World’s First All Composite Ferry Pontoon

12 June 2012

Riverside Marine, from Brisbane, Australia, has collaborated with Wagners CFT Manufacturing to develop a bespoke floating pontoon structure which is the first and largest ‘all composite’ ferry pontoon to be commissioned.

Riverside explains that the pontoon is to be used in the tourism industry and says the structure is 114m in length with a deck area of 573m2 and has been installed at Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia.

Dr Gareth Williams, Research and Development Engineer for Riverside Marine said “On-going maintenance of metallic structures in the marine environment poses continual concerns for the lifetime of an asset so our aim was to develop an innovative, zero maintenance solution using composite materials”.

“Wagners CFT has a proprietary product of pultruded glass fibre composite usually used for boardwalks and bridges.  We identified the suitability of this product to meet the requirements of the structure. The use of composite materials extends the expected design life to at least double that of existing metallic or concrete based products that are subject to degradation and corrosion from harsh marine environments.  This combined with a reduced maintenance requirement presents a huge benefit in the through lifetime cost of the facility,’ he said.

Designed to accommodate five high speed catamaran ferries under cyclonic conditions, environmental sustainability was also a high design priority and the use of composites represented a low carbon solution. Riverside says the materials used significantly reduce the carbon footprint during construction compared to traditional materials. Additionally, the zero maintenance design ethos and extended design life contribute to a reduced through-life CO2 footprint once in operation.

Wagners also utilised their new Earth Friendly Concrete (EFC) product to ballast the light weight composite structure and improve its dynamic response characteristics. They say EFC reduces the production carbon footprint of concrete by a minimum of 60 per cent and combines to produce an estimated 75 per cent reduction in through-life carbon footprint for the composite pontoon.

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