The first batch of around 150 students have begun work on a paper fibre reinforced bridge of ice in Finland. The 65m-long bridge is based on Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci’s design.

Led by a team from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, this five-metre wide bridge is expected to be completed by 13 February and will become the longest ice bridge ever once it is completed.

In order to demonstrate that this international project is strong enough for pedestrians, a two-tonne car will be put on the bridge.

According to a university press release: "The ice bridge has the same construction principle as that of da Vinci’s: the only load on the whole structure is compression."

Pedestrians can use the bridge until it melts.

The team is using da Vinci’s 500-year-old plan for a bridge in Turkey that was never constructed.

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The bridge is being made with water, to which 2% of paper fibre is added. This fibre makes the frozen water three times as strong as normal ice, and ten times as tough.

"The ice bridge has the same construction principle as that of da Vinci’s: the only load on the whole structure is compression."

The students will then spray this water in thin layers onto an inflated balloon that will serve as a mould and will freeze almost instantly.

Once the structure becomes strong enough, the balloon will be removed from under it.

The students will require about 900 tonnes of ice to build the bridge and will work under severe weather conditions.

If the work gets stopped, the equipment will freeze; therefore, the team will operate continuously in shifts.

Image: The bridge in ice will be built based on the model of da Vinci’s 500-year old design. Photo: courtesy of TU/e.