FRP: Exploring 4 Cold Weather Components

Fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) were initially envisaged as a lightweight solution to small-scale engineering applications, but in recent decades have emerged as one of the leading materials for functional structures in demanding environments.

Cold weather conditions have always been a challenge for conventional materials such as wood and steel. Shrinkage of wood fibers as the material contracts with the cold can cause structural elements to deform and crack. This is less prevalent in arctic conditions where materials are typically treated to withstand extremely low thermal conditions, and where atmospheric humidity rarely rises high enough to cause hygroscopic expansion. Yet materials must still contend with wind, snow, and freezing/thawing cycles. FRP provides superior performance to wood in each of these areas.

Steel is more resistant to the extreme thermodynamic conditions of cold weather applications, but it is still susceptible to mechanical degradation and corrosion. It also exhibits a very high thermal conductivity, making structural components unsafe to touch in arctic applications. FRP is thermally nonconductive, eliminating the risk of cold injuries from infrastructural components such as handrails and ladders.

This blog post will highlight four cold weather applications of FRP:

  1. Observation Towers

Arctic observation towers are used for ecological studies and monitoring – they are also subject to some of the most severe weathering conditions of any architectural structures on the planet. FRP structural components can provide longevity in extreme environments, with inherent temperature and corrosion resistant properties enabling applications in cold weather marine environments.

  1. Ice Road Mats

FRP grating products can be used to improve the traction between tires and the surfaces of temporary winter roads across frozen lakes and rivers. Surfaces are usually constructed of ice and are repaired by flowing road surfaces with small volumes of water. DURAGRID® HD can be used to improve access to ice roads for heavy-duty vehicles such as lorries, tractors, and engineering vehicles, by introducing a non-slip surface with a large contact surface area.

  1. Utility Buildings and Shelters

Despite significant weathering effects, the immediate impact of extremely cold conditions is felt most keenly by operating personnel. Ecological research or petrochemical facilities in arctic environments must provide safe, secure, and insulated shelters for individuals working in hazardous temperatures.

DURASHIELD® building panels can be pre-fabricated and easily-constructed on-site to provide an insulated shelter where employees can be protected from the elements.

  1. Elevated Walkways

Arctic facilities include short-term exploration and research sites, tourist venues, and permanent heavy industry plants such as coal mines. Each of these requires unique considerations to withstand extreme ambient conditions, but safety remains paramount regardless of application. These locations must consider the risk of cold injury to visitors or employees, which can be extremely severe.

SAFRAILTM eliminates the chance of individuals injuring themselves on components that have dropped below freezing temperatures by removing thermal conductivity from the equation. Ladders, handrails, and industrial cages are safe to touch with bare skin, unlike steel and other structural metals.

Want to learn more about using FRP in severe operating conditions? Read our previous blog post Can Fiber Reinforced Polymers Withstand Ice Storms?

FRP Solutions from Strongwell

Strongwell is one of the world’s leading suppliers of FRP solutions, with considerations for some of the most demanding conditions on earth. Our cold weather products have been used in arctic conditions for over 25 years, providing maintenance-free performance that is unmatched by conventional materials.

If you would like any more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.