The HorBran project of innovative concrete reaches its final stage after a successful run

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HorBran project, whose main objective was the certification of innovative concrete materials with recycled or commercial fibers, has been successfully closed. The main objectives of this R&D project were the design and the certification of innovative concrete in which propylene fibers can substitute at least a part of the traditional steel reinforcement needed to reach structural strength.

HorBran project is an innovation project developed within the framework of the European Initiative called Climate-KIC, it was undertaken by a consortium formed by Ferrovial (Ferrovial Services, Corporation and Ferrovial Agroman). It is important to underline the fact that the experimental campaign which was the cornerstone of the Project was completed with the collaboration of the well-known Civil Engineering Department from UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalonia).

HorBran project aimed to design innovative construction materials that incorporate recycled fibers for its use in the construction of more sustainable infrastructures from an economic and environmental point of view, aligning with the main principles of circular economy (reduction of the industry’s emissions, of the material’s costs of production and of the use of raw materials). More specifically, the targeted use case was the ballastless track, and through the certification of such an innovative project, we seek an impact in the acceptance of this type of structural solutions by the railway infrastructure manager (such as ADIF in Spain).

In the framework of this project, Ferrovial Corporation focused its activities assisting the project management and coordinating with the Climate-KIC organization, they also assisted in the preparation of several reports. The Ferrovial Services’ Center of Excellence for Environment responsibilities were oriented to the identification of non-valorized textile waste produced in Europe, to study its potential to recycled fibers that are appropriate for its use as concrete reinforcement. Ferrovial Agroman lead the following tasks: exploring the most interesting use cases (ballastless tracks), material certification (based on a collaboration with an external laboratory) and demonstrating the economic viability of the material.

The material’s certification based itself on a very thorough experimental campaign led by the laboratory of the UPC for 3 months. The main conclusion of this study is that is that macrofibers are a viable solution to replace structural steel reinforcement. That would theoretically offer practical benefits regarding the efficiency of executions of ballastless tracks works onsite, especially regarding the reduction of time and costs.

The role of Wuppertal Institute was the development of an environmental assessment of the global process studied within HorBran project.

Based on the successful outcome of the project, our R&D Projects team, with the support of their sponsor (technical office and railway department), is currently working on a proposal paving the way towards a pilot project, which would implement the new solution in a ballastless track under real life conditions.

To obtain more information about the Project, please feel free to contact Ferrovial Agroman’s R&D Department (idiconstruccion@ferrovial.com).

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