A bright clean tunnel lined with Cotto d'Este's revolutionary ultra-thin flexible porcelain stoneware
Kerlite, the ultra-thin ceramic porcelain tile produced by Cotto d'Este, has been used to coat the curved walls of the longest tunnel of the Variante di Valico, one of the most impressive infrastructural projects in Europe. The ultra-thin ceramic slabs (only 3.5 mm thick) with large dimensions (100x300 and 100x100 cm) have an anti-reflection white colour; they are laid with special Mapei adhesives, at a height of 4 metres from the pavement next to the roadway on both concrete walls of each tunnel (one in each direction). Kerlite has been chosen due to the numerous properties which are intrinsic to this product: first of all its flexibility that, with a curvature radius of 5 metres, is able to follow the course of railway and motorway tunnels; the reduced cost of the ceramics when compared to the alternatives on the market, the increased convenience in terms of maintenance thanks to its ease of cleaning; the intrinsic resistance to fire (class 1) and the durability over time of porcelain stoneware. Constructed according to the highest quality and safety standards, thanks to the Kerlite cladding the Base Tunnel will have a high level of brightness and optimal acoustic comfort, characteristics that will have a positive impact on the safety of motorists who will soon be using it.
"We are proud to have helped build this tunnel that the Italians have long been waiting for", said Paolo Mussini, CEO of Cotto d'Este, a prestigious brand of the Panariagroup, a reference point in the ceramics industry for floor and wall cladding porcelain and laminated porcelain tiles. "I like to think of this new, large, luminous tunnel covered with white Kerlite as a kind of gateway to the future of Italy." For the project, Cotto d'Este has provided 175,000 square metres of the revolutionary ceramic material launched in 2004, which represents the most significant single supply of Kerlite in its now ten-year history.
The "Base Tunnel", a tunnel with separate carriageways that are 8.7 km long, a symbol of the entire "Variante di Valico" stretch of the A1 motorway, will be inaugurated on 23 December, 2015. With 10.2 million cubic metres of excavated material and a working face of 180 square metres, it is the largest tunnel on the Variante di Valico and one of the most impressive in Europe. The Variante di Valico is a 66.6 km stretch of the Apennine section of the A1, in the segment between Sasso Marconi (Bo) and Barberino del Mugello (Fi), and it is the most important upgrade to be carried out on the motorway network by Autostrade per l’Italia.
The Variante di Valico, as well as being one of the largest infrastructural projects in Europe, marks the end of one of the oldest traffic junctions of the Italian motorway network, easing considerably the flow of traffic between the North and the South of the country. The upgrading works are necessary to help reduce pollution, provide reduced travel times with lower fuel consumption and protect the safety of those who travel through our country.