GatorBar, ExxonMobil subsidiary, NEG alliance propels GFRP prospects

Sources: Materia, Pasadena, Calif.; CP staff

Materia, an advanced polymer specialist and ExxonMobil subsidiary since 2021, Nippon Electric Glass (NEG), and Michigan-based GatorBar have formed an alliance committed to increasing the share of composite rebar within the concrete reinforcement market. Materia’s Proxima polyolefin thermoset resin systems and NEG glass fiber are key to GatorBar, a leading, glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) rebar.

Data from ASTM tensile strength tests demonstrate that GatorBar is 2 to 4 times stronger and 4 to 7 times lighter than steel, making it ideal for a broad range of building and construction applications. The product’s strength, weight and ease of handling factors create considerable opportunities for total project savings through reduced labor and decreased shipping costs.  

When measured against conventional concrete reinforcing steel, GatorBar exhibits markedly higher tensile strength at one-quarter or less the weight, plus corrosion resistance attributable to its glass fiber and thermoset resin composition.

The ultra-low viscosity and snap cure of Proxima, paired with the proprietary process technology of GatorBar and consistency of NEG’s glass fiber and roving, enables production speeds up to 20 times faster than traditional composite rebar. Such process efficiency makes GatorBar one of the most economic composite rebars on the market and a cost competitive alternative to most steel rebar. The proprietary sizing technology of NEG glass fiber and rapid wetout in the Proxima resin systems, furthermore, enables GatorBar to have composite mechanical properties superior to steel in tensile strength at a substantially lighter weight. NEG also leverages its glass chemistry expertise to