Tennison states that composites representation in the transmission pole industry is miniscule. However, he believes there is room for growth. “There needs to be a major North American utility that embraces the commercial deployment of composite poles in their grids,” he says. “But first we, as an industry, need to educate engineers more thoroughly about the benefits composites offer.”
RS attempts to educate through a data library called PLS-Pole, which designs grids and lines to support conductor cables, allowing the company to demonstrate their product more easily. “Instead of taking our word, utilities can buy the file and model up structures using our modules and doing comparison with other materials,” says Tennison.
RS will continue to install the poles in niche markets, particularly environmentally-sensitive regions ranging from Scandinavia to Seattle. This focus may be a boost to the company as the green culture grows. “The longer life cycle of a composite pole is something we’ll emphasize. The poles are maintenance free, emit no chemicals, don’t need to remediate soil, and are non-conductive,” says Tennison. RS will face difficulties expanding their market presence, but it hopes to pole vault over that bar of acceptance soon.
Cultured Marble Steps up Green Game
Some in the cast polymer industry think it’s time for the cultured marble industry to step-up the green trend. Companies like Monroe Industries are embracing that trend. Monroe developed Robal Glass, an environmentally friendly solutions for such applications as vanity tops, shower bases and wall surfaces.
Monroe’s Robal Glass is made with two types of recycled glass. Some of the glass is used in construction projects. Some is post-industrial glass that never made it to store shelves. The recycled glass is cast in a soy-based resin, which has approximately 21 percent bio-based renewable source content.
Despite using the same tools and molds, Monroe Vice President Bonnie Webster says the difference in manufacturing its product comes down to the casting process: “It doesn’t cast like calcium carbonate or aluminum trihydrate-based products. We needed to develop the technology in developing the right particle packing to have a true solid material,” she says.
Monroe is currently working on showcasing Robal Glass to the architectural market. At some shows the company has gone to, there is a lot of interest in the product, “A lot of them crowd around our booth because they simply wanted to know what it was. They had never seen it before,” Webster says. Among the most common questions she gets concern price comparisons to solid surface (it’s less) and whether or not the material is customizable (it is).