With the impending celebration of innovation by the JEC Group Awards to be scheduled between March 14th-16th in Paris, France, it might be of use to the building enthusiast to know which contestant was awarded the well-regarded construction prize. As announced, the construction prize went to a Spanish company known as Acciona for developing all new materials different to the ones ordinarily used in rail tunnel building. The product itself was developed following a potentially disastrous amount of water seeping into the Pajares tunnel and covering approximately a total of 30 per cent of the length of the structure. With a problem as great as this to be solved, Acciona were going to need to turn to more inventive solutions than the standard procedure normally used to dealing with problems encountered along tunnel railways.
In order to circumnavigate the structural and chemical problems inherent, Acciona developed some new panels that were able to be bent in order to match the shape of the tunnel itself. At 9.2 meters in length, it was imperative that each of these panels would be pliable enough to be fitted easily into the Pajares tunnel. There was then however another problem that the designers of these panels needed to contend with: how would they be able to produce the 1,500 needed within a foreseeable schedule and at a reduced cost? The ingenious resolution to this was to increase the panel production regularity through the implementation of various cheap anti-flammable resin into the material. With this method in place, Acciona were able to make as many one individual panel every half an hour.
Ultimately, the installation of 15,000 panels across an area of 200,000 square meters was greatly facilitated by the panels’ lightness. The combination of cost effectiveness, the various advantageous properties of the new material itself and its relatively simple methods of implementation ensured that the tunnel was repaired and at not too great a cost either, making Acciona the deserving winner of the JEC award dedicated to construction.