Uses of Fiberglass Pipe and Large Diameter Fiberglass Pipe

Applications and Key Benefits

uses of fiberglass pipeSince the mid to late 1980’s underground large-diameter composite piping has continued to grow in applications and usage. Technological advancements in the filament winding process, corrosion resistance, education and outreach, and strong market forces have contributed to the popularity of fiberglass pipe. Definitions of what constitutes large-diameter pipes can vary, but generally speaking they range from 12” to 14’ in diameter. 

Composite, or fiberglass pipe, has been utilized in a wide range of industries such as power generation, petrochemical and desalination.  Fiberglass pipe is corrosion resistant, has a life cycle that often exceeds 30 years, and has become increasingly more desirable as an alternative to steel, other metal alloys, ductile iron, and concrete.  According to an article published in 2008, titled “Large Diameter Pipe: Lasting Function in a World of Growth” more than 60,000 km (37,280 miles) of composite large diameter pipe are in operation around the world. 

Although fiberglass was once viewed as specialty product, for its ability to withstand an attack from sulphuric acid, it has now become a standard material, if not the standard in major market segments for a variety of reasons.  For example, fiberglass has been employed in drinking water projects, irrigation systems for agriculture, feed lines and penstock for hydroelectric power plants, power plant cooling water systems, gravity and pressure sanitary sewers systems, and pipeline rehabilitation “slip liners”.  Over the past two decades fiberglass has begun to transcend it’s early stereotypes as a one-trick pony (e.g. corrosion resistance) and has demonstrated its value as a cost-effective material, offering a plethora of end-user benefits.

Chief among the reasons for fiberglass increased usage and popularity are key benefits such as high strength-to-weight ratio, dimensional stability, good mechanical properties, ease of installation, reduced installation costs, reduced maintenance cost, and overall durability in extreme conditions. Similarly, another advantage of fiberglass pipe is it has a smoother inner surface when compared to traditional construction materials.  This attribute, smooth internal bore, resists scale-deposits and can create greater flow of service liquid over the life of the project.

When designing an underground large diameter pipe system many considerations need to be taken into account; local soil conditions, depth of water table, burial loads, live loads, deflection due to burial stress and operating temperatures—just to name a few.   Similarly, an American Water Works Association manual, Fiberglass Pipe Manual, also known as M45, provides equations that take into account factors such as fluid velocity and fluid pressure, head loss due to turbulent flow, water hammer, buckling pressure, and surge pressure.  Designing a proper underground piping system is a complex process that involves extensive calculations—product design should always be by qualified engineers. 

What is an FRP Corrosion Barrier?

frp corrosion barrierFiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP) are well known for their abrasion and corrosion resistant properties. FRP are a composite material; they combine two or more different constituents into a one unique material; resins and fibers combine to yield a finished composite product. Fibers contribute the majority of the strength to finished product while resins provide corrosion resistance and channel stress to the fibers. There are two broad families of resins—thermosetting and thermoplastic. In the case of fiberglass and FRP we are referring to thermosetting resins.  Thermosetting resins cure to produce an infusible material that does not melt when heated.  Conversely, thermoplastic materials have a definite melting point.

Many different laminate types make up a custom laminate schedule. For example the Mat Layer laminate type is commonly used because it creates an excellent structural reinforcement, good wet out characteristics, sufficient clarity to observe entrained defects; various glass fiber mats are selected depending on the application and service conditions. Other examples of laminate types are corrosion barrier, inner wall and structural wall.  In addition, there are multiple laminate construction methods such as contact molded, filament wound, vacuum infusion, centrifugal, and pultrusion—to name a few. 

The corrosion barrier, also sometimes referred to as the corrosion liner, is typically a combination of one or multiple plies of resin-saturated C glass or synthetic veil against the process surface, followed by two or more plies of mat.  Each resin rich layer acts as a defense against chemical attack; generally speaking layers vary from 75%-90% resin by weight, however formulations may vary depending on design specifications.  For example, the corrosion barrier and structural layer will vary in thickness depending on the intended use (i.e. aggressive chemical environments and elevated temperatures).

Typical Functions of the Corrosion Barrier

  • Corrosion resistance
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Chemical resistance

Although it is not always the case high quality FRP products are generally made using polyester or vinyl ester resins which posses great thermal, physical and corrosion resistance properties.  You should always discuss resin selection with a resin manufacturer or your engineering team.  Corrosion liner or barrier considerations and resin selection are extremely important to the overall design of your composite product.

There’s a New Tank in Town

From the Bakken and Three Forks to the Eagle Ford Shale – There’s a New Tank in Town

Maybe you’re sitting in small family owned diner in Williston, ND ordering breakfast.  It’s early, the sun is just coming up, but you can’t help noticing that the place is jam-packed—barely enough elbowroom for people to get their coffee and go. The people are lively and there is an indescribable energy in the room. The business coming into towns like this is non-stop and the people are salt of the earth, roughnecks, truckers, locals—all filling up on good food before a hard day’s work.

