Addressing Civil Infrastructure Needs with Composite Materials
Using composite materials in the repair and rebuild of aging civil infrastructure is an attractive alternative to the heavier, corrosive materials traditionally deployed in the industry. Mar-Bal, a leader in thermoset compound products, provides civil infrastructure composite materials for a variety of infrastructure applications. Meeting these long-term, high-use needs is just one more way Mar-Bal innovates to deliver quality, commitment, and service.
The aging infrastructure concern is real. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues a report card grading the condition of the national infrastructure. The 2017 report issued an overall D+ rating citing deteriorating conditions and the need for improvement within the systems. The report estimates that the U.S. needs to spend $4.5 trillion by 2025 to fix the country’s roads, bridges, dams, and infrastructure components.
The Test of Time
Concrete, metal, and cast iron were originally used to build roads, bridge tracks, and ports. In addition to the expanding networks within the systems, heavier use put an unexpected strain on these traditional building materials. Over time, with lack of repair and heavier than anticipated use, concrete deteriorated and metals corroded. Subject to ongoing deterioration, the materials simply couldn’t maintain integrity through 50+ years of use.
Today, traditional materials are complemented and often replaced with composites to withstand the rigors of use for longer periods of time.
Composites Gain Acceptance
Aging infrastructure offers a potentially huge market for composite materials. For example, according to a report by the coalition Transportation for America, 11.5% of all highway bridges require repair or replacement. Statistics such as this one illustrate the driving force behind the development of composites and Mar-Bal provides the civil infrastructure composite materials the aging infrastructure needs for retrofit, repair, and new construction.
Engineers, architects, and contractors rely on Mar-Bal’s thermoset composite components to deliver performance in a variety of applications including:
- Manhole covers
Mar-Bal’s thermoset composite components are engineered, produced, and delivered to exact specifications to meet the safety and performance demands of building and maintaining the U.S. infrastructure.
Right Materials for the Application
Thermoset composites have attributes that make the materials especially useful for all aspects of civil infrastructure use. The demand for the products and the applications continues to grow as providers like Mar-Bal innovate formulations. Lightweight, high stiffness-to-weight and strength-to-weight ratios, potentially high resistance to environmental degradation, and lower life-cycle costs make thermoset composites a material of choice for use in civil infrastructure applications. The latest composites deliver the variety of requirements and customizations that this sector demands. Benefits include:
- Lighter weight for less structural stress and fewer worksite injuries
- High stiffness-to-weight and strength-to-weight ratios for greater stability
- Durability to withstand repeated use without a decrease in performance
- Thermal stability for less heat conduction
- Heat resistance to withstand wide-ranging temperatures
- Resistance to corrosion and environmental factors for sustained usage without rusting or failure
- Sound baffling for quieter operation
One infrastructure segment that has embraced composites as a safer, lighter-weight alternative is manhole cover manufacturers. Manhole covers and trenches are key components in the infrastructure of municipalities and industries including electrical utilities, telecommunications, energy companies, wastewater treatment, and water distribution. Long constructed of heavy cast iron, over time these important gateways to systems and subsystems began to corrode, presenting both safety and performance threats.
The use of composites to manufacture manhole covers is growing exponentially. Today, these covers are more easily installed, oblivious to deterioration from moisture and chemicals, require less maintenance, and provide reliable performance longer than previously-used cast iron and steel.
Mar-Bal’s composite materials for civil infrastructure are developed with exacting specifications for reliability and performance.