Frost Engineering & Consulting along with Notre Dame CEEES researchers design and test fiber reinforced polymer framing alternatives.
Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) is a composite material made up of a polymer matrix reinforced with fibers. The fibers are usually composed of glass, carbon, or aramid. The polymer is usually composed of an epoxy, vinylester, or polyester thermosetting plastic. Pultrusion is a manufacturing process for producing continuous lengths of the reinforced polymer with constant cross sectional properties. The pultrusion process involves pulling raw materials through a heated steel forming die using a continuous pulling device.
While FRP has been utilized heavily for decades in aerospace, water and wastewater treatment and storage, and marine vessels, its implementation into civil infrastructure at scale has been comparatively gradual. Due to its non-corrosive material properties, pultruded FRP framing solutions may be ideal for infrastructure exposed to harsh outdoor environmental conditions (e.g., salts from sea spray or from roadway de-icing treatments) or from caustic industrial conditions (e.g., chlorine manufacturing). Due to its light-weight and domestic production, pultruded FRP framing can be manufactured, fabricated, delivered, and installed in rapid fashion compared to heavier traditional infrastructure materials. Thus, pultruded FRP may be a key tool as engineers, facility asset managers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders struggle to finance repairs and maintenance for degrading infrastructure systems in a time-efficient manner for users.