Rising Popularity of GFRP

GFRP Corrosion Resistance

The popularity of glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP)- a variation of fiber-reinforced polymers (FRPs)- is increasing day by day. More simply referred to as Fiberglass rebar, GFRP is a stronger and lighter alternative to conventional steel rebar: it weighs nearly 4 times less and has more tensile strength. GFRP is popular among construction workers for its non-magnetic properties and life-span of over 100 years.

Traditional reinforcements, like steel, failed to fight against the menace of corrosion. Construction workers saw it as a challenge to their service and it led to the emergence of composite materials.

A rise in the popularity of GFRP can be seen most evidently in Canada and North America. Collectively, these two countries use up to 80% of the entire global consumption of composite materials.

Why GFRP is gaining popularity

Here are the main reasons why the GFRP market is expanding worldwide:

  • Rapid infrastructure development
  • A surge in construction spending
  • The constant struggle to develop corrosion-resistant construction materials

As you can see, corrosion and abrasion are two of the many reasons why the industry is opting for GFRP rebars over steel rebars. A large amount of money, possibly billions of dollars, go into the maintenance and repair of corroded material. 

When experts sat together to discuss a possible solution, it was unanimously concluded that GFRP is the right answer to the problem. The anti-corrosion property makes GFRP highly popular among construction workers and builders. Moreover, the behavior and performance of FRP confined concrete has interested many researchers over the last two decades. 

Fiberglass reinforcement has emerged recently as the most cost-effective construction material which guarantees durability. The structural conditions of infrastructures require long-term durability and a high degree of performance. It has super rehabilitation properties- when a structure is damaged, GFRP is used to cover up the damage.

Here are a few more compelling factors that will make GFRP even more popular in the future:

  1. Greatly decreased maintenance cost of GFRP material
  2. GFRP has proven to be the best option for bridges, marine projects and many other applications
  3. Time effective- being lightweight and easy to handle, many civil engineers find it easy to complete their tasks on time
  4. Fiberglass-reinforced buildings are likely to achieve the service life of over 100 years, helping governments to build sustainable concrete infrastructure

Widely used in marine projects

Water plays a role in weathering rebars. Structures can get damaged over time if the material used is prone to corrosion. Therefore, GFRP is used widely in manufacturing marine projects, where corrosion-resistance is a crucial requirement.

GFRP is used in:

  • Seawalls
  • Retaining walls
  • Jackets (outer covering)

Challenges faced

Despite the momentous popularity, there are still certain challenges which GFRP faces in the market. There is a shortage of data regarding the material, which can be a problem for the engineers working on installation and implementation. Unlike steel, GFRP rebars require a lot of research work before getting started. Engineers working on the project have to follow the construction guides and recommendations proposed by manufacturers. This makes the initial costs much greater.

Another big challenge faced by manufacturers trying to promote GFRP is the fact that steel is still predominantly in use. Steel and other traditional reinforcements have been used for ages and old habits die hard. It is a challenge to change perceptions that have been in place for so many years.

The future looks bright for composite. A wide range of applications in the industry makes GFRP a potential winner of the rebar market race globally. Its strength and corrosion resistance make it a tough contender to beat, leaving steel behind. Slowly and gradually, composite rebar will take over the market and leave steel far behind. This will be attributed to technological advancements and research. 

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