SBIR Phase I: Development of High Speed Process Technology for the Manufacturing of Cost Effective Polymer Rebar

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$148K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Neuvokas Corporation
25280 Renaissance Rd
Calumet, MI 49913
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will focus on the development of a superior infrastructure material with wide-reaching applications. Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) rebar materials offer significant performance advantages as compared to uncoated steel rebar. These advantages include a sevenfold weight reduction, the elimination of corrosion, a 30% reduction in concrete usage (which translates to a 15 billion ton reduction in CO2 emissions), and equivalent tensile strength at smaller diameters versus traditional steel rebar. FRP rebar is being produced in small quantities, but has limited market acceptance due to its high cost. The material and process to be developed will allow price parity and enable dramatic improvements in production speeds as compared to the current FRP state-of-the-art. When combined, these improvements will open the FRP market of $1.8 billion and create opportunities in the broader $60 billion global market for rebar. Additionally, global basalt mine waste dumps will be explored and, if possible, utilized as a raw material for fiber production. If successful, this would eliminate a significant waste stream and lead to better environmental stewardship. This effort will focus on developing the process required to produce this new rebar. A thermoset resin and basalt fiber will be used as the primary reinforcements within this composite. Over the past 20 years, FRP rebar has been developed into a viable product, representing $1.2 billion in cumulative revenue. However, no FRP rebar product is currently offered at price parity with uncoated steel rebar. In order to reach price parity, this effort will focus on development of a novel high-speed manufacturing process for this material. Basalt fiber is an emerging material that has potential to replace carbon fiber in a variety of applications. Additionally, thermoset resins not commonly used in pultrusion can offer improved performance characteristics that cannot be achieved with typical FRP rebar resins. Completion of this project will create further understanding of material interactions in this system, which will create the potential for additional composite technologies.