We’ve been using steel for centuries, with evidence suggesting steel tools have been around for 4,000 years. It wasn’t until the 1850s, however, that the Bessemer process, a technique for mass producing steel, was discovered. The steel industry exploded, as well as the use of reinforced concrete.
While still one of the strongest building materials in existence, steel reinforced concrete structures are affordable and last a long time. There is the issue of corrosion, though. Steel reinforced concrete rusts and, while methods exist to slow the process, it’s an inevitable occurrence. There are alternatives to steel bars, but none have caught on industry wide. Some fiber-polymer composite options include glass, basalt, aramid and carbon.
In recent years, glass fiber reinforced polymer has caught the interest of researchers. One study comparing GFRP and steel rebar concluded that “GFRP reinforcing bar has higher tensile strength and higher corrosion resistance than steel rebar.” The study also reported that based on the researchers’ results, GFRP is a good alternative for steel in foundations. The research for GFRP shows the material is promising on many other fronts as well:
- It’s strong but light
- Chemically resistant
- Easier to transport
- More sustainable
Some suggest that alternatives like GFRP may come with a higher price tag up front, but the life-cycle cost is significantly lower than maintaining and repairing steel reinforced structures. Glass doesn’t rust, and it is resistant to UV damage, leading to fewer cracks, among other positives.
Steel reinforced concrete is a staple material for engineers, but cost and strength comparisons show that glass fiber reinforced polymer concrete could be a viable alternative.
No matter what your organization decides to produce, Standley Batch can design a plant or retrofit your current facility for an optimized product that increases profit. Click here to contact us.