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Lightweight and corrosion-resistant patented structural alternative to steel that outperforms it and at lower cost

Resumen

Tipo:
Oferta Tecnológica
Referencia:
TOUK20200929001
Publicado:
07/10/2020
Caducidad:
08/10/2021
Resumen:
A UK SME has patented a truss structure made of Pultruded Fibre Reinforced Polymer (PFRP) box profiles that are joined without metal or adhesive. It supports the same load as steel but is 60% lighter and does not rust. CO2 emissions are cut by 80% compared to steel. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) cuts manufacturing cost to compete with steel. PFRP trusses, gantries and frameworks can now be built without metal. Easy shipping, re-use or recycling. Collaboration is sought under licence agreement.

Details

Tittle:
Lightweight and corrosion-resistant patented structural alternative to steel that outperforms it and at lower cost
Summary:
A UK SME has patented a truss structure made of Pultruded Fibre Reinforced Polymer (PFRP) box profiles that are joined without metal or adhesive. It supports the same load as steel but is 60% lighter and does not rust. CO2 emissions are cut by 80% compared to steel. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) cuts manufacturing cost to compete with steel. PFRP trusses, gantries and frameworks can now be built without metal. Easy shipping, re-use or recycling. Collaboration is sought under licence agreement
Description:
This UK Midlands-based SME, founded in 1991, comes with the experience and know-how to innovate and impact within the sector.

PFRP railway footbridges are expected to cost less than 25% of the cost of steel ones. This is due to a significant reduction in temporary works and work below ground. Adding carbon fibre strips, which are made by a specialist Danish company, increases bridge spans by 40%, for a cost increase of just 1%. This technology can substantially undercut the cost of steel.

Each PFRP truss is made from two sizes of box profile to make flanges and webs. The larger profile is for flanges and the smaller box makes diagonal and vertical webs, which are simply cut to length using CNC. They are connected by 24mm diameter threaded fibreglass rods inside verticals and glass-filled nylon nuts. These have been tested to 80kN, so have a 5-tonne working load. Nuts are enclosed in top and bottom chords. A snap-fit cap prevents them unscrewing and protects them from fire. Box profiles can be mass-produced by the pultrusion process at the lowest cost. Other parts can be cheaply moulded, to make a structure that is cheaper than steel, and the superior properties of PFRP allow different solutions that are more environmentally-friendly. Trusses can be built at right-angles on each box face. They can be joined in different directions, as well as intersect. This versatility enables a range of three-dimensional structures like gantries and frameworks, which are quick to assemble or disassemble.

Railway footbridges are part of a bigger market for footbridges and cycle ways. This technology provides a lower cost solution that is easier to install than steel. It is durable and offers a lifetime without maintenance, even in marine environments that corrode other materials.

Rising sea levels due to global warming create a need for new coastal engineering. Both of the two strong materials, steel and reinforced concrete, are susceptible to saline corrosion. Once installed, they cannot be moved. Defences against rising sea levels need to be movable to accommodate rapidly changing coastlines that leave static investments stranded. This technology is a fibreglass alternative that meets this challenge.

Both yachts and moorings can now be made of fibreglass, and in yachts is made as chopped-strand mat, requires a gel-coat and some have been subject to osmosis. Degradation of these materials disturbs marine life. Pultruded fibreglass that is stiffer and stronger, avoids these problems. It can make structures from moorings and jetties, to swing-bridges and buildings, without any disturbance to marine life.

Yacht owners also like accommodation near their yachts. Mild steel structural elements tend to rust rapidly in sea air, particularly in smaller sections customarily used for domestic scale buildings. Reinforced concrete as a seaside construction medium is vulnerable to saline induced corrosion. It initially causes the steel reinforcement to blow off its concrete cover, which exposes it more directly to the aggressive effects of sea air.

Wood can be damaged by wind scour and is more likely to decay when subjected to extreme wetting and drying cycles, as would be the case on a harbour frontage or in a marina.

Fibreglass offers a low-cost alternative to both, that is as strong as steel and more durable than timber. It can be combined with non-structural timber that is far less expensive. This creates a more comfortable living environment that responds passively to climate change and saves energy. This alternative offers a sustainable solution that captures carbon and cost less.

The UK SME seeks collaboration or partnership with companies interested in applying this technology to their sector where this alternative might represent a commercial and cost-effective advantage to their competitors. The collaboration sought aims for this technology to be exploited through licence agreement.
Advantages and Innovations:
- It is the first all-FRP truss structure that competes with steel on cost.
- PFRP is much lighter. It is resistant to corrosion, electricity and fatigue.
- It is 150 times more thermally resistant than steel and needs no maintenance.
- 15% of all CO2 emissions come from making steel and cement used to make concrete. With PFRP pile foundations, steel and concrete can be eliminated.
- Lighter weight means easier handling that uses less energy.
- Electrical resistance assists in electrification projects, such as on the railways.
- Corrosion resistance is effective in coastal and marine areas, where sea salt attacks steel.
- Thermal resistance can eliminate thermal bridging in building structures.
- Maintenance-free bridges don´t need painting.
- Quick assembly without steel nuts -Y- bolts is more efficient.
- Recycling is helped by lightweight, easy disassembly.
- It is a greener alternative to structural steel. It is as strong and stiff but has different physical properties that provide opportunities for innovation.

Stage of Development:
Project already started
IPs:
Patents granted,Granted patent or patent application essential
CommeR Statunts Regarding IPR Status:
Patents have been granted in the UK and US. They are pending in Europe, Canada, Australia and India. A UK licensee has been granted exclusivity in the UK railway market for five years.

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
The preferred licensee will be an SME active in a market where a structural alternative to steel can be introduced advantageously. Businesses that can respond quickly to changing markets, can also change those markets by introducing new solutions. Marketing a superior product that is protected from competition by a patent, will be very profitable. It requires an ability and willingness to rethink old solutions and the strength to market the alternative.

Some potential markets have already been described. There are many others. SMEs that know their market will see these opportunities. The company has the know-how to assist in fulfilling them.

The envisaged collaboration will involve integration and development of solutions under licensing agreement.

Client

Type and Size of Client:
Industry SME <= 10
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
No
Languages Spoken:
English

Keywords

Technology Keywords:
02006002 Construction methods and equipment
02006001 Materials, components and systems for construction
02008008 Transporte marítimo
02008004 Transporte por ferrocarril