Sustainable GFRP solutions to support chemical compound production plant - P-TREX
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Sustainable GFRP solutions to support chemical compound production plant

The Challenge

Aqua Ecologic is a Belgian company that has turned water disinfection in industrial processes into its mission. As a specialist in this field, the company supplies its applications to the agricultural sector, to the industrial sector, specifically food-industry, to the drinking water production, to the health care sector … to everyone that needs to take care of bacteriological micro-organisms that can infect their water.

When upgrading and refurbishing a part of their chemical compound production plant, Aqua Ecologic was supported by the design and production capacity of P-Trex, Business Unit of Fibre Net Spa. Specialising in the design and manufacture of composite material (GFRP) profiles, structures and fences, P-Trex was able to propose an alternative solution to the traditional material, such as galvanised steel, aimed at improving the performance of the plant structure thanks to the mechanical and physical characteristics of the composite material.

All P-Trex profiles and structures are produced in Italy by Fibre Net Spa, a leading company in the market of structural recovery, seismic retrofitting and safety of existing buildings and infrastructures.

P-Trex’s Solution

P-Trex is design and production but also an incubator of innovative solutions tailored to the customer’s needs, to solve the critical issues typical of the context they encounter. The Aqua Ecologic production plant had to support 3 tanks of 1000 litres. Although the final product is not corrosive, the production of one of their compound is a corrosive process.  Aqua Ecologic found it important to protect their equipment and to safeguard it for a long period.

In view of the issues of corrosion and weight, the solution proposed by P-Trex was the result of a precise preliminary calculation, which pointed out the resistance capacity of the structure to be built at the specific load of 200 daN/m2 and indicated which profiles were most suitable for the assembly of the structure. Designed on the basis of the UNI EN 14122 standard, it guarantees the maximum deflection of the stringers of 2.9 mm L/500, largely respecting the bending limit of 5.3 mm.

In order to solve the problem of corrosion rates caused by leakage, the use of GFRP pultruded profiles was the best choice due to their high corrosion resistance, which combined with their excellent mechanical performance, helps to extend the life of the structures and minimise maintenance.

Composite structures also have a greater “repellent” capacity for bacterial micro-organisms that are harmful to humans compared to galvanised steel.

The Outcome

The final design involved the creation of a structure made entirely of composite material (fibreglass and thermosetting resins) with the combination of special resins for some elements.

From the design, P-Trex progressed to the production of an inclined staircase and railing as well as a walkway about 5 meters long with railing, supported by a central bearing column. The structural and load-bearing elements are made of isophthalic profiles with good chemical resistance, while the grating panels of the stairs and the walkway received a double-coat treatment with a special vinylester resin in order to respond perfectly to any corrosive liquid leakage.

The added value of P-Trex does not end there. The structure was pre-assembled on site and then shipped to the customer, in order to facilitate operations on the construction site, where the installation time was considerably reduced.

P-Trex guarantees customer support at all stages of the design process, even when it is necessary to supplement the initial project with improved or simply additional details.

Benefits to the Client

When compared to an alternative made entirely of traditional material, GFRP products boast a long service life and practically no maintenance.

Lightweight and modularity are two other major advantages of using GFRP material, whether it is used alone or when combined with a traditional material in a hybrid structure. GFRP staircases and walkways, although large, are easily transportable and, due to their modularity and ability to be adapted, make assembly easier and faster.

The result is a very quick installation.

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