Reinforcing bars or rebars are necessary to keep our structures up. Engineers usually use steel rebars because of cost, but some have explored the use of fiber rebars. If you’ve seen some exposed rebars at seaside structures, you will understand why. Steel rebars rust, hence compromising the home, or even wharf that they are trying to reinforce. While fiber rebars have been around for decades, their use hasn’t caught up because of their cost. Well, that is until now.
Neuvokas Corporation, a Cleantech Open finalist, has started making FRP rebar using volcanic rock basalt. The Calumet, Michigan based manufacturer blends fiber and their proprietary resin at high speeds. The result is a lightweight basalt fiber-reinforced rebar that costs just as much as steel rebars. If a new construction boom comes along, they may even end up cheaper. It is not only stronger than steel, it also resists alkaline and acidic deterioration, and could be deployed in salty environments. Not only that, it could also tolerate more abrasion than their steel counterparts. And since it’s made of lava rock, it naturally holds up in high temperatures.
But the advantages do not end there. It’s light weight and its strength allow engineers to use 30% less concrete to get the structural members with the same strength characteristics as steel rebar reinforced members.
As such, one can replace 1/2″ steel rebars with the 3/8″ diameter FRP rebars that Neuvokas is selling. They plan to start selling to private parking lots on the US Gulf Coast.
If we use more of these FRP rebars instead of steel, we will need less concrete and less cement will have to be made. Hopefully it will save our limestone mountains from getting flattened to prop up our concrete civilization.