Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are used in a wide range of commercial and industrial applications, including chemical, water, metals and energy applications. They are the top choice for these applications due to their high strength, high resistance to chemical exposure and long-term durability. They are also much lighter in weight than traditional concrete and steel, which make them easier to work with and hence a better option.
The composite components of fiber-reinforced plastics must adhere to higher standards of safety, cost-effectiveness and reliability, which create technical challenges for manufacturers. While there are methods to monitor damage and ensure that the FRP’s are working correctly, there are signs you should be aware of when inspecting your FRP tank or pipe:
Damage from Aging
Aging damage in FRP equipment is progressive, which begins with the attack of aggressive fluids to the corrosion barrier. These attacks may then progress and breach into the structural wall, which can undermine the structural integrity of the FRP equipment. A laminate is considered to have failed if the fluids have successfully breached the corrosion barrier and attack the structural wall.
The most common type of aging damage can be characterized by surface attacks. Surface attacks can be caused by chemical reactions, heat, erosion or a combination of influences. Surface attacks are also more severe in the early stages, if the processes weren’t well-controlled in the beginning or if an inner film on the surface of equipment was not fully cured. It’s important to understand the cause of the damage so you can take the correct measures to fix them—or, if the case is too far gone—replace them.
This kind of damage refers to the cracking and deformation of the laminate. Mechanical damage can be caused by shrinkage or thermal shock, or defects that are a result of physical overloading of the structure. When there is deep visual cracking, which you can see is moving along the direction of the reinforcement, it could mean that the cause of damage is an overloaded structure.
This implies that the viability of the structure is in question and should immediately be taken care of or replaced. Any other kind of deformation or cracks should be addressed to maintain the structural integrity of the equipment.
Damage Due to Heat
There are several factors to look out for when you have exposed your FRP equipment to inappropriate temperatures. Even corrosion-grade thermosetting resins have upper temperature limits, which vary depending on their chemistry, and are prone to damage if these limits are crossed.
Overheating can cause a loss of strength, stiffness and hardness. Laminates soften and lose rigidity when exposed to excessive heat. Any overloading conditions present may worsen and erosion might also increase. If the equipment is subjected to high heat conditions for a prolonged period of time, immediate action and even a replacement may become necessary.
Having trouble with your FRP equipment? Hudson Fiberglass has been in the fiberglass inspection services and repair business since 1976 and have racked up years of experience in the field. From tank and pipe repair to custom fiberglass work, we are your one-stop-shop for all your fiberglass needs! Contact us now to avail the highest quality in workmanship and materials.