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Fracture-prone composites piles to replace timber ones at Virginia ferry terminal

News International-French

1 Jul 2019

Dayton Growing passenger traffic, larger ships and stricter environmental regulations have prompted ferry owners to consider alternatives to fracture-prone timber pile dolphins.

Fracture-prone composites piles to replace timber ones at Virginia ferry terminal

Fracture-prone composites piles to replace timber ones at Virginia ferry terminal

The agency cited greater cost efficiencies due to FRP’s longer life cycle, reduced service interruptions and safer operation. In 2018 VDOT replaced 8 piles comprised of 37 timbers each with large-diameter FRP monopile dolphins. A total of 296 wooden pilings were reportedly replaced by FRP at one-third the lifecycle cost of wood.

According to Composite Advantage, FiberPILE products are fabricated to high strength-to-weight ratios capable of handling overall ferry crushing loads and adverse wind conditions.

Composite Advantage President Scott Reeve explains:

“We fabricated the 100-foot-long FRP monopiles with multiaxial E-glass reinforcement. 59 percent of the glass fibers used in the lower 80 percent of the pile were orientated at 0 degrees [parallel to the longitudinal axis of the pile]. Eight percent of the glass fibers were given a 90-degree orientation with the remaining fibers oriented at ±45 degrees. Glass fibers for the top 15 feet of the pile [focused on the hoop direction] were manufactured with eight percent at an orientation of 0-degree, [parallel to the longitudinal axis of the pile], 59 percent at an orientation of 90 degrees and the rest of the fibers were given an orientation of ±45 degrees. Wood has a 42 ft-kip energy absorption. This combination gives our monopiles an energy absorption of 585 ft-kip energy absorption.”

FiberPILE also boasts hollow construction, light weight and low driving friction. Following setup which took a day, contractors were reportedly able to drive a 100-foot monopile 25 feet into the river bottom in approximately 20 minutes with minimal disruption.