On February 13, ACCIONA Infrastructures, one of the foremost Spanish business corporations, and the Port Authority of Valencia, Spain, completed the hoisting of the city’s new 105-foot lighthouse. The lighthouse is the first in the world made from composite materials. The full installation is expected to be completed by April.

According to a February 16 Maritime Journal article, ACCIONA worked with Aimplas, Dow, SAERTEX, Owens Corning, and Huntsman Advanced Technology on the project. The article said Huntsman developed a low exothermic, low-viscosity epoxy-based infusion and a resin with long pot life (the period for which two mutually reactive chemicals remain usable when mixed) and also a suitable epoxy based structural adhesive which was easy to apply on vertical surfaces.

“The qualities of the resin were particularly important to meet the challenges encountered in moving from an open resin bath process to resin injection,” the article said.  “Ultimately it was necessary to create a new resin system which offered low viscosity, low exothermic and long pot life.”

ACCIONA highlighted five other advantages of using composites, as opposed to other materials, for the lighthouse. The first is that composites allow for quicker completion of construction. ACCIONA says the total manufacturing and installation time of the lighthouse is 40 percent lower than with traditional material processes.

Secondly, using composites resulted in a minimal negative impact on port operations. ACCIONA says the time the port is affected is less because composites allowed the assembly of the structure to be done in the factory. This means a smaller surface area and a shorter occupation time in the port, and less waste and noise in comparison with the work normally involved in the construction of a lighthouse.

ACCIONA says another advantage of using fiberglass or carbon fiber composites in harsh environmental conditions is that they are not affected by corrosion. This makes them very attractive for use in damp or marine environments.

“Lighthouses built with traditional materials usually suffer considerable degradation, which leads to a shorter working life,” says ACCIONA.

Composites also reduce construction and maintenance costs.

“The use of composites is more efficient in economic terms because the construction process is faster and there is less need for the transport of materials,” ACCIONA says. “Furthermore, by resisting environmental conditions better, the lighthouse does not require investments in maintenance.”

Finally, using composites reduces CO2 emissions in the construction process, due to fewer transfers of heavy materials. ACCIONA says the environmental impact is believed to be 20 percent lower when using composites instead of traditional materials.