Life Span of Concrete Storage Structures Extended

CANADA - A researcher with the University of Manitoba says replacing steel rebar with glass fibre reinforced polymers can dramatically increase the life span of concrete storage structures, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 23 September 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

A three year research project which began in 2000 looked at the use of glass fibre reinforced polymers to replace steel rebar in concrete used in the construction of tanks used for storing corrosive materials such as anhydrous ammonia fertilizer or liquid livestock manure.

The tests compared the durability of beams reinforced with glass fibre to those reinforced with steel rebar when immersed in liquid manure.

Dr. Aftab Mufti, the president of the ISIS Canada Research Network and a professor of civil engineering with the University of Manitoba, says glass fibre reinforced polymers are excellent at resisting corrosion and are very compatible with concrete.

Dr. Aftab Mufti-University of Manitoba

Concrete always cracks.

Whether the cracks are very thin or very large, eventually it allows the chemicals to penetrate through the concrete and they go inside the reinforcement and then they attack.

Once the reinforcement starts to deteriorate because of corrosion or because of acid and so forth then you see that the structure will lose its safety and its strength and so forth.

We found that GFRP performed very well.

In fact there was no attack as far as we could see happen on the GFRP.

Dr. Mufti estimates the cost of using glass fibre reinforced polymers will run from 10 to 15 percent higher that of steel rebar but the life span of the structure will double.

However, he notes, steel prices have been going up while glass fibre reinforced polymer costs have been coming down.

Dr. Mufti would like to see a real tank built as a field demonstration to test the long term durability of the technology.

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