What is claimed to be the world’s first full-scale production facility making composite power distribution poles has been opened in Moolap in the state of Victoria, Australia, by Dulhunty Power.
The composite poles, which have been developed by US-based CMT Worldwide and Langdale Industries and subsequently licensed to Dulhunty for manufacture, are claimed to be the first to provide strength, durability and fire resistance by combining concrete with alkali-resistant glass reinforcements.
Poles from the Dulhunty Power plant will now provide an option for those Australian utilities facing the threat of bush-fire events each summer that can burn traditional wooden poles and down power lines.
To ascertain the endurance characteristics of the poles under such conditions, fire testing was carried out earlier this year at the Western Fire Center in Kelso, Washington, in the US. There, testers used 60kW and 40kW ring burners to simulate bush-fire conditions. The test samples exhibited minimal superficial surface changes and cooled to less than 50oC 45 minutes after the tests were completed.
A study comparing the carbon footprint of the composite concrete poles with other poles also found them to be superior. They were second only to treated wood when taking into account that the wooden poles had an expected lifespan of 50 years. However, over a period of 70 years – the projected lifespan of the composite pole – the carbon footprint of the composite pole was superior.
The Eco-Titan composite pole was a finalist in the JEC Composites Innovation Awards programme this year and was displayed at the JEC show in Paris in April. The technology is now being licensed globally.