Using composites in infrastructure rehab for 30 years

Among many topics, CompositesWorld keeps tabs on composites in infrastructure and construction, a topic being discussed this week as it happens at the American Composites Manufacturers Assn.’s (ACMA) 2017 Infrastructure Day and NIST Workshop in Washington, D.C. Dr. Mo Ehsani is there.

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QuakeWrap Inc. uses carbon fiber composites for pipeline and infrastructure repair and improvements.

Among many topics, CompositesWorld keeps tabs on composites in infrastructure and construction, a topic being discussed this week as it happens at the American Composites Manufacturers Assn.’s (ACMA) 2017 Infrastructure Day and NIST Workshop in Washington, D.C. From the very early days of CW magazine’s predecessors High-Performance Composites and Composites Technology magazines, strengthening of concrete columns, beams, walls and pipelines using carbon fiber reinforcements got a lot of ink.  

One of the pioneers of this concept of strengthening concrete structure with composites is Dr. Mo Ehsani, professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Arizona, a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and American Concrete Institute, and president of QuakeWrap Inc. (Tucson, AZ, US). He has researched the seismic behavior of structures since 1987, and authored what is reportedly the first technical paper on this methodology in 1990, followed by development of approaches to repair and retrofit civil construction with composites. I hadn’t heard much about Ehsani and QuakeWrap recently until today, when I received an email and a video that caught me up on some of the projects the company has tackled successfully.

We’ve written about the company before. A 2013 story featured a project in which a building in Beirut, Lebanon was reinforced against blast loads using composite fabrics wet out with resins and applied to the walls, both to strengthen the building and to act as a catcher system to prevent debris and wall fragments from entering the building and injuring the occupants. Here’s a link to our 2013 story: http://www.compositesworld.com/news/quakewrap-frp-used-to-reinforce-un-building-in-beirut-lebanon. A YouTube video here shows a demonstration of the effects of blast hardening using a QuakeWrap solution: 

Another story describes how QuakeWrap was awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to further develop its InfinitPipe concept, also trademarked as StifPipe. Developed by Ehsani, the patent-pending InfinitPipe allows onsite manufacturing of carbon fiber composite pipes that can be miles long without any joints. This is possible because the walls of InfinitPipe are made of a lightweight honeycomb core with carbon fiber as skin reinforcement. This reduces the weight of the pipe to nearly 10 percent of conventional pipes. According to Ehsani, “The mobile manufacturing unit can produce the pipe in a continuous joint-free manner, burying the finished pipe in a pre-cut trench as the equipment travels along the trench.” Just last year, StifPipe received the 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers Innovation Award in the category of “Green Engineering.” Here’s a link to the initial CW story on InfinitPipe: http://www.compositesworld.com/news/quakewrap-wins-sbir-grant-for-pipe-manufacturing-concept. Here’s a link to QuakeWrap’s 2016 press release about receiving the ASCE award: http://pipemedic.com/pdfs/QuakeWrap_2016_ASCE_Innovation_Award_for_StifPipe.pdf. And, here’s a video showing StifPipe in action, in Australia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7U31feYxbY&feature=youtu.be.

The bottom line is that this company continues to use carbon fiber composites to improve installed infrastructure, around the world, as evident in today’s short video, which you can watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Pbyak_JPw.  The company now has a presence on the African continent, and has secured a strategic partner in South America. Recent projects include pipeline repairs in Queensland, Australia, a penstock retrofit in Costa Rica and a large-diameter pipeline repair in Indonesia. The company will have a booth at two upcoming infrastructure events: the Underwater Intervention exhibition in New Orleans, LA, US from February 21-23, and the No-Dig Show focused on trenchless pipe rehabilitation, April 9-13, 2017 in Washington, DC, US. And, Ehsani is in Washington today, invited by ACMA to be part of the discussion on US infrastructure repair strategies for the foreseeable future.