Creative Pultrusions has provided products for everything from high-end residential to big commercial projects and military installations. In 2016, it supplied 132 pipe piles for the new Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) at the U.S. Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. The 88-foot-long SUPERPILES® are made with a polyurethane resin reinforced with electrical-grade E-glass and E-CR glass. The 16-inch diameter piping is ½-inch thick and was filled with 6,000 p.s.i. expanding concrete at the fuel pier prior to being driven into the San Diego Bay.

The expandable concrete created ‘composite action’ between the piles and concrete – essentially permitting the pile structure to act as one unit, says Troutman. “The contractor utilized a concrete formula that was specially formulated to meet adhesion specifications and create composite action,” he says. Prior to installation, West Virginia University’s Constructed Facilities Center validated the concrete bond strength by testing samples filled with the special concrete.

Validation is critical, says Troutman. “Just manufacturing pultruded products and putting them out there is one thing. But how do you ensure that the mechanical properties you are designing to are actually the mechanical properties that your part has?” he says. “I think the next big jump in our industry will be validation of design methodologies, mechanical properties and the means of production.” In addition to validating its products, Creative Pultrusions also is ISO 9001:2015 certified, which provides customers added reassurance that it provides high-quality products.

Market Segment: Utilities

When a tornado ravaged Oklahoma City in 2013, steel transmission towers twisted under the 210 mph winds and crumpled toward the ground. Aluminum conductor cables hanging between the towers were shredded. But one component remained intact – the pultruded composite cores.

“With composites, electrical towers and transmission lines will be a lot more rugged,” says Clement Hiel, Ph.D., owner of Composite Support & Solutions Inc. (CSSI). “Thin steel sections buckle in tornados; properly-engineered composite sections don’t have that problem.”

Hiel founded CSSI in 2001 to expand the knowledge base in composite material technology and develop innovative products. One of those products is the aluminum conductor composite core (ACCC) cable for transmission lines. Utilities have traditionally relied on aluminum conductor steel-reinforced (ACSR) cables. The ACCC features a CFRP rod, surrounded by a thin insulating layer of GFRP, which prevents galvanic corrosion. They are manufactured simultaneously via pultrusion.

There are many benefits to using composites rather than high-strength steel as the core material in aluminum transmission cables. A primary advantage relates to line losses. Electricity is transmitted from power plants to consumers through a vast interconnected network of towers and transmission lines. The U.S. electrical grid comprises 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 5.5 million miles of local distribution lines, according to Scientific American magazine. Transmission over such long distances creates power losses ranging from 6 to 24 percent, says Hiel.