By Fred Tingberg Jr.
A compelling technology is emerging from the shadows of structural failures making world news, including the recent Surfside condo collapse in Florida. In conventional concrete reinforcement systems, cracking concrete exposes steel rebar to the effects of salt water, sulfide gas, and other aggressive chemicals.
Basalt Fiber Reinforced Polymer or “BFRP” offers an economical, practical and “green” means of structural reinforcement. BFRP has a strength 2.5 times that of steel, and a weight 25% that of its ferrous counterpart. This low carbon footprint material is inert in acids, caustics, salt and sulfide gas, making it corrosion proof. BFRP boasts a carbon footprint of approximately one-tenth that of steel. BFRP is produced in all common rebar sizes, as a reinforcement mesh and as loose fibers for direct inclusion into concrete ready mixes.
Basalt Rock is one of the most common materials on the planet occurring naturally throughout the United States. The purity and fine-grained nature of Basalt Rock allow for it to be melted down at 1500’C and extruded into long filaments. These are chopped into small fibers, woven into geogrid or “pultruded” into Basalt Fiber/Epoxy composite REBAR.
BFRP Rebar eliminates corrosion as a design consideration, and offers a competitive, alternative with no supply chain disruptions for use in many forms of concrete reinforcements. Applications include seawalls, sewer manholes, pilings, slabs, bridge decks and structures where cracking concrete otherwise exposes steel to corrosion.
MEP Engineering installed an application in Miami Beach along Venetian Causeway requiring seawall renovation and elevation modification to satisfy rising tide considerations. The BFRP rebar is inert to salt water corrosion, and this lightweight steel alternative allowed easy transport through Miami Beach’s causeway bridge system which enforces very prohibitive weight limits. This is significant where municipalities may be forced to bear the cost of seawall replacement of deteriorated panels and to accommodate rising tides.
Other recent applications in Florida include concrete structures installed by Giannetti Contracting in Pompano Beach, sanitary manholes in Broward County and storm structures in Indian Creek Village.
Challenging the construction industry are shortages of steel and other raw materials. “Buy America Clauses” prohibit the use of foreign steel which otherwise alleviate long lead-times for adequate supply of domestic product. Basalt Fiber Reinforced Polymer products are domestically produced and readily available.
There is extensive testing of Fiber Reinforced Polymer products which are represented in standards published by ACI, USDOT, AASHTO and ASTM including FDOT inclusion of these products categorically in their Standards for Road and Bridge Construction.
These products exceed requisite strength and durability properties while offering service life rated at two times that of materials they are replacing. Less trucking, smaller equipment and installation efficiencies augment the primary benefit which is non-corrodible in salt water and sulfide gas environments. This lighter, greener and lower cost product group is emerging as a major player in today’s construction markets.
In seawalls, roadways, bridges, concrete storm and sanitary structures, pilings, beams and decks; Basalt Fiber Reinforced Fiber technology serves wherever concrete reinforcement is required and corrosion is not.
Fred Tingberg Jr. is Director-Chief Technology Officer,Basanite Industries