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What Is Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic?

B. YADAV | 26 July 2021

At an age where conventional glass and plastic may soon be a thing of the past, attention has been shifted to the use of fibre glass reinforced plastic (FRP) or sometimes known as glass reinforced plastic. Basically FRP is a fiber reinforced polymer made from a plastic matrix which is reinforced by fine glass fibers. The plastic matrix can be either epoxy (a thermosetting plastic) or thermoplastic.

FRP is very light and an extremely strong robust material and its capabilities have often been compared to those of carbon fiber. Although it is somewhat less stiff compared to carbon fiber, it is also far less brittle and the raw materials are considerably cheaper. FRP is more favored compared to conventional metal primarily due to its weight and bulk strength, and also its shape shifting capabilities during the moulding process. FRP is widely used to construct the main framework for boats, tanks, vessels, pipes and also ducts.

Due to its resistance against corrosion, FRP has been used to construct vessels and tanks to house reactive and corrosive chemicals. Like any other compound, FRP also undergoes an oxidation process, where the surface becomes dull and the color fades. FRP scrubbers are generally used to scrub fluids off the surface to prevent oxidation. In air pollution control technology, there are generally 3 main types of FRP scrubbers. Dry media scrubbers involve a dry, solid media suspended in the middle of the tank to control the concentration of a pollutant in the incoming gas via absorption and adsorption.

Wet media scrubbers douse the polluted fluids with a scrubbing concentrate. Due to more contact with the content, these vessels must be designed with more stringent criteria. Biological scrubbers are structurally similar to wet media scrubbers. This media is designed to encourage bacteria growth by spraying the vessel through with water filled with nutrients to encourage bacteria to grow. With biological scrubbers, it is actually the bacteria which scrub the pollutants. One general limitation of FRP vessels and scrubbers would be its temperature limits. FRP is not designed to withstand high temperatures and the limit depends on the resin used to manufacture the composite.

FRP is also used as raw materials to construct pipes and ducts due to its corrosive resistant traits. These pipes and ducts usually transport corrosive substances, therefore using FRP grating would a wise choice. FRP is also easy to form into different shapes during its moulding process, thus proving to be a perfect material candidate for pipes and ducts. FRP also does not conduct electricity compared to alloys and metals. The strength to weight ratio of FRP also makes it a wiser alternative for pipes and ducts which sometimes go through significant loads. However, due to its brittle nature, FRP can only withstand a certain amount of tensile stress before breaking.