the Association of American Railroads' Bridge Technical Advisory Group to have the first HCB bridge deployed to the Transportation Technology Center for installation and testing."

AAR's release calls the beam "a new alternative for rebuilding our nation's infrastructure with state‐of‐the‐art sustainable structures." It says TTCI tested the prototype HCB® span for 1.5 million load cycles under heavy freight railroad traffic and has completed follow‐up testing of a commercially produced HCB® span that will be put into service on a nearby rail line.

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