Innovation and composites go hand-in-hand and that couldn’t be truer for this Wisconsin-based company, Composite Rebar Technologies, Inc. (CRT). The company has developed a hollow fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite rebar and the process to produce it.

According to Robert Gibson, owner of CRT, because of its hollow core, the bar can generate more strength and use less material than a standard composite rebar. “The fact that the rebar is hollow means it offers more functionality, meaning it can be used as a conduit,” says Gibson.

CM Interviews caught up with Gibson to give our readers an exclusive interview that discusses the hollow rebar. Read about the development and uses of the hollow rebar more in the November/December issue of Composites Manufacturing magazine – online the first week of November. Plus take a look at plant safety, employee training and business marketing from the perspective of industry leaders, the latest developments in the military market and more.

What’s in store for infrastructure once composite rebar becomes a more prominent alternative to steel?

Within the last several years, the federal government has changed its approach toward supporting infrastructure repair, replacement and development. The government is encouraging, promoting and soon, I think, requiring a life-cycle cost analysis to determine the most effective way to build more sustainable, durable and economic infrastructures. Wherever there is a corrosion issue, it makes more sense to use products that last much longer. Rebar is a great example.

It is terribly wasteful to use steel rebar for a bridge deck in an area where there is a corrosion issue. Maintenance costs will increase and eventually the deck will have to be rebuilt due to the rebar failure. We now have a better product to handle corrosive situations – the composite rebar. As a result, the government is now designing long-life bridge decks and extending the design life.

What makes the hollow rebar different than the standard composites rebar?

I find the hollow rebar interesting because the hollow core adds the potential for additional functionalities. That might mean putting sensors in structures to make smart structures or circulating fluids to heat a bridge deck. We also put a unique material on the exterior of the bar which is fully-bonded, both mechanically and chemically, to the fiberglass bar itself with a ridge surrounding the bar, much like a screw thread. With the external screw thread, the hollow rebar can provide a way to connect one rebar to another rebar.