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Project name:

A low carbon alternative to structural steel and concrete that costs less

Status: Idea
Creation date: 23-02-2023

Project objectives:

Short summary A UK inventor has patented connectors for fibreglass profiles to be combined as blocks into trusses, columns, foundations and other building structures. The connection is very rigid but can be loosened and reused at end of life. Light bridges and other structures have been demonstrated that normally are made in steel and concrete. Not only has the system a much smaller carbon footprint, but it is also cheaper and easier to build. Partners are needed to take on co-development in various niches.

Full description It is widely known that the manufacture of steel and cement used in concrete contributes 16% of global CO2 emissions. No alternative that is as strong and stiff as steel has been able to compete on cost, until now. A UK inventor has developed and tested a composite alternative that is 40% of the weight of steel, doesn’t rust, cuts CO2 emissions by 80% and even costs less. It is called Spacelink. A new way of joining rectangular hollow sections made by pultrusion has been developed. It uses no metal or adhesive. Threaded fibreglass rods and glass-filled nylon nuts have been tested to 80kN. They connect pultruded box profiles to make trusses, columns and gantries that are as strong and stiff as steel but much lighter. At end of life, they can be dismantled for reuse or recycling, so nothing goes to landfill. Tested at Coventry University, a 5m long fibreglass truss weighing 35 kg (similar to the picture below) was centrally loaded with 2¼ tonnes without failure, demonstrating a 3x factor of safety. Trusses have been developed into composite bridges that are not only lighter but a fraction of the cost of steel railway footbridges for example. Adding pultruded carbon fibre strips to box chords increases span by 40%, making them even more cost-effective (see the Pictures). Spacelink is a structural system that can replace steel and concrete. Fibreglass piles, mini-piles and truss frames can replace concrete foundations, saving on wet trades and the time needed for concrete to set. 4-box columns integrate with trusses to support Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) for the railways. The system eliminates thermal bridging and enables vapour-open construction in energy-efficient buildings. Fibreglass has 150 times the thermal resistance of steel. Maintenance-free structures can be built both on and off-shore with twice the life expectancy of galvanised steel. Lightweight components are easier to manhandle. Non-conductivity saves insulating steel structures for electrical distribution. The inventor has built a small business around the system but needs partners now to help develop the wide range of potential applications. Partners are sought who can exploit the technology in the particular area of business they are involved in. Assistance in adapting Spacelink to their requirements is offered.

Advantages and innovations The innovation lies in connecting components in fibreglass in a way that makes the structures very rigid. At the same time, they can be loosened and reused at end of life. The advantages of such a method of building are many. Steel and concrete can be replaced but also new structures can be designed for building such as novel foundations

Contact / source: NEXT EEN Widgets (