Strongwell (USA), a company specializing in the pultrusion of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, was recently recognized with two awards for its innovation in the design and manufacture of the world’s tallest freestanding pultruded fiberglass structure – a nearly 200-ft tall tower erected in central Texas.
The tower is designed to launch surface-type electromagnetic waves for energy transmission as part of a decades-long R&D initiative. The use of fiberglass, which is virtually transparent to radio frequencies, minimized signal losses. Along with the other requirements specified by Strongwell’s customer, there is simply no other capable structural material.
“Pultruded FRP is an ideal structural material in many applications, but especially this one. The requirements for lightweight, high strength, RF-transparency, field fabrication/assembly, and long-term durability made the selection of our materials a perfect choice,” said David Gibbs, Strongwell’s vice president of sales and engineering.
The project used more than 28,000 FRP hex nuts, 13,400 linear ft of threaded fiberglass rods and almost 30,000 linear ft of pultruded exterior cladding. The entire structure was manufactured and pre-fabricated at Strongwell’s Bristol, Virginia, location, shipped to the job site, then assembled in sections, which were lifted and bolted into place.
Barry Myers, Strongwell’s corporate director of marketing and communications, stated in a presentation about the project: “Strongwell boasts the world’s largest pultrusion machine, top-tier in-house machine and fabrication shops, and R&D and engineering capabilities simply not present with most other pultruders. There’s a reason Strongwell was approached for this project – we were quite possibly the only ones who could actually do it!”
In recognition of the project, Strongwell was recognized by the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM) with its Innovations in Manufacturing Award. The project was also awarded the Unsurpassed Innovation Award at the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, beating out twelve other finalists.
The idea for transmitting energy wirelessly is not new – Nikola Tesla originally sought to make this technology possible, even commissioning the construction of the Wardenclyffe Tower, a wooden structure built in 1901-1902 for his research. That project was never completed, but the idea remained. Modern materials and technologies may just make this idea one day a reality.
For more information on Strongwell, visit www.strongwell.com.
To learn more about the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX), visit http://www.thecamx.org/.
To learn more about the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM), visit http://www.swvam.org/.