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General Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Composition

In this excerpt from our newest eBook Chemical Processing eBook: FRP Applications, Opportunities, and Solutions we share some basic information on the composition of Fiberglass Reinforced Polymers (FRP).

There are four main ingredients that FRP are comprised of: resins, reinforcements, fillers, and additives/modifiers. Each ingredient is equally important and all ingredients play an important role in determining the properties of the finished FRP products. To simplify, think of the resin (polymer) as the glue or the binding agent. The mechanical strength is provided by the reinforcements.

Resins

The primary functions of the resin are to transfer stress between the reinforcing fibers, act as a glue to hold the fibers together, and protect the fibers from mechanical and environmental damage. Resins are divided into two major groups known as thermoset and thermoplastic. Thermoplastic resins become soft when heated, and may be shaped or molded while in a heated semi-fluid state and become rigid when cooled. Thermoset resins, on the other hand, are usually liquids or low melting point solids in their initial form.

Reinforcements: Fibers and Forms

Generally speaking there are four common types of fibers broadly used in the FRP industry: glass, carbon, natural, and arimid. Each has their advantages and applications. Similarly, reinforcements are available in forms to serve a wide range of processes, service and end product requirements. 10

Common materials used as reinforcement include woven roving, milled fiber, chopped strands, continuous chopped, and thermo-formable mat. Reinforcement materials can be designed with unique fiber architectures and be preformed (shaped) depending on the product requirements and manufacturing process.

Fillers

Fillers are used as process or performance aids to impart special properties to the end product. Some examples of inorganic fillers include calcium carbonate, hydrous aluminum silicate, alumina trihydrate, and calcium sulfate. In some circumstances fillers and additives can play a critical role in lowering the cost of compounds by diluting expensive resins and reducing the amount of reinforcements. Furthermore, fillers and additives improve compound rheology, fiber-loading uniformity, enhances mechanical and chemical performance, and reduces shrinkage.

Additives and Modifiers

Additives and modifiers perform critical functions despite their relative low quantity by weight when compared to the other ingredients such as resins, reinforcements and fillers. Some additives used in thermoset and thermoplastic composites include: low shrink/low profile (when smooth surfaces are required), fire resistance, air release, emission control, viscosity control, and electrical conductivity.

An important note is that FRP products can be custom made for their intended use. Understanding the intended function and services of the FRP, will aid the design and manufacturing processes to allow for an optimal finished product (i.e. corrosion resistance). Modifiers can include catalyst, promoters, inhibitors, colorants, release agents and thixotropic agents (i.e. fumed silica and certain clays).

Download our free ebook Chemical Processing eBook: FRP Applications, Opportunities, and Solutions to learn more about FRP.

More Fiberglass Terminology!

We recently shared some of the most common fiberglass terms and the explanations that could be found in our newest eBook Chemical Processing eBook: FRP Applications, Opportunities, and Solutions.

The Chemical Processing eBook is intended to be a supplemental tool to help you interact with the fiberglass industry. As part of the eBook we included a section on common fiberglass terminology, and  a few weeks ago we shared the four most common and useful fiberglass terms to know.

This week we thought we’d share four more common fiberglass terms to help increase your fiberglass literacy.

E-CR Glass- This type of reinforcement glass is similar in nature to E-Glass but does not contain boron or fluorine. Known for performing well in chemically hostile environments, specifically acidic and corrosive applications. E-CR glass is known to have higher temperature resistance, better mechanical properties, higher surface resistance, and better dielectric strength when compared to its predecessor E-glass.

Filament Winding-Filament winding is the process of winding resin-impregnated fiber or tape on a mandrel surface in a precise geometric pattern. This is accomplished by rotating the mandrel while a delivery head precisely positions fibers on the mandrel surface.

Hand Lay-up- One of the basic fiberglass fabricating techniques. The hand lay-up process uses a combination chopped –glass mat and woven continuous glass filament layered together with resin.

Spray-up- This process is similar in nature to hand lay-up and is also included in the general category of contact molding. Simply put, the spray-up process is an automated way of depositing chopped glass onto a structure. The spray-up process is particularly useful when filling a cavity or when glass mat or weave are too stiff for the design specifications.

Download our free ebook Chemical Processing eBook: FRP Applications, Opportunities, and Solutions. to learn more about FRP, fiberglass terminology, and corrosion.

Why Isophthalic Polyester Resins are Ideal for Fiberglass Fabrications

Unsaturated type resins, such as polyester resins, are thermoset, capable of being cured under the proper conditions. There are a broad range of polyesters made from different constituents, all having diverse properties—acids, glycols and monomers, for example. Throughout much of the composite or fiberglass industry, in traditional laminating, molding and casting systems two principle types of polyester resins are commonly used, they are orthophthalic polyester resins and isophthalic polyester resins respectively.

