Production begins with temporary female molds made from medium fiber density wood panels. After sealing the mold, the fabricator applies the mold release, then lays down the inner skin fabrics and PET core material with grooves to allow for resin flow. M-Mold uses contact glue to hold the core in the right position. The core materials vary in thickness and feature extra reinforcements around the tank windows. Next, the outer skin fabrics are applied and more reinforcements are placed around the windows and flange. Finally, the vacuum bag is built and sealed over the mold. “When you open the resin lines, the tanks will be infused in a few minutes,” says Nasseh.

 Rio de Janeiro AquaRio Aquarium Barracuda Advanced Composites renderings GFRP sandwich panels

Barracuda Advanced Composites created renderings such as this one for the GFRP sandwich panels it designed for 27 fish tanks in the aquarium. The company also supplied all the materials, including fabrics, resins and foam cores.

Barracuda estimates that production of all 27 tanks, including drains and filters, will take 90 days to complete. The windows, constructed separately and made from acrylic, will be provided by Reynolds Polymer Technology, a company that specializes in manufacturing aquarium windows. The tanks are scheduled for installation in November. M-Mold will ship the tanks in pieces approximately 125 miles to the aquarium, where a forklift will hoist them to the third and fourth floors for assembly.

Rio de Janeiro’s aquarium is scheduled to open in June 2015. City officials estimate that AquaRio will attract 1.5 million visitors per year – and even more in 2016 when the city hosts the Summer Olympics.