UConn and Enflo Prove Feasibility of Smart PTFE for Bridge Bearings

Enflo announced today that the University of Connecticut working together in a joint applied research project, has proven the feasibility of embedding sensors in PTFE for bridge bearings. UConn’s Principal Investigator Dr. Arash E. Zaghi stated: “Bridges are the most critical elements of transportation infrastructure systems. In the coming years, a significantly large number of bridges will need to be repaired or replaced. By implementing innovative technologies, our bridge structures can serve purposes other than simply carrying traffic. This project may lead to the development of next-generation PTFE bridge bearings that enable real-time monitoring of traffic flow and the structural health of bridges. The measurement of forces at bridge bearings provides data that may be used to weigh trucks as they drive over, a technology called Bridge Weigh in Motion (BWIM). In addition, this innovative bridge bearing provides information on the number of vehicles utilizing a roadway. These counts offer insight into the number and type of vehicles and are used for numerous transportation planning and operation purposes. These significant benefits may be achieved at a negligible cost and effort.”

PTFE is typically used in bridge bearing applications due to its low coefficient of friction, especially under high pressures, which allows for translation and rotation of bridges. This achievement of embedding sensors in the PTFE for bridge bearings is foundational for introducing ‘Smart PTFE Bearings’, and is a novel and unique way for real-time measurement of forces which can provide the basic information necessary to effectively manage the bridge infrastructure throughout its lifecycle.

This project is a collaboration with, and funded by Enflo LLC, a leading manufacturer of quality PTFE products. Enflo received a grant award from the State of Connecticut’s Manufacturing Innovation Voucher Program (MVP), in partnership with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), which helped to fund this project.

About UConn

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is a leading research institution in the US and is committed to accelerating innovation in the State of Connecticut. Researchers at UConn are dedicated to providing innovative and practical solutions to major challenges facing the nation. The UConn’s Institute of Material Sciences (IMS) is home to the Industrial Affiliates Program, an industry outreach program which assists Connecticut companies in their research and development efforts to improve new and existing products. IMS operates and maintains extensive state-of-the-art research facilities including the Mechanical Testing laboratory (www.ims.uconn.edu). The Structural Laboratory of the School of Engineering (www.engr.uconn.edu) is one of the well-equipped large-scale structural testing facilities in New-England.