Reusing electric pylons to design the roof of a train station

For his Master’s project, Joseph Desruelle devised a plan to reuse steel bars from dismantled electricity pylons to make a new roof for the Lausanne train station. This approach is still theoretical, but reusing materials in this way could one day become commonplace.


For his Master’s project in civil engineering, Joseph Desruelle came up with a project to count and classify thousands of steel bars from dismantled electric pylons and to use their mechanical properties to design a new train-station roof. Desruelle’s project was supervised by Corentin Fivet at EPFL’s Structural Xploration Lab (SXL) – based at the smart living lab in Fribourg – and Aurelio Muttoni at EPFL’s Structural Concrete Laboratory (iBeton), and his oral defense took place on 22 March.

The approach Desruelle utilized structures some portion of another strand of research in the structural building: reusing auxiliary components in their crude frame (steel bars and frameworks, wooden bars, and so forth.) toward the finish of their administration lives, rather than reusing them or rejecting them.

Reusing materials along these lines diminishes the typified carbon impression of new structures since 71% of their ozone-harming substance discharges result from the extraction and creation of materials and the development stage.

Six high-voltage lines are due to be taken down in Valais canton. © Swissgrid
Six high-voltage lines are due to be taken down in Valais canton. © Swissgrid

The approach likewise decreases the measure of waste created by the development segment, which represents around 33% of all waste delivered in Europe. In conclusion, reusing materials have the benefit of safeguarding limited regular assets.

In spite of every one of those advantages, little research has been done in this field, and there have been a couple of handy applications to exhibit its esteem. That is the reason Desruelle began his investigation with a hypothetical examination that intends to encourage this approach.

He built up an enhancement calculation permitting a structure –for example, an extension or building – to be outlined utilizing any reused auxiliary components. The architect enters the number of components accessible for reuse and their size, mass, geometry, and mechanical properties, and the calculation proposes an ideal plan that limits the number of materials required, without making extra waste, however, leaving space for innovativeness. In his hypothetical examination, Desruelle drew on work being finished by Jan Brütting, a doctoral understudy at SXL.

In the second piece of his venture, Desruelle tried his procedure for a situation ponder propelled by the disassembling of six high-voltage electrical cables in Valais canton. This will possibly make 18,000 steel bars for every line, of which a little more than 80% will be reusable.

Taking these segments, Desruelle utilized his calculation to upgrade a 200-meter-long rooftop structure covering the tracks and stages at the Lausanne preparation station. He set himself two fundamental imperatives: he needed to abstain from cutting any steel bars, and he needed to reuse existing associations.

Details of the alternative canopy. © J.Desruelles/EPFL
Details of the alternative canopy. © J.Desruelles/EPFL

By selecting a particular outline, Desruelle was likewise ready to guarantee that his rooftop reused modules of the arches without dismantling them. “Along these lines of reusing materials has the advantage of sparing work, as the parts just should be conveyed starting with one place then onto the next,” he said.

At last, the venture would utilize just 20% of the materials from the high-voltage lines and would lessen encapsulated carbon by 80% contrasted and building an indistinguishable rooftop utilizing spic and span materials.

It so happens that the Swiss Federal Railways is planning to make changes to the Lausanne train station’s historical canopy as part of the project to expand the station. However, Desruelle makes clear that, since the roof is listed, there are no plans to replace it or convert it.

According to the drawings he has received from the Swiss Federal Railways, the canopy will simply be extended to cover the longer platforms. However, Desruelle’s project could be used in other applications, such as for a manufacturing plant, a sports center, or even a bridge.

Corentin Fivet, who jointly supervised Desruelle’s Master’s project, said, “There are several economic and civil-liability issues to be resolved. However, from an engineering point of view, we wanted to show that, using our tools, it will soon be possible to reuse structural elements in a highly efficient way to build new structures. The European Union is investing a lot of money in this field of research, which it sees as a way of creating jobs and boosting local economies. I am optimistic that this approach will soon become the obvious choice.”

“The whole point is to change the way we think about civil engineering – where the current paradigm could be summed up as build it, used it, tear it down, and throw it away – and move towards a circular-economy approach. Architects will use their creativity to find the best reusable materials as the basis for the structure and then devise how to use them most effectively.”

  • References

Joseph Desruelle, STRUCTURAL FORM-FINDING FROM RECLAIMED BAR ELEMENTS, Master Thesis, Supervisors: Prof. Aurelio Muttoni, Prof. Corentin Fivet, Civil Engineering, EPFL, 2 March 2018. (Available online in June 2018)

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