Fibrelite composites reach the Antarctic
Fibrelite, leaders in composite technology, recently saw its design and technical team called upon to help an engineering team construct a specialist waste water treatment system for a facility in the Antarctic.
This specialist system is essential for treating all black and grey waste water generated on the base before it can be safely discharged into the sea.
David Holmes, Fibrelite’s Technical Director, explained: “The lead designer on this project came to us very early on with his brief which was very stringent: not only did the specifications require custom-designed access, other requirements included easy access to internal workings as well as needing to be chemically inert, corrosion-resistant and able to withstand extremely low temperatures.
“In addition, the rigorous rules requiring any base on Antarctica to leave little environmental impact meant that those working on the site would need to lift the covers regularly to ensure the system was working efficiently, so operator safety was also a critical requirement.
“Fortunately, our composite covers are available in a range of sizes and load ratings, and we can also make them to customer specifications as we did for this project. Designed to be a ‘fit-and-forget’ product, they are maintenance-free, lightweight, durable and very strong as a matter of course.
“And specialist lifting handles are all that is required for operators to remove the covers as and when required.”
Fibrelite, part of OPW which is a Dover Corporation company, is the world-leading manufacturer of innovative glass reinforced plastic (GRP). It has high volume manufacturing facilities in the US, UK and Malaysia.
For more information, please visit: www.fibrelite.com
University of Dresden constructs carbon concrete building
The Technical University of Dresden, in partnership with German architecture firm Henn, is constructing the first building to be made out of concrete and carbon fibre, rather than traditional steel.
The combination of materials, known as, “carbon concrete” has the same structural strength as its steel-reinforced alternative but less concrete is used, according to researchers at the university.
The building, called “The Cube” is currently under construction at the University of Dresden’s campus in Germany, and is believed to be the first carbon concrete building in the world. Strengthening the concrete, the carbon fibre yarns are used to create a mesh into which the concrete is then poured.
Unlike steel, the mesh is rust-proof meaning that the lifespan of carbon concrete is longer than that of the more typical steel-reinforced concrete. This also allows the layers to be much thinner than steel.
The design and shape of The Cube
According to the companies, the flexibility of carbon fibre allows the walls to fold up and become a roof. In a statement talking about the building’s design elements, Hen said: “The design of The Cube reinterprets the fluid, textile nature of carbon fibres by seamlessly merging the ceiling and walls in a single form, suggesting a future architecture in which environmentally conscious design is paired with formal freedom and a radical rethinking of essential architectural elements.
"The wall and ceiling are no longer separate components but functionally merge into one another as an organic continuum.” Displayed as a showpiece for TU Dresden’s major project, backed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, The Cube aims to explore the potential uses of carbon concrete in construction.
"Carbon concrete could contribute to more flexible and resource-saving construction processes, and switching to carbon concrete could reduce the CO2 emissions from construction by up to 50%," Henn said in a statement.
Bio-based carbon fibre under development to reduce carbon footprint
While carbon fibre may be lighter and stronger than steel, it has a much higher carbon footprint. Describing the material’s impact on the environment, Dr Erik Frank, Senior Carbon Scientist at the German Institute of Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf (DITF), said it is “usually very bad.” To reduce the carbon footprint, Frank is finding ways to make carbon fibre out of lignin, a common plant-based substance found in the paper manufacturing industry.