The largest fibre-reinforced polymer lock gates in the world have been installed in the new Number III lock on the Wilhelminakanaal in Tilburg.
According to Fibercore, such large (6.2 x 12.9 m) lock gates made of fibre-reinforced polymer have never been used. IT says that the mitre gates were manufactured using the worldwide patented InfraCore Inside technology, and can withstand a height difference in water levels of no less than 7.9m. The project to widen the Wilhelminakanaal, being implemented by the Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment), has achieved a sustainable world first with these gates.
InfraCore Inside is described as a safe and strong construction material, weighing much less than traditional materials. Fibercore says that this makes the gates light, sustainable and easy to install. The glass fibres which reinforce the structure are constructed using InfraCore Inside technology, which makes it possible to build fibre-reinforced polymer sandwich constructions whereby the upper and lower shell are inextricably linked, meaning they are capable of bearing very heavy loads. The gates have a yellow protective coating and will require minimal maintenance.
Fibercore explains that, because fibre-reinforced polymer does not decay, these lock gates have a predicted life two or three times that of conventional wooden or steel gates. And because the gates have roughly the same specific gravity as water, there will also be much less wear and tear on the pivoting points. Research has shown that fibre-reinforced polymer is an excellent alternative to concrete, wood and steel. In comparison it is ten times stronger and with a lifespan for over 100 years it scores excellent in terms of CO2 emissions and energy consumption.
In 2014, Fibercore says that the Unie van Waterschappen awarded the Water Innovation Award to these fibre-reinforced polymer lock gates. The jury report called them ‘a powerful and effective innovation’. The superior quality of the product was also highlighted, as was its sustainability and cost effectiveness. The jury were also impressed by the fact that the lock gates demonstrated these benefit for an application on such a large scale. ‘Thanks to its scale and the expertise that has been gained as a result it has a potential for export’.
During the Smart Rivers Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September 2015, Fibercore claims it was clear that the lock gates were attracting a good deal of international attention, and government bodies and producers attending the congress followed Rijkswaterstaat’s presentation on the gates with great interest. It says, this innovation has prompted PIANC (the organisers of the conference) to set up a new, international working group – Composites for Hydraulic Structures – in which representatives include Rijkswaterstaat, as well as the American government and other parties.
The choice to install fibre-reinforced polymer lock gates was a joint initiative of the province of Noord-Brabant, Rijkswaterstaat, and the building group combination Heijmans/Boskalis. The lock gates were manufactured by FiberCore Europe and the installation was carried out by the construction company Hillebrand. Smaller lock gates (5 x 6.2 m) had already been installed in lock III in October last year.
Image provided by Fibercore
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