Producing FRP pollution control components for coal-burning power plants is keeping companies like Kenway Corp., Augusta, Maine, busy to the point that the company is expanding its shop and hiring employees. “Business is booming,” relates Ken Priest, president. “We have a lot of work going into 2012, primarily scrubber systems and associated pipes and ductwork for the power industry.
Kenway uses a variety of FRP processes in the shop, including filament winding, vacuum infusion and open molding. Tanks up to 14 feet in diameter are wound in the shop. Corrosion-resistant piping, 2 to 54 inches in diameter, is the company’s primary pollution control product, relates Priest. Most pipes are made to custom specs with flanges and attachments, he notes.
The company also uses some advanced vacuum infusion technology to produce thick laminates using vinyl ester resin. One product, a 1,200-pound FRP hatch cover, measuring 5.4 inches thick and 66.5 inches in diameter for an FGD installation, won an ACE Award for Technical Innovation in a Corrosion Application at COMPOSITES 2009 in Tampa. It was produced using a special process which provides a long resin flow time, cure on demand and slow exotherm development during cure in thick laminates, avoiding hot spots and stress fractures. Nitroxide-mediated, controlled radical polymerization in temperature-controlled closed molds enable the process, which greatly reduces production costs of thick laminates, says Kenway.
Most of the corrosion-resistant piping produced by Kenway features abrasion resistant technology on the inner layers. Silica carbide is added to the resin, which is used to saturate the glass fibers on the interior of the pipes. Aluminum oxide is also used. The abrasion-resistant liners range from 3/16 inches to 3/8 inches thick, says Priest.
Pollution control systems have gotten larger in recent years and require more advanced technology in the composite work, he observes. “In applications where we’re using infusion, we’re looking much more closely at the fiber architecture and orientation to produce components that provide the strength and wear resistance we need. We’re really engineering these components to create better value for our customers,” adds Priest.