As a point of clarification to our audience, this article will address some critical differences between polyester resins which have lead us to select isophthalic polyester resins for the fabrication of fiberglass materials where a polyester type resin has been specified. The scope of this article is limited to polyester resins and will not attempt compare other types of resins in any detail.

Orthophthalic are known throughout the industry as a basic resin; many contend that orthophthalic resins are a lesser product than general-purpose resins. They are typically less expensive than other resin types, such as, isophthalic polyesters, vinyl esters, and epoxies. Their properties portfolio is inferior with respect to strength, chemical resistance and corrosion resistance when compared with other resin types including isophthalic polyesters.

A comparison of polyester resins, reveals that isophthalic have some key advantages over orthophthalic. Isophthalic polyester resins are undoubtedly of a higher-grade and offer substantially higher strength, better flexibility and chemical resistance. To illustrate the important differences further, in laboratory tests, a fiberglass reinforced isophthalic polyester resin panel showed 10% higher flexural and 20% higher tensile properties than a comparable panel using orthophthalic polyester resin.

It is clear that there are substantial differences between isophthalic and orthophthalic polyester resins. At Beetle we recognize those differences and aim to leverage the strengths of isophthalic resins when fabricating fiberglass materials where a polyester type resin has been specified. By leveraging these strengths we are able to optimize the performance of the fiberglass materials and provide you, our customer, with a high-quality, cost-effective materials solution.

FRP Products Meet a Diverse Set of Needs

FRP productsIt seems like every time we look at Twitter or the news we see another story about a new way manufacturers are using FRP. The versatility of FRP is one of the many things that make it a great construction and manufacturing material. We may not make fire hydrants or underwater turbines, but we do create a lot of FRP products like fiberglass pipe, duct, tanks, and vessels.

Fiberglass Pipe and Duct

Fiberglass pipe and ductwork can be used in virtually any application with diameters from 1/2 to 14 feet and the ability to be created with materials tailored to the specific end use.

Chemical Processing Pipe: FRP pipe is excellent for chemical processing because of its corrosion resistant properties.

Cooling Tower Pipe:Recognized as an industry standard, our cooling tower piping can be customized to meet almost any requirement.

Power Plant Pipe: FRP pipe and duct can be found in many power plant applications and processes.

Wastewater & Water Treatment Pipe: FRP waste water pipes can be used in above and below ground applications and offer a number of advantages over traditional materials like lightweight, durability, and strength.

Pulp and Paper Pipe: Ideally suited for the corrosive environments of the pulp and paper industry, FRP pipe can be found in many pulp and paper applications like sodium salts, methanol, and sulfuric acid.

Pipe Fittings: FRP fittings can be custom made to suit almost any need from bushings to reducers to everything in between.

Abrasion Resistant Pipe & Duct: Through careful selection of resin, reinforcements, and armoring modifiers we have created durable, customizable, abrasion resistant pipe.

Fiberglass Tanks and Vessels

Fiberglass tanks and vessels can be designed to custom design requirements to meet the needs of the individual customer. We offer a wide variety of tanks and vessels, including:

Did You Know? Thermal FRP Expansion

thermal frp expansionAccording to the Composites Growth Initiative of the American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA), the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion  is the change in length (or volume) per unit length (or volume) produced by a one degree Celsius rise in temperature.

While it is commonly thought that the thermal expansion of fiberglass is several times higher than carbon steels, this is not always the case and it’s an important fact that engineers can’t ignore.   According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B31.3 standard, FRP is at most 2.5 times that of carbon steel and at most 1.67 times that of stainless steels and, with some filament wound fiberglass reinforced plastics the difference is much less.

The rate of thermal expansion in FRP products is highly dependent upon the amount of glass in the product and the orientation of the glass. Again, according to ASME, this is because the thermal expansion of the resin is approximately 2.0 – 3.5 x 10-5 in./in./EF and the thermal expansion of the glass is only 0.28 x 10-5 in./in./EF.

Table 1

Typical Thermal Expansion Coefficients (valid up to 300F)

FRP

0.9- 1.5 x 10-5 in./in./EF

Carbon Steels

0.6 – 0.65 x 10-5 in./in./EF

Austenitic Stainless Steels

0.9 – 0.95 x 10-5 in./in./EF

90/10 Cu-Ni

0.9 – 0.95 x 10-5 in./in./EF

70/30 Cu-Ni

0.8 – 0.85 x 10-5 in./in./EF

Source: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, B31.3 Standard

Beetle Plastic’s fiberglass pipe is filament wound and, therefore, has different thermal expansion in the hoop and axial direction. In the hoop direction, the thermal expansion is about the same as steel. However, in the axial direction, the thermal expansion of the fiberglass pipe is about twice that of steel.

