Australian firm makes fire-safe, filament-wound, composite concrete pole

Dulhunty Power Ltd. in Australia will make the Eco-Titan composite pole, manufactured of concrete, Owens Corning CemFIL AR glass fibers and a vertical winding process.

Dulhunty Power Ltd. (North Ryde, Australia) announced on Sept. 15 that it has manufactured what it says is the world's first fullscale production facility to produce composite power distribution poles that provide strength, durability and fire resistance by combining the three technologies of filament-winding, high-performance concrete and alkali-resistant (AR) glass reinforcements.

Developed by CMT Worldwide and Langdale Industries, the Eco-Titan composite pole is made with lightweight concrete, Owens Corning CemFIL AR glass fibers and a vertical winding process that maximizes the performance of the raw materials and includes no metal.

The result is:

  • Glass fiber reinforcement percentage by weight of 15 percent, which is three times the 5 percent typically achieved in a glass-reinforced concrete application
  • Total weight that is less than half the weight of a comparable wooden pole while achieving break and deflection test results that are well within current standards
  • Non-flammable and impervious to the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunshine
  • Non-corrosive, nonconductive and no electromagnetic interference

A study comparing the carbon footprint of the composite concrete pole with other poles typically used found the composite concrete pole to have the smallest carbon footprint of any of the manufactured poles. It was second only to treated wood at the 50-year expected lifespan of the wooden pole. At the projected 70-year lifespan for the composite concrete pole, the carbon footprint of the composite pole was superior.

According to CMT Worldwide, the global distribution pole market is moving to engineered products for safety, cost and ease of use. The share of market for alternative materials is now approaching 40 percent and expected to continue growing rapidly in the next five to 10 years.

"Eco-Titan composite poles are the first truly new product for the power distribution market in 15 years," says Allen Sells, president of CMT Worldwide. "Our combination of materials and process technology results in an incredibly strong high-performance pole with excellent strength-to-weight qualities and the lowest carbon footprint of any manufactured pole product."

Owens Corning supported development of the composite concrete pole with technology for the reinforcements and fabrics. "Glass fiber-reinforced concrete poles combine the benefits of composites and concrete," said Benoit Lorre, business development leader, Cem-FIL glass fibers. "The result is a strong, lightweight and fire-safe pole that gives the market another way to move to composites and away from wood."

Dulhunty Power was the first licensee outside North America. Poles from the company's plant in Moolap, Victoria, Australia, provide an option for utilities facing the threat of bushfire events each summer. Fires in the state of Victoria in February 2009 burned poles and downed power lines.

Fire testing was carried out earlier this year at Western Fire Center Inc. (Kelso, Wash., USA). The two-step process subjected poles to accelerated weathering and direct flame. The test report from Western Fire said the composite concrete poles demonstrated performance it deemed "excellent."