Pultrusion Processing of Very Large, Cost-Competitive Composite Pier and Bulkhead Structures

Period of Performance: 04/26/2000 - 04/26/2002


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Kazak Composites, Inc.
Woburn, MA 01801
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials like fiberglass and graphite/epoxy offer high strength and stiffness at low weight, do not corrode in the marine environment and are immune from attack by marine borers, turedos, or other parasites. NAFESC has undertaken several composite deck repair demonstration projects and seeks to apply the same benefits to new pier construction. Pultrusion is the lowest cost composite manufacturing process and is ideally suited for making large, highly-loaded flat structures such as pier decks. During the Phase I project, several promising conceptual designs for composite pier decks were developed, having differing tradeoffs of cost and weight for the desired load capacity. An interesting possibility identified during Phase I would be to fabricate pier deck sections at full length via a pultrusion machine set up on site. This approach would not only save transportation costs, but would allow a very significant reduction in the number and scope of structural joints. Building upon these Phase I feasibility and design studies, KCI will design full scale pier deck panels and associated construction and joining details. Large- or full-scale prototype elements of these pier construction concepts will be designed, fabricated and tested in this Phase II development program. BENEFITS: The successful demonstration of large, wide area, composite panel structures capable of withstanding vehicle wheel loads will provide extraordinary impetus to the nascent market in composite bridge/highway decks and other structures (rail cars, truck beds) where the ability to tolerate highly concentrated loads is a necessary requirement. The same basic constructions and fabrication processes will be used to fill these infrastructure markets as are being developed under the proposed Phase II BIR. In addition to the NAFESC sponsors, KCI will seek development and marketing assistance from Civil Engineering design companies as wel as from the various federal and state highway departments.