When designing FRP pipe systems there are other important considerations that will be influenced by the thermal expansion.  According to a case study released by the Fluid Sealing Association in 2006, “Mechanical considerations also are important. Since FRP is a composite, there are two distinctive axial modulii of elasticity: compression and tensile. The axial compression modulus of elasticity varies from3 to 10 percent that of steel.”  Similarly, another design consideration should be the relatively low modulus of elasticity of FRP pipe. It’s an advantage of FRP which should be figured into the design of a piping system.

To view the 2009 edition of the ASME B31.3 Process Piping Guide follow the link below:

http://beetleplastics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/process_piping_guide_R2.pdf

Contact us to learn more about our FRP and how we can help you meet your goals.

Implementing FRP Pollution and Odor Control for Wastewater Treatment

frp pollution controlFiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) components boast design flexibility and durability.  They are used in some capacity in most odor and air pollution control applications at wastewater treatment facilities. They have demonstrated usefulness in both biological odor control systems, as well as, industrial and municipal systems that utilize chlorine dioxide.  Furthermore, their corrosion resistant properties make them an ideal material to handle noxious and corrosive gases, such as hydrogen sulfide—a common byproduct of many wastewater treatment systems.

FRP has been employed in a wide range of waste water treatment applications, for example it is used to make scrubber vessels, pipe, ductwork, fans, stacks, and chemical feed systems.  In addition to direct use as odor control devices, FRP products are often used in wastewater applications for structures, such as grating and decking, or equipment that may be exposed to odorous and potentially corrosive environments.  One of the critical differences that truly separate FRP from metals and metal alloys is that it can be formulated to be corrosion and abrasion resistant in the harshest environments—this helps FRP achieve long service life in many applications from chemical processing, pulp and paper to petrochemical, water treatment, and mining and minerals.

According to a 2006 case study, titled, “Performance Validation of Shell-Media Biological Odor Control System,” published by the Water Environment Federation, a not- for profit technical and educational originization that represents water quality professionals around the world, FRP demonstrated it can play a key role in both structure and equipment demands. 

The pilot project was conducted by Orange County Utilities, Florida.  The test pilot used a shell-media based biological odor control system at the Stillwater Crossing Pump Station. The shell media has the desirable qualities of availability, low cost, long life, and high sustainability.  According to the study, the purpose of the pilot testing was to verify that the system could provide acceptable H2S and odor removal. A skid-mounted, modular pilot unit consisted of a bolted FRP paneled housing, seashell media, control panel, two FRP irrigation sumps, two water recirculation pumps, and a fan with unit-to-fan ductwork and a vertical exhaust stack.  A sampling program at the test site for duration of 8 months yielded good results in airflow and also demonstrated good odor removal efficiencies. 

Many questions still exist about what role FRP will play in this industry, but they have demonstrated their worth beyond this example as superior construction materials. Similarly, FRP have demonstrated their usefulness in plants that use chlorine dioxide, a powerful oxidant used for controlling noxious, irritating, or pungent odors.   FRP have many benefits that have made them ideal materials in the wastewater treatment industry.  For example, FRP have a high strength-to-weight ratio, offer impact resistance, UV resistance, are smoke and flame retardant, possess good dimensional stability, will not take on moisture, and are electrically and thermally non-conductive.

 

A Tale of Two Materials – Chemical Resistance of FRP vs Alloys in Wet Processes

chemical resistance of frpThere are many important predictors of service life in industrial chemical processes; for example, humidity, temperature, pressure, and stress.   Similarly, chemical resistance is a key predictor of FRP service life in phosphate fertilizer processes where high chloride and fluoride levels exist.  FRP have a considerable chemical resistance advantage in corrosive environments and they are cheaper to fabricate—all good news considering there is an increased demand for new corrosion solutions in these plants.

According to a case study titled, “The Use of FRP in Phosphate Fertilizer and Sulphuric Acid Processes,” (2007) released by Ashland Performance Materials, Dublin, OH,  FRP made from epoxy vinyl ester resin has the chemical resistance necessary for long-term service life- in many cases 50 years and counting. When compared to Alloy C-276 (clad carbon steel), 2205 stainless steel, and nickel alloy, FRP demonstrated superior chemical resistance and cost-effectiveness in “wet process” phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid environments found in phosphate fertilizer plants.

