The Ville de Montréal, Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and Chaire SAQ de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux at the Université de Sherbrooke announced that the project to build two Montréal bridges incorporating recovered glass has been chosen from among candidates worldwide to receive the prestigious 2021 Excellence in Concrete Construction Award in the Infrastructure category from the American Concrete Institute.

News of the award came only days after the Darwin bridges were opened to traffic. The bridges are located on Boulevard de L’Île-des-Soeurs in Montréal’s Verdun borough.

“These are the first bridges in the world to be built with concrete that incorporates finely ground recycled glass powder,” said Sylvain Ouellet, vice-chair of the Executive Committee and head of infrastructure at the Ville de Montréal. “That this project could happen is due to the 17 years of research done by the Chaire SAQ at the Université de Sherbrooke in close collaboration with the Ville de Montréal.”

“At the SAQ, we are very proud that a bit of us can be found in these bridges,” added Marie-Hélène Lagacé, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Communications and Social Responsibility at the SAQ. “This recognition is the fruit of a collaborative process involving the SAQ chair. The prestigious award from the American Concrete Institute received by the Ville de Montréal not only spotlights Quebec engineering but also confirms the relevance of lasting research partnerships. In the coming months, the rollout of an expanded deposit-return system will give us access to high-quality glass, and incorporating glass powder into infrastructures is an innovative way of using the material. This fits perfectly with our aim of encouraging the circular economy.”

“The cement and concrete industry around the globe wants to reach carbon neutrality by 2050,” noted Arezki Tagnit-Hamou, a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke and holder of the Chaire SAQ de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux. “With one of the recommended solutions being to use new cement additives, this kind of collaborative project between the university and industrial sectors and the infrastructure owner is proof that where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

From left to right: William Wilson, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Université de Sherbrooke; Étienne Cantin Bellemare, Engineer, lead designer of Darwin bridges, Ville de Montréal, Vincent Caviola, Candidate to the engineering profession (CEP), Ville de Montréal; Marie-Hélène Lagacé, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Communications and Social Responsibility, SAQ ; Christian Marier-Pilon, Director, Social Responsibility, SAQ, and Sylvain Ouellet, Councillor responsible for infrastructure, Ville de Montréal. (SAQ)

Construction of the Darwin bridges has given a second life to the equivalent of some 70,000 wine bottles, resulting in a savings of 40,000 kg of cement. Because cement production is a source of greenhouse gas emissions, around 40 metric tons of CO2 were kept out of the atmosphere by using this innovative construction method.

Replacing cement with glass powder also increases the concrete’s durability and strength. The bridges will be equipped with sensors and monitored closely by the Université de Sherbrooke and the Ville de Montréal, which will track the material’s performance in the coming years.

The use of glass powder as a cement replacement in concrete production was officially recognized by the American standard, ASTM C1866, in April 2020. In Canada, glass powder has been part of the CSA A3000 standard since December 2018.

Featured image: (Ville de Montréal)

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