Oil and gas boomtowns like Williston, ND and are becoming an iconic part of the new American landscape. Prior to oil and gas showing up ranchers may have joked that in order to make it raising cattle you needed to start with a large fortune. For the moment, and foreseeable future that’s all changed—economies in these boomtowns are growing rapidly and there are jobs to go around. But it’s not just happening in North Dakota, it’s happening in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—among other states.

If you’ve never heard of the Bakken Shale before you may be living under a rock.  The Bakken is a world-class shale formation located in North Dakota that contains even more energy resources potential then previously thought. On April 30, 2013 the US Geological Survey released it most recent analysis of the shale deposit and concluded that there are approximately 7.4 billion barrels (double its previous calculations), making it the largest oil field in the country.

All this good news for oil and gas and energy independence means growth in other areas too. I’m not just thinking of the local economies. I’m also thinking of fiberglass and FRP products, specifically corrosion resistant tanks, vessels and pipe that are utilized by the petrochemical industry. One of the many challenges facing oil and gas operators is finding high quality corrosion resistant solutions to transport, handle and batch fracking fluid, HCL and other corrosive media.

A critical component of the war waged on corrosion is finding an engineer-design-manufacture company of corrosion resistant tanks that has the intelligence and know-how to interface FRP tanks/products with their fleet of trucks. In addition, the tanks need to meet the customer’s specifications, including aesthetics, and be able to operate effectively under the specified operating conditions.

Fiberglass or FRP are viewed by many as one of the most cost-effective materials that can be used to address or mitigate the impacts of corrosion. Fiberglass is often chosen to replace flake lined steel and tnemec lined/coated tanks, which have been susceptible to leaks presumably caused by twisting and flexing, bonding methods and thermal expansion. Fiberglass is a unique material that provides long life cycles and durability. Fiberglass offers a high strength-to-weight ratio and dimensional stability. Where other materials fall short or succumb to corrosion and general wear and tear, fiberglass thrives and endures—an important distinction in the oil and gas fields.

Beetle is a competitive company driven by the pursuit of fiberglass excellence. We have the ability to match volume, supply and quality demands.  Our product opportunities go far beyond the tank. For example, we can create a multitude of custom add-ons such as barbed flanges, fenders, dip tubes, roll-over protection, man ways, and ladders—to name a few.

Click here to Contact Us and see how we can help with your storage and processing requirements.

See how Beetle solved a customer’s corrosive chemical storage problem using a fiberglass tank!

Fiberglass Resins 101

fiberglass resinsThere are many fiberglass resins available and each has unique characteristics.  You’ll want to discuss specific applications and operating conditions with a resin supplier and or the engineer and design services team you’ve selected to work with on your FRP project.  This will help to ensure that your resin selection is appropriate and in concert with your service needs and specifications.  Similarly, the engineers you work with may want to view detailed chemical resistance resin data when making critical design considerations.  You can typically find this data in a resin manufactures selection guide.

The most commonly used thermosetting resin families are vinyl ester, bisphenol-A fumarate polyester, teraphthalic polyester and isophthalic polyester.  Similarly, each family or resin has its own unique usefulness depending on the application and operating conditions (i.e. temperature, pressure etc.)

Four Common Resin Families

  • Vinyl ester
  • Bisphenol-A fumarate polyester
  • Teraphthalic polyester
  • Isophthalic polyester

Provided below is some basic information that pertains to common resins used when designing FRP products for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications.

Polyester Resins are thermoset polyesters. They are versatile, offer good dimensional stability and have good mechanical, chemical-resistance and electrical properties.

Vinyl Ester Resins are flexible (double bonded vinyl group) in nature and are useful when creating products that are designed to withstand flexing, impacts or compression. 

Epoxy Resins have an extended range of properties when compared to polyester and vinyl ester resins.  They demonstrate extremely low shrinkage, good dimensional stability, high temperature resistance, as well as good fatigue and adherence to reinforcements.  In addition, they have excellent resistance to basic (alkali) environments/solutions.  Generally speaking, epoxies require heat curing to develop higher heat distortion temperatures.

Polyurethane Resins are known throughout the fiberglass industry for their durability and robustness.  They are flexible in nature and can be used in a wide variety of applications.

Phenolic Resins posses many desirable attributes in the fiberglass world.  They offer formability to complex contours, as well as flexibility. They are heat and chemical resistant and demonstrate flame retardance. They are ideal for high temperature applications where parts/components must meet fire safety, smoke emission, and combustion and toxicity requirements.  In addition, they also have electrical non-conductivity characteristics.