Epoxy Vinyl Ester Resin Chemical Resistance Compared to Metal

Materials

Sulfuric Acid

Hydrochloric Acid

Acid Chloride Salts

FRP made with epoxy vinyl ester resin

100˚C to 30%

80˚C to 15%

100˚C all conc.

2205 stainless steel

30˚C to 30%

60˚C to 1%

65˚C to 2000ppm @lower pH

Alloy C-276

100˚C to 30%

80˚C to 15%

65˚C to 50ppm @ lower pH

* Taken from the 2007 Ashland Performance Materials Case Study-
 “The Use of FRP in Phosphate Fertilizer and Sulphuric Acid Processes”

The demand for corrosion resistant products began to increase in 2007 when nickel hit an all time high of $24/lb. According to the International Monetary Fund, as the global economy strengthens and developing nations increase their infrastructure build, base metal pricing – most notably copper, nickel and stainless steel are expected to continue their upward march.  While the price of nickel has come down considerably the market is generally considered volatile and the demand for corrosion resistant products continues to increase.

According to a different study released in 2011, by Ashland Performance materials, considerable savings can be realized when choosing FRP construction materials.  In 2011, shop and field fabricated FRP approximately cost $50-$75/Sq Ft. compared to 2205 stainless steel at $225/Sq Ft. and C-276 clad carbon steel at $330/Sq Ft. respectively.

So where does this leave FRP and is there any anticipated growth? According to a 2009 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), titled “World Fertilizer Trends and Outlook to 2013,” based on longer-term population and income projections, global food production needs to increase more than 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050 –all things considered the phosphate and FRP industry could stand to benefit from the projected increased demand for calories, combined with upward trending metal prices.

As global food production increases along side population growth, so will the need for phosphate bases fertilizers —FRP will be ready.  FRP are a superior chemical and corrosion resistant materials option, at a price much lower and much more stable than that of traditionally used alloys such as nickel- in “wet process” phosphate fertilizer plants.  Furthermore, FRP provide engineers, architects, and designers with a reliable, cost-effective construction material that can be employed in a myriad of corrosive applications.

FRP Corrosion Control: Education Can Improve Opportunities

frp corrosionIf you’ve been paying attention to fiberglass trends you’d know that corrosion, a serious problem that pits and corrodes most metals and metal alloys, has created huge market opportunities for Fiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP) including pipe, duct, and tanks.  Despite the many opportunities FRP manufactures have seized over the years, some major obstacles still persist, chief among them is education—or getting the word out. 

According to a 2012 article published in Composite Technologies, titled “Industrial Corrosion Control: Huge Opportunities,” lack of awareness or understanding of FRP benefits is ubiquitous among engineers.  There are a handful of other agents at work which have hindered FRP gaining traction in some industries.  Among them are a general unfamiliarity with FRP products; engineers are unsure of what resins or glass to select, reluctance to try a new material, thermal performance, the inability to distinguish good manufactures from bad, engineering departments at higher-education institutes, and economic paradigms.

Another commonly sighted impediment to FRP growth is new technological advancements and the uncertainties that they bring.  According to a 2009 study, released by the World Corrosion Organization, one such example is evident when considering carbon sequestration technology. Specifically, regarding large-scale underground storage of carbon dioxide, (generated from power plant exhaust gases), where nearly 40 pilot sites have been proposed, 10 of which are in the U.S. 

The report points out that the integrity of downhole tubing and cementing is strongly endangered by CO2 corrosion due to much more severe environmental conditions than normally encountered in traditional oil and gas production.   FRP are viewed by many as a cost-effective choice in instances like this because of their known abilities to withstand stringent, corrosive environments and demonstrate long life cycles with lower maintenance costs, but it will be up to manufactures and suppliers of FRP materials to make the case for composites and help educate and assist engineers.

More research is currently underway examining the environmental conditions and stresses that the material will be exposed to.  The many unknowns associated with Carbon and Capture Storage (CCS) technologies will need to be reviewed thoroughly—unknown concentrations of impurities such as oxygen, carbon monoxide (CO), and sulfur-containing gases like sulfur dioxide (SO2) or hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that are inevitably present in exhaust gases and are expected to be corrosive.  FRP are seen as a potential material solution in this for piping and other construction materials under such conditions.

Geothermal power production is another example where big opportunities for FRP exist with increased education and outreach.  In the geothermal industry, corrosion of plant equipment and structures within and around geothermal power generation facilities can be a major problem.  Issues with corrosion primarily arise due to the presence of salts, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and silicates in the geothermal water, which cause localized corrosion and scale formation in wells and casings and power generating equipment. 

