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Protecting the environment is an increasingly important issue, especially in South America, where deforestation is a serious problem. Brazilian-based RGF Projetos and Saint-Gobain Vetrotex have produced an award-winning composite solution with many environmental benefits.
(Published on May-June 2006 – JEC Magazine #25)
Most crossarm assemblies supporting power lines are made from wood. While wood is an effective, readily available and inexpensive material, its continued use is producing hidden costs in deforestation. Saint-Gobain Vetrotex and RGF Projetos have cooperated to build a crossarm assembly for power line poles that is just as effective, but made from waste materials and composites, and 100% recyclable.
The award-winning innovation
The base material used is 58% recycled PP, combined with 40% SFC-100 glass fibre cut into 25-mm lengths and 2% emulsifier to give the composite better stability and weatherability. The SFC-100 reinforcement material, a high-performance chopped-strand E-glass for compounding with polypropylene resin systems, was designed especially for this application and process.
SFC-100 glass fibre has excellent processing properties, with easy dispersion during the blending process and low torque absorption. It also gives the moulded crossarm assembly an excellent surface finish and good mechanical properties.
The part is moulded using a continuous extrusion-injection process.
The composite part weighs approximately 24kg, including the metal inserts (braces, spacer, etc.).
The collaborative effort between RGF Projetos and Saint-Gobain Vetrotex began in 2002, based on mutual need – Saint-Gobain was working to develop the use of waste materials in the Brazilian composites industry, and RGF was looking for alternative raw materials for the project. It took nearly three years to complete.
Describing the joint effort, Saint-Gobain’s business development and marketing manager Ismael Corazza said, “The combination of our efforts culminates in a very positive result for both. RGF had developed a very innovative piece in terms of design, parts consolidation, functionality and especially the recycling of different materials. On our side, we had the chance to develop a brandnew type of choppedstrand glass fibre to give the necessary technical characteristics and properties to this blend of materials.”
Saint Gobain’s business development and marketing manager Ismael Corazza.
One of the new product’s biggest advantages is its environmental friendliness. Not only does it use recycled polymers, it also offers the possibility to recycle the moulded assemblies themselves into new ones through the reutilisation of all waste or broken components as raw material.
But perhaps most significantly, it can replace the current system made of wood. For every 4.75 industrialised parts made of composite material, a cubic metre of wood is preserved, the equivalent of one tree.