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During an 18 April hearing before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Shane Weyant, President and CEO of Creative Pultrusions, a member company of the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), testified that as the US looks for innovative solutions to repair its infrastructure, Congress should support efforts to develop codes and standards that allow designers and engineers to build confidently with fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials.
During the hearing, entitled Composite Materials – Strengthening Infrastructure Development, Weyant shared insight on the recently-developed report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that addresses barriers to the adoption of composite materials in sustainable infrastructure.
“Additional research and data that can contribute to standards development will help raise the knowledge base about composites,” said Weyant. “Likewise, bringing together the various agencies responsible for infrastructure investment to participate in this effort can help diffuse knowledge to the asset owners and designers.”
If carried out, the proposals outlined in the document could lead to the adoption of composites that are more reliable, durable and cost-effective than current infrastructure material options. Among the recommendations are aggregation and validation of existing standards and design data, additional research on improved durability testing, and an engagement programme to bring together industry, academia and federal, state and private sector stakeholders for education and information flow.
Weyant’s comments build on points made during his 2017 testimony before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. As Weyant explained last year, FRP composite products produced in the US offer durable, sustainable, and cost-effective solutions in infrastructure applications as diverse as dams, levees, highways, bridges, tunnels, railroads, harbours, utility poles and buildings. In the months following Weyant’s 2017 testimony, the US experienced one of the worst hurricane seasons in recent memory, which further emphasised the urgent need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure with innovative technology.
The Subcommittee on Research and Technology also heard from Dr Hota Ganga Rao, Wadsworth Distinguished Professor at the Statler College of Engineering at ACMA member West Virginia University. He testified alongside Weyant in 2017 and believes that instead of having every DOT develop standards independently, national standards would increase the efficiency of the industry and save costs by reducing redundant standards development.
Ganga Rao also called on Congress to initiate stringent enforcement of standards through NIST, and to require future government projects to consider composites as alternative designs, including listing composites as approved materials.
“Congress can appropriate nationwide funding for preventative maintenance and repair using FRP composites, which would help save many in-service structures instead of replacing them,” he said. “With a dedicated funding stream for repairs only, DOTs and other infrastructure owners can use FRP composites to repair a structure during early stages of deterioration before small cracks become large delaminations.”
The hearing page includes a video recording and transcripts of each testimony: https://science.house.gov/legislation/hearings/hearing-composite-materials-strengthening-infrastructure-development
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