In both CCS and geothermal, technological advances have created new opportunities for FRP.   Many experts within each of these industries view FRP as a potential material solution for a variety of applications, but to overcome skepticism and uncertainty, education outreach efforts will need to be increased. Economic paradigms have already begun to shift in the past five to seven years, as the price of  metals have steadily rose allowing FRP to compete head to head against stainless steel and other alloys.  The bottom line is that as education regarding FRP continues so will the opportunities. 

For more information on our FRP and its uses, please visit us at http://www.beetlecomposites.com

FRP for Structural Repairs – The Advantages of Structural FRP

frp repairRecently featured by Energy-Tech Magazine, “ASME: Repair of pressure boundary and structural components with composites,” by John Charest is a great overview of the advantages of FRP when used for structural repairs.

“Deterioration of components and structures at power generating facilities has caused unscheduled plant outages, personnel safety concerns and significant impact on operating budgets. However, a new technology is available that can increase the usable life of components and structures, while significantly reducing the economic burden normally associated with repair or replacement options.” The new technology? Fiberglass reinforced polymers (FRP) of course.

FRP repairs offer a number of advantages over other material choices. FRPs tend to be light weight but strong and, “are comprised of high strength fibers in an epoxy matrix… These long fibers tend to have fewer defects, which leads to stiffer, stronger properties.” While strength is undoubtedly a huge advantage, one of the biggest advantages is the ease with which FRP repairs can be performed. “The work is performed quickly and can often be completed during regularly scheduled shutdown times.” The ability to perform repairs without plant downtime is a huge boon. The exact repair procedure is determined by the type of repair needed and the surface material the FRP will be applied over.

According to Charest, “Many of the FRP installations currently in-service at power generation facilities have been utilized to repair piping. Primarily, these installations have been made by applying the FRP on the inside of the piping. These applications have successfully provided pressure boundary and structural integrity.” FRP can also be used as, “a structurally acceptable method to rehabilitate aging plant equipment, piping and structures,” says Charest.

High strength-to-weight ratio, dimensional stability, long service life, and reduced maintenance cost combined with ease of installation make FRP an ideal repair material.

To read the full article, click here.

FRP for HCL Applications

frp for hclThere are many applications for hydrochloric acid (HCL).  From the manufacturing of high fructose corn syrup, dyes, phenols, and plastics to chemical intermediates such as ferric chloride which is used as a flocculant in sewage treatment and drinking water production. 

From picking, metal cleaning, to the ore reduction of metals (i.e. vanadium, tantalum, tungsten and tin) —hydrochloric acid has proven its usefulness throughout many industries.

Regardless of your industry if you use HCL you need a safe and economical way to handle this corrosive material.  FRP is an ideal solution for handling corrosive materials offering a myriad of benefits that will save money over the long-term.  The inherent corrosion resistant characteristic of our FRP makes it a cost-effective, strong, light-weight solution for corrosion resistant equipment applications in the chemical process industries and in water and waste water treatment areas.  Similarly, the design flexibility of FRP allows it to be adapted very easily to fill niche roles in many other industries, for example, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and HVAC.

FRP Has Long Service Life in Corrosive Environments

In a filament wound composite pipe, the cost of adding a corrosion barrier/liner is not all that great in comparison to the true cost of the pipe. The selection of the proper type and thickness of the corrosion barrier/liner can more than double the service life of the pipe.

FRP has a distinct advantage over metal alloys, such as titanium, and rubber-lined steel with lower installation costs, reduced maintenance, and long service life proven with over 20 years of successful operating experience at many plants and facilities around the world. More importantly, FRP is recognized as having superior corrosion resistance and abrasion resistance when compared to specialty alloy metals, in stringent chemical processing and in aggressive hydrometallurgical environments.

HCL Applications

  • Manufacture of Dyes, Phenols and Plastics.
  • Ore reduction (manganese, radium, vanadium, tantalum, tin and tungsten)
  • Food processing (corn, syrup, sodium glutamate)
  • Pickling and metal cleaning
  • Water treatment – Resin regeneration and demineralizers
  • Manufacture of chemical intermediates, such as FeCl3, ZnCL2, AlCl3, etc.
  • General Cleaning in households and in commercial, industrial and institutional establishments.

FRP Chemical Processing Applications

In the chemical processing industry FRP are typically used for pipes, ductwork, storage tanks and basins, absorption towers, drying towers, solvent extraction vessels, gas scrubbers, packed reaction columns, pressure vessels, process reaction vessels, stacks, process containment equipment, packing support systems, packed bed distributors, bed limiters, and distributor feed headers—to list some examples.  We offer FRP solutions; new design or an incremental improvement that will interface into an existing design—we have the capacity and capabilities to enhance your project.