Composites Research Roadmap

Project ID: 9940
Principal Investigator: Jessica Torrey
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2015
Keywords: composite materials, fiber reinforced composites, research roadmap, aging infrastructure

Research Question

Can we improve service lifetime and reduce maintenance costs by repairing or replacing ageing metallic infrastructure with composite materials?

Engineered composite materials are made from two or more constituent materials that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. For example, concrete is the most widely used composite material. Fiber-reinforced polymers are also commonly used as construction materials. Reclamation has identified several infrastructure components where the corrosion resistance, lightweight nature, and impact and abrasion resistance of construction composite materials may provide an excellent alternative to steel.

Need and Benefit

Reclamation has a strong history in concrete research and has recently conducted research and field installations of fiber-reinforced polymers for pipeline repair. However, there are both immediate and long-term areas where Reclamation could benefit from incorporating additional composite products into our infrastructure repertoire. Of primary interest are replacements for ageing metallic structures that have shown degradation due to corrosion and abrasion or impact. These types of structures could possibly be repaired or replaced with composite materials, thereby extending the typical service life of the structures and reducing maintenance costs. Steel requires corrosion protection usually in the form of protective coatings which have increased in cost significantly since construction of many Bureau projects. In addition, the expected service life of modern coatings is shortly than legacy coatings such as vinyl resins and coal tar enamels which have been phased out. These factors may make non-traditional materials such as composites more competitive with steel from a life cycle standpoint.

By partnering with the USACE-CERL, the two agencies will be able to identify areas of mutual interest in composites research, propose individual or collaborative efforts on specific topics, and perform complementary research to benefit both agencies.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Composites Research Roadmap (final, PDF, 9.6MB)
By Jessica Torrey
Publication completed on September 30, 2015

This study provides a review of the current composite industry with regards to four topics areas of interest: coatings, pipelines, low-risk infrastructure, and testing of composites. The report consists of a summary report outlining the interest at Reclamation and state of the art in each of the topic areas. Recommendations are given for implementing composite materials to improve service lifetime and reduce maintenance costs of Reclamation infrastructure. Each of the topic areas is covered more fully in individual reports that are included as appendices.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17