Hybrid Resins are unique in that they are a customized blend of various resins and fillers to create superior properties that allow you to optimize your design and product.

For fiberglass products to perform right in the field, it takes more than just quality manufacturing and resin selection. It takes a high level of engineering and design skills with project related expertise – the kind that comes from years of experience. Beetle Plastic’s engineers have the experience, skills and the knowledge, to help you with virtually any project related to fiberglass and FRP applications.

Contact Us to learn more.

Pipe Support Systems

In general terms, industrial piping systems refer to a series of pipes used to transport materials from one location to another and also encompass pipe support systems.  A pipe support is a device or component designed to carry the weight of the pipe, any in-line equipment and the material in the pipe over a defined span.

In specific terms, the four main functions of a pipe support system is to guide, anchor, absorb shock, and support a specified load.  In addition, depending on the operating conditions (i.e. high or low temperatures) pipe support systems may contain insulation materials.

Four Main Functions of Pipe Support Systems

  • Guide
  • Anchor
  • Absorb Shock
  • Support a Specified Load

Types of Pipe Supports

  • Pipe Guide—directs and controls the motion of a defined span of pipe
  • Pipe Anchor—rigid support that restricts movement
  • Shock Absorber—absorbs or dissipates energy from the piping system

*Pipe supports can be designed for vertical, axial and/or lateral loading combinations.

Pipe System Design

The overall design configurations of a pipe support system will be determined by many factors such as loading, temperature, vacuum and other operating conditions. Although there are some basic guidelines used when designing FRP systems it is critical to note that each system is unique and must be treated as such. Thus, a detailed custom design is a crucial step when building a precision FRP pipe support system.

There are many considerations when designing a pipe systems and pipe support system; design temperature, design stresses (i.e. tension), design pressure, material densities,  thermal expansion, pressure expansion, modulus of elasticity, and thermal conductivity—just to name a few.

Pipe System Materials

Pipe support systems are generally made of FRP, structural steel, carbon steel, stainless steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, or ductile iron. FRP pipe supports have many unique  advantages over metal alloys.  For example, FRP can be formulated to be corrosion and abrasion resistant.

Other key FRP benefits include high strength-to-weight ratio, ease of installation, and dimensional stability (non-isotropic). Furthermore, FRP are well known for their long life cycles, reduced maintenance and their ability to withstand and perform exceptionally in extreme conditions. Moreover, FRP pipe supports have been utilized around the world in heavy industrial applications from pulp and paper and chemical processing to power generation—FRP are cost-effective construction materials.

We have over 50 years of fiberglass experience.  Leverage our key strengths; expert design intelligence, capacity, unmatched precision capabilities and exceptional field services.  We design, engineer and manufacture a wide range of custom FRP products including pipe supports.

Pultruded Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer for Power Generation Plant

pultruded fiberglassWhen a customer came to us with an existing metal and wood scaffolding maintenance platform that needed to be replaced with a permanent material solution, we said no problem!

When designing fiberglass stairs, railings, platforms, and other structural products the unique properties of FRP make it a perfect solution. Some of the key properties to consider when designing structural products are:

  • Strong, lightweight, durable, will not rot or decay
  • Corrosion resistant, slip resistant, ultraviolet resistant, and non conductive
  • Molded in color reduces maintenance costs such as painting and coating
  • Can be customized in accordance with OSHA design specifications
  • Long-term maintenance costs are reduced

To see  how we used custom pultruded FRP to solve our customers maintenance platform problem, download the full case study here or by following the link below.

Fiberglass Corrosion Resistance and the Mining Industry

Corrosion is an inevitable part of the human experience; presently, approximately 44% of the world’s population lives within 150 kilometers of the coast, more than the entire world’s population in 1950. While corrosion has historically been defined as the destructive oxidation of metallic materials, recent definitions include the degradation of any material and its intended loss of function by exposure to and interaction with its environment.

Corrosion can result from a wide range of conditions and thus can be characterized many different ways. For example, corrosion in the mining industry is often characterized as corrosion enhanced by abrasion—this is especially true for pipe and pumping systems used in many mining/milling processes. It’s also important to note, the wide range of conditions that can cause corrosion, and because mine atmospheres and waters are unique and vary from one location to the next, make each corrosion related problem difficult to plan for. This particular type of challenge makes material selection a critical component of most corrosion management strategies.

Fiber Reinforced Polymers in the Mining Industry

Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP), or fiberglass, is an excellent construction material. Used throughout the world in a wide range of industrial and non-industrial applications, FRP boasts cost-effectiveness, design flexibility, dimensional stability, high strength-to-weight ratio, durability, and low maintenance costs—among other things. FRP products have been employed effectively in a diversity of applications, including pulp and paper, chemical processing, power generation, wastewater management, desalination, aerospace, architectural, food and beverage, and mining and minerals—among much else.

