3B, Reprocover develop utility cover that uses recycled composites

Reprocover's composite utility cover uses 3B figerglass and 90 percent recycled content to develop a product that provides a viable alternative to traditional cast iron covers.

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3B-the fibreglass company (Battice, Belgium) announced on Nov. 23 that it has partnered with Belgian firm Reprocover to develop a sustainable solution for sewage, drainage and water supply applications. The product is a composite utility cover made of 90 percent recycled materials and commonly used to replace cast iron for the production of sewage trapdoors, manholes and utility access holes.

Replacing metal has long been the challenge of glass fiber-reinforced composites in order to reduce cost, complexity and weight. Alongside these attributes, two key performance criteria — superior impact performance and improved weatherability — have been achieved. This resulted in Reprocover and 3B developing a product range molded from a thermoset compound reinforced by 50 to 60 percent Advantex glass, from 3B.

The Reprocover breakthrough lies in its specialized process of grinding and mixing of the recycled materials. Reprocover also worked on the geometry of the different components of each product to maximize the load resistance to weight ratio. All of the applications can be easily fixed to PVC pipes, connections and inspection pits. The Reprocover’s products have been approved by Belgian Water Authorities.

“The concept created by Reprocover is a huge step forward. It really demonstrates how thanks to the replacement of metal by glass-reinforced composite, new markets and applications can benefit from the advantages of lightweight, design flexibility, corrosion resistance and easy processing. In addition, the products display dimensional stability over a large temperature range (from -40°C to 70°C) as well as a chemical resistance to salts and detergents. They open new opportunities in sewage and utility supply markets.” stated Dr. Eric Martin, thermoplastic product manager of 3B. “Within 3B, we are dedicated to developing sustainable and durable glass fibre reinforcement solutions. Recycling our glass fibre wastes is a key driver in our sustainability strategy and partnering together with Reprocover has enabled us to pursue the minimization of our environmental footprint“, he concluded.

Ludo Debergh, Reprocover founder and director, added, “Glass fiber plays a key role in Reprocover products, bringing high rigidity and outstanding load resistance. As an example, our 315-mm-diameter manhole can easily withstand a heavy pressure load without damage. Working with 90 percent of recycled materials can reduce the cost of existing cast iron solutions by a factor of five, while providing much superior adhesion to asphalt and concrete.” Manholes and trapdoors are the first product ranges of the Reprocover portfolio. “New opportunities are already idenfitied for utility supply housings, which can be seen in pavement. Considering all the metal parts which can be replaced, the opportunity is undoubtedly huge and the benefits are equally significant.”