Composite products are used in the industrial field to combine the advantages of two materials or to counter their disadvantages! Typically these are two physically different elements that cannot bond naturally, but can be joined together by proper processing. The result is a material that is often made to withstand tough conditions with optimum functionality.
Glass fibre reinforced plastic or GRP is a case in point. It is made by combining thermosetting plastics with chopped glass fibres. Other reinforcing agents are used to strengthen the bond. The resultant structure has the advantages of both elements. One of the most common GRP products is the GRP pipe.
GRP pipe is used in a wide range of industries because of its unique properties. Some of these are:
— Water distribution
— Wastewater management
— Wind turbines
— Chemical industry
Composition: As mentioned above, the composition of GRP is thermosetting plastics, glass fibres and reinforcing agents. Thermosetting plastics are polymeric resin that has been cured by chemical additives or heat. The two types in such plastics are polyester and epoxy resin. Polyester, such as vinyl ester, has excellent corrosion resistant and are used to transport highly corrosive elements such as acids and sewage. Epoxy resins are usually used to make pipes of small diameter.
The strength of the pipes depends largely on the reinforcing material. Even the arrangement of the material can make a difference. This arrangement can include continuous roving, surface veil and reinforcing mat.
Continuous Roving has bundles of untwisted strands, while reinforcing mat has chopped strands. Surface Veil has lightweight layers. Reinforcing mat provides a wide-area reinforcement to pipes. Surface Veil, on the other hand, displays excellent resistance to environmental factors.
Apart from these GRP pipes can also have additional elements like organic peroxides, silica sand, catalysts and accelerators.
Strength: GRP combines the strengths of both plastic and glass fibre. The thermosetting plastic can withstand compressive loading, but are weaker in tensile strength. The glass fibre has the exact fit with excellent ability to withstand tension, but weak in bearing compression. The resultant composite material is able to withstand tension and compression. This gives the pipes excellent strength.
Advantages of using GRP:
Corrosion resistance: GRP pipes are highly resistant to most corrosive elements. This mean that it can last intact in most environmental conditions. More importantly, it can be used to carry aggressive materials like chemicals. It is used in wastewater management because of its ability to resist highly corrosive elements in sewage.
Low weight: These pipes find many handy applications because of their lightweight. They can used where pipes have to be mounted or where the weight is a major factor. The lightweight means that they can easily carried in difficult terrains.
Lack of any porosity: The GRP is built in such a way that it is almost leak-proof. The presence of glass wire in a thermosetting plastic makes it the one of most non-porous materials around. It means that there are almost no chances of any leakage of toxic elects like certain chemicals. This also makes it a popular component of water distraction systems worldwide.
Smooth inner surface: The GRP pipes have no rough edges or texture. This makes them ideal for carrying liquid components such as water. The smooth surface also reduces the chances of deposits along the rough edges, keeping its inside clean. This can be a major concern in transport of materials like water.
High load capacity: As explained above, GRP products are very strong and can withstand almost all kinds of pressure. That means that even narrow pipes have excellent load capacity. Not only do they have the strength required to carry any kind of material, they are not easily breakable.
Economic: The GRP pipe is highly economic in the long run. Even where its initial costs are higher than some materials, its long-lasting quality means that it will last you a lifetime. There are other additional cost saving. For instance, the lightweight material has low installation costs since it can be installed easily. Its other physical properties ensure that it is a low maintenance material.
Like many composite materials, GRP combines the strength of plastic and glass fibres. With its ability to withstand tension and compression as well as its high resistance to corrosive materials, it is highly suitable for carrying a number of disruptive materials.