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Repurposed steel from wind turbine creates bridge over troubled waters

Repurposed steel from wind turbine creates bridge over troubled waters

By Roy Fishwick

The Yorkshire Dales in northern England has long been a tourist trap for those who love its rural vistas and picturesque villages. More recently, it has garnered a reputation as a leading destination for cycling, thanks to hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014 and the annual Tour de Yorkshire races.

In September, Yorkshire was due to host the UCI World Championships, featuring over 1,400 cyclists from 90 countries and broadcast to a worldwide TV audience of 300 million. The Senior Men’s Road Race on September 29th was scheduled to follow the route used in the Tour de France, from the city of Leeds, through the area known as Swaledale, to the spa town of Harrogate.

However, heavy rainfall in late July led to flooding in Swaledale, which destroyed a stone bridge on the route. The torrent carried boulders and other debris which tore through the bridge over the Cogden Beck River and destroyed the road crossing, isolating the nearby village of Grinton.

North Yorkshire County Council is the municipal authority responsible for maintaining the road network in the Yorkshire Dales. Its engineers began working around the clock in a race against time to reconnect Grinton with the nearby market town of Leyburn, and ensure the cycle race could go ahead.

19/08/16 Dalton Industrial Est , Thirsk. Cleveland Steel

Its engineering team thought that large tubes deployed in the river could form the base of a temporary crossing, positioned alongside the damaged bridge. They turned to a local steel stockist, Cleveland Steel & Tubes Ltd., to see if it could help. The company had the perfect material in stock for the bridge replacement – steel from an unused wind turbine project.

The steel was part of the substructure which would have supported a turbine in the failed Dounreay Tri project, which aimed to build a 10 megawatt floating wind farm 5.5 miles off the coast of Dounreay in Scotland. The project was shelved in 2017 due to a lack of funding. Cleveland Steel saved the substructure from being scrapped and had stored the sections on its 100-acre stockyard near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, while it found a buyer.

Because Cleveland Steel is located only around 50 miles (80km) by road from the damaged bridge, the Council was able to quickly collect the pair of steel tubes and deliver them to the site, using a truck with a Hiab crane.

Each section is six metres (19ft 8ins) long and weighs 1.75 (3,858lbs) metric tonnes per metre. The giant tubes are 2.25m (7ft 4ins) in diameter and 32mm (1.25ins) thick, forming a solid base with the load bearing capabilities required for a temporary road surface.

North Yorkshire County Council used the Hiab crane to safely unload the tubes, which each weighed 10.5 metric tonnes (23,148lbs). It then deployed a tracked excavator on the river bank, in order to position the giant tubes in Cogden Beck. The operation was a success and enabled the UCI Road World Championships to continue as planned.

Roy Fishwick, Managing Director of Cleveland Steel and Tubes said: “As a local supplier we could immediately provide the tubes, enabling the Council to quickly restore access for residents as well as the tourists upon which this region relies during the summer.”

Cleveland Steel specialises in supplying surplus steel for re-use in major construction and infrastructure projects. Typically it purchases surplus pipe from oil and gas projects. Life cycle analysis from consultants Giraffe Innovation found that repurposing steel in this way can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 96 percent compared to using newly-milled steel – and is far more environmentally friendly than sending steel back to the mill for recycling. The life cycle analysis considered a comprehensive range of factors, including material processing, logistics, and disposal of any generated waste.

“Our repurposed steel is proven to deliver up to 96 percent savings on carbon emissions compared to new steel,” Roy said. “This means that it is an environmentally friendly solution as well as a cost-effective one.

“Total carbon emissions is a metric increasingly required for major construction or infrastructure projects. Surplus steel can therefore make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

High-profile structures that contain steel supplied by Cleveland Steel include the London Stadium which was the centrepiece of the 2012 Olympics; the roof of Wimbledon Court, and the London Eye. The company holds 70,000 tonnes of pipe at Thirsk, enabling it to provide short lead times to its client base. If required, Cleveland Steel can remove any coatings on the pipe and dispose of it responsibly. It has in-house capabilities for inspection, cutting, welding, shot-blasting and coating.

The company uses independent laboratories to verify that the properties and characteristics of its tubes meet the minimum requirements of the specifications set out by the customer.

Roy added: “We were delighted to be selected by the Council to provide steel tubes for the replacement bridge. I have friends and family in the Yorkshire Dales, so I know how important these bridges are in terms of connecting rural communities to the amenities and services in local towns.”

Councillor Don Mackenzie is the executive member for highways at North Yorkshire County Council.

“The damage caused by the unprecedented rainfall in parts of Swaledale has caused unimaginable upheaval to communities in the area,” he said. “We know how vital these roads and bridges are to everyday life for those living in the affected areas, so we are delighted to report we have managed to make so much progress in such a short space of time.”

North Yorkshire County Council intends to fully rebuild Cogden Bridge South in the traditional Dales stone masonry style next year.

The Numbers

  • 1,400 cyclists participate in the UCI World Championships
  • The event is watched by 300 million TV viewers
  • Each steel tube is 19ft 8ins long
  • The tubes weigh 23,148lbs each
  • The sections are 7ft 4ins in diameter
  • The tube is 1.25 ins thick
  • Reusing steel can save 96 percent on carbon emissions

Roy Fishwick is Managing Director of Cleveland Steel & Tubes Ltd.