Turning bottles into bridges

It's a green cure for what ails our nation's crumbling infrastructure: lightweight but heavy-duty structural beams made out of recycled plastic.

How they're made
How they're made
Is plastic the new steel? Axion International of New Providence, N.J., is using technology developed at Rutgers University to build I-beams from recycled plastics. The beams today are used to build small bridges, a potentially big opportunity. (Studies say 80,000 such structures in the U.S. are nearly obsolete.) Axion says its beams are cost-competitive, and unlike rival materials, they won't rust, corrode -- or be eaten by termites.

By Erik Rhey, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated April 30 2012: 6:29 AM ET
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America's energy job machine is heating up

Deep-sea drilling and fracking are helping to unearth abundant supplies of oil and gas. The coming energy renaissance could be just the elixir the U.S. economy needs.