Sustainability in the FRP Sector
Sustainability refers to the longevity of a production technique and its long-term ability to harmonize with the economy, society, and the environment. These facets of the human-ecosystem are constantly changing and presenting new challenges for established sectors. The construction industry, for example, may struggle with environmental responsibility and increased material demand as the global population continues to grow towards an estimated 9 billion people worldwide within the coming decades.
This article will explore how fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) are championing sustainability in the construction sector:
Sustainability and FRP
Pultrusion manufacturing techniques were developed for producing lengths of reinforced polymer with constant cross-sections, providing the raw materials for cost-efficient alternatives to conventional construction materials such as steel and wood. Initially manufactured for their lightweight characteristics, FRP products can now compete with the strength of structural steels on a pound-for-pound basis, exhibiting a decreased weight profile of up to 80%. They are also impervious to rot and exhibit excellent chemical inertness to a plethora of corrosive elements, negating the natural degradation associated with wooden elements. These mechanical characteristics represent a distinct reduction in energy-intensive maintenance and potential replacement requirements, which can have further ramifications for material recovery and recycling.
Most importantly in the context of sustainability, FRP manufacturing represents a significantly reduced environmental impact over conventional material preparation methods. Pultrusion of virgin FRP materials produces fewer greenhouse gases and consumes less energy than the manufacturing of steel, aluminium, and concrete. It has also been proven to show a reduced environmental impact over aluminium and steel recycling process in terms of air and water output, and energy consumption.
Despite the existing environmental benefits of FRP manufacturing and application, continuing efforts are underway to ensure that modern production methods are in-line with changing global compliances and ethical standards. This includes reducing energy requirements for pultrusion processes, improving disposal methodologies for critical solvents, and unlocking new material capacities. Naturally-reinforced polymers and bio-resin FRP products are emerging in existing product catalogues, supporting the push towards true sustainability in the manufacturing sector.
Strongwell’s Sustainable FRP Commitment
At Strongwell, we are committed to construction and manufacturing changes that are both suitable and sustainable. All our facilities operate within strict environmental parameters with audited verification of our FRP production processes and continuous assessment of how to reduce our carbon output.
We are committed to performing robust life cycle assessments of our FRP products and ensuring that they are sustainably-minded, from their manufacture through to their eventual application. Our product range reflects this, with numerous long-lasting FRP products performing in demanding applications and reducing the environmental footprints of a broader range of industries.