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Emergency inflatable bridges arrives in Japan

Published: 10/09/2020

Pneumatic Structures Technologies (PSTech), participated in by Buildair Ingeniería y Arquitectura, created by CIMNE professors about twenty years ago and recently the Catalan Institute of Finance’s part-owned, has sold the first unit of its inflatable bridge product for emergencies to the construction company Hirose Holdings, from Japan.

The photograph in the tweet below shows the bridge installed in front of Mount Fuji. Hirose will study the bridge’s applications in the Asian market and evaluate possible adaptations of the product to the needs and uses detected. This collaboration with Hirose may represent the beginning of a longer scientific and commercial collaboration between PSTech and Hirose.

The inflatable bridge was conceived at CIMNE as a response to the need to be able to install emergency bridges in a faster, cheaper way and with less logistical requirements than the traditional metal bridges used since the second World War. This innovative engineering product replaces the metal support structure of the traditional bridge with a low-pressure inflatable element that gives it a very similar strength and weighs 7 times less than a traditional bridge. Inflatable bridges reduce the resources needed for installation more than twenty times compared with a traditional one, with a tenth of the transport elements. Inflatable bridges installation does not require cranes, which makes it possible to respond to needs arising from natural disasters in an extremely rapid manner, overcoming the most critical moments after the disaster.

The bridge that was sold to Hirose is 16 meters long and a second unit, which is 32 meters long, has been built, making it more suitable for the usual needs, which will be tested this fall by the Military Emergency Unit (UME) of the Spanish Army. The UME has already tested the first bridge, with satisfactory results. In parallel, contact has been made with United Nations organizations (the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group) which will facilitate the introduction of the bridge between its member organizations in most countries in the world. 2021 must be the year of its commercialization.