Photos by Persinger
Composite materials are not only cost-effective alternatives to traditional building materials but they have the potential to build upon the country’s strength in manufacturing and enhance labor productivity.
In testimony delivered in April to the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Hota GangaRao, the Maurice and Jo Ann Wadsworth Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at WVU, discussed the importance of investing in advanced materials to continue to lead the world in composite research, development and implementation.
“FRP composites have become dominant in select infrastructure applications where light-weight, durability and non-corrosiveness is required, such as wind energy, underground gasoline tanks and cooling towers,” GangaRao said. “Based on previous successful demonstration projects, composites are poised to expand into additional infrastructure applications including reinforcing bars for concrete, bridge decks, utility poles, repair of structures and refurbishment of sewer/storm water pipes.”
GangaRao, who directs the Constructed Facility Center and the NSF-funded Center for the Integration of Composites into Infrastructure, noted composites are moving into these areas due to their biggest advantage over traditional materials: durability.
“Composites won’t corrode or rot like conventional materials, resulting in a longer service life,” GangaRao said. “Infrastructure is commonly built with timber, steel or steel reinforced concrete, all of which degrade over time due to natural or man-made conditions.”