Composites, and more specifically fibre-reinforced polymers or FRPs (which is what our panels are) have become extremely popular within the aerospace, marine, automotive, and construction industries. And for good reason. FRPs are extremely durable, strong, corrosion resistant, and reliable building materials that prevent the growth of mold, and will not rust or corrode.
FRPs can be seen in harsh and corrosive environments like chemical processing plants, power plants, sewers, wastewater piping, and acid storage tanks. In fact, they are used in mineral piping systems to protect the pipes from “hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, chlorine gas (wet and dry), chlorine dioxide, sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite, solvent extraction solutions, brines, slurries, and more” (source).
They are also used to make boat hulls, bulkheads, and other components for military, commercial and recreational boats, ships, and superyachts. Jets, like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, are comprised of almost 50% composites. FRPs are used for beams, columns, bridge decks, seawalls, piles, piers, and cladding for roofs and walls.. They are even used to strengthen and reinforce old concrete structures, and new ones, to extend the lifespan by 50+ years. The list of uses and applications goes on.
The reason FRPs are so popular, is because they have these defining characteristics (source):
- Highly Corrosion Resistant
- High Durability
- High Flexibility
- High Impact Resistance
- High Strength-to-Weight Ratio
- High Thermal Stability
- Low Maintenance
- Long Lasting and Sustainable
These are all MAJOR benefits when it comes to building a foundation for a home or structure. The corrosion resistance decreases the wear and tear of the foundation, leading to fewer cracks, leaks, and repairs. The durability of the panels, perhaps the hallmark trait, increases the panels ability to withstand wear and tear, daily pressure, and common damages. Concrete, on the other hand, needs additional support in maintaining its durability, when that is its sole purpose. In fact, FRP is stronger and more durable than steel. The strength-to-weight ratio is 10x that of steel alloy, and 2-3x that of reinforced steel.
FRPs have an exceptionally high strength-to-weight ratio compared to alternative materials such as concrete. In fact, when a study was done on the soil load resistance of our panels compared to concrete, it showed that our panels were more than 2x stronger!
3rd Party Testing: Soil Load Resistance
The third party testing done demonstrates the durability of the panels, the flexibility, and the extremely high strength-to-weight ratio. To prove the strength of the panels, we conducted an experiment to put them to the test. We cut sections of the panel and had them elevated off the ground. And then a flatbed truck weighing close to 10,000 LBS was placed on top of the panel sections.
We Placed a Flatbed Truck On Top of Our Panels
As you can see, the panel holds up extremely well and the deflection is minimal. This demonstrates the incredible strength of the panels, and their ability to withstand lateral soil bearing pressure.
Additionally, FRPs are much easier to transport, maneuver, and install. This means they can be shipped just about anywhere, on a flatbed truck, and installed with ease. This reduces the transportation costs, labor costs to install, and significantly reduces the time needed to install leading to a much more efficient construction process.
FRPs are also a long lasting material that does not corrode, deteriorate, or decompose overtime. Love it or hate it, FRPs are a fancy, high quality and performance plastic. And plastics do not decompose. Concrete, on the other hand, can start breaking down in as few as 50 years and needs continual maintenance and care to retain it’s durability. Even steel, which is what rebar is made of, corrodes and breaks down. That is why FRP rebar is growing in popularity especially in states where there is a lot of rain and water, like Florida. This simple demonstration shows the stark difference between FRP and steel.
FRP Rebar vs. Steel Rebar
In just 52 hours steel is corroding and the water is already murky from the deterioration of the steel. This is what happens to foundations once water creates cracks in the concrete. The steel corrodes, leading to a severely diminished foundation that is not as strong or dependable, that needs to be reinforced. This can be extremely costly to fix and repair.
Overall, FRPs have become a beloved building material in many industries due to their reliability, durability, strength, corrosion resistance, and longevity. The demand is growing as organizations such as the Florida Department of Transportation, adopt them for a wide variety of applications.