Across the world, end users are looking for technologies that can help in the fight against corrosion. According to NACE, the direct costs of corrosion in 2014 were estimated at $540 billion in the U.S. and $2.3 trillion worldwide. For decades, the fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite industry has been helping in this fight.
Glass fiber reinforced polymer composite ductwork has been used in chemical manufacturing plants for more than 25 years. During the 1970s, the use of composites in industrial applications became widespread. By the 1990s, the corrosion industry accumulated 40 years of positive experience with composites. Today, corrosion-resistant composites account for approximately 11 to 15 percent of the total composites market and generate an estimated $3 billion in annual sales. According to 2012 data from the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics, customers who use FRP have found composites result in lower corrosion costs compared to steel and aluminum.
Compared to traditional materials, composites offer superior corrosion resistance, longer lifespans (up to 50 years), lower weight, lower thermal conductivity and tremendous design flexibility. With composites, one can easily fabricate unique shapes and sizes that are difficult to make with other materials.
This year, for the first time in the NACE CORROSION history, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and its members will highlight the use of composites in corrosion resistant equipment in a composites industry pavilion.
FRP composites are made from a polymer matrix reinforced with an engineered, man-made or natural fiber. The matrix protects the fibers from environmental and external damage and transfers the load between the fibers. The fibers provide strength and stiffness to reinforce the matrix—and help it resist cracks and fractures.
Corrosion resistance is determined by the choice of resin and reinforcement used within the composite application. High glass fiber reinforcement structures have great physical strength properties and high resin content structures produce great chemical resistance. An engineer can specify the combination of the two materials to create a composite structure with the best possible design.
A composite’s first line of defense against corrosion is its veil layer of laminate. The most commonly used fiber in corrosion is E-CR glass. In corrosion applications, less common reinforcements include carbon and basalt fibers. The resin helps protect the fibers. The most common resin for corrosion applications is epoxy vinyl ester, but there are dozens of resins designed to provide corrosion resistance. Each unique formulation offers protection against specific conditions.
Corrosion-resistant composites are an ideal choice for industrial equipment built for service in air pollution control, chemical processing, desalination, food and beverage, mineral processing and mining, oil and gas, pulp and paper, solid waste landfill, and water and wastewater treatment.
Be sure to stop by the new NACE Composites Pavilion in the NACE Exposition Hall, located between aisles 2300 and 2500.
To learn more about the work ACMA is doing to fight corrosion with composites, make sure to visit ACMA’s booth in the pavilion (#2429). You can also access ACMA’s Education Hub for a webinar on FRP in corrosion prevention, found at http://www.acmaeducationhub.org/products/1049/frp-used-in-corrosion-prevention.
Photo caption: 8% HCL scrubber, photo courtesy of Ershigs.