In the mining industry there are many types of corrosion that plague equipment and infrastructure, but in many cases it is characterized as corrosion enhanced by abrasion. FRP continues to gain in popularity as a material solution for pump and piping systems in the mining and mineral industries.

Click the button below to read the whitepaer and learn how fiberglass is perfectly suited for managing corrosive materials used in mining operations.

Unique FRP Design Offers Solution To Flash Freezing

frp designFiber Reinforced Polymers (FPR), or fiberglass, is an excellent construction material.  Used throughout the world in a wide range of industrial and non-industrial applications, FRP boasts cost-effectiveness, design flexibility, dimensional stability, high strength-to-weight ratio, durability, and low maintenance costs—among other things. 

FRP has gotten a lot of positive attention lately for other benefits; FRP is corrosion and abrasion resistant and smoke and flame retardant.  An often glossed over advantage of FRP is its versatility; it can be made into nearly any shape—which comes in handy when designing for solutions that require a complex design, one that includes electronics, for example.

In the mining industry there are many types of corrosion that plague equipment and infrastructure, but in many cases it is characterized as corrosion enhanced by abrasion.  FRP continues to gain in popularity as a material solution for pump and piping systems in the mining and mineral industries.  In large part this is because FRP pipe can be formulated to resist abrasion and many types of corrosion; FRP will resist pitting, crevice, intergranular, galvanic, and cavitation types of corrosion, for example.

Equally important are the non-corrosive problems that exist in mining and plant operation.  One such well-documented problem exists when conveying coal from stockpile to boiler or around the mine site during frigid winter months.  Known throughout the industry as “flash freezing,” the problem begins anytime coal being transported or stored, picks up moisture, via snow or rain and comes into contact with metal that is at sub-freezing temperatures for extended periods of time.  When wet or frozen coal comes into contact with steel or other alloys at sub-freezing temperatures an instantaneous bond is formed. 

Flash freezing is a mining and plant operation problem that has been known to shut down production due to blocked conveyors, chutes and hoppers; a costly problem that in some cases requires pneumatic drilling to resolve.  One company has designed what they call a “Freeze Protection System” which consists of FRP heating panels.  The unique design incorporates a flat foil heating system, sewn into high quality woven glass and is encapsulated in a ¼” think lamination of FRP.  Units (panels) are placed around the chute, hopper, or silo and provide heat and insulation—alleviating flash freezing.

This is just one example of how FRP design intelligence and ingenuity is helping to solve industrial problems.  This example illustrates what is possible with FRP.  There is no question that FRP technology is increasing, but the question remains—how will it be employed in the future and what capacity?  In the case of “flash freezing” in the mining industry, what other ways can FRP be utilized to increase production?  Could FRP products replace steel transport cars?  Similarly, with a low coefficient of friction and good insulation properties could an FRP liner be used inside steel cars or dump tucks?

One thing is for certain; FRP is cost-effective material that continues to be used where other materials fall short.  FRP is a juggernaut; it has the ability to withstand the harshest most extreme environments and has long unmatched life cycles. While some problems may be less pervasive than others, or beckon a more niche solution, there is no denying that there are real opportunities for FRP manufactures. 

From mining and minerals, power generation, and chemical processing to pulp and paper, wastewater treatment and architectural—fiberglass is a durable construction material that has proven it’s worth, time and time again.

Beetle Plastics to Attend the ACMA Corrosion, Mining and Infrastructure Conference

Beetle PlasticsMay 15-16, 2013 Denver, Colorado

Beetle Plastics is attending the Corrosion, Mining and Infrastructure (CMI) Conference, on May 15-16, 2013 in Denver, CO at the Denver Marriot Tech Center. The conference is being organized and produced by the American Composites Manufacturing Association with support from the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME).

As an exhibitor, Beetle Plastics’ primary focus is to provide end-users, as well as engineers in mining, corrosion, and infrastructure industries with technical information pertinent to their field. Similarly, Beetle hopes to build upon the central themes and goals of the forum to enhance their long-lasting relationships and to discuss advancements made in composites over recent years.

According to the ACMA, the CMI conference theme, “Digging Down and Building Up with Composites,” describes a program designed to give attendees a competitive edge as they learn about the next generation of composites and how they compete against traditional materials to reduce costs in the construction, corrosion, and mining and infrastructure markets.

Special keynote sessions and panel discussions with industry leaders will be offered along with case studies and technical presentations. This in addition to 30 planned educational sessions should make for an energetic, informative, and stimulating learning environment. Example discussion topics include; “Why Composites?”, “FRP Pipe and Fitting Design,” and “Mineral Processing—Managing Corrosion with Non-Metallic’s.”

Beetle Plastic’s will be located at booth number 314. For more information regarding how you can attend the CMI Conference please visit the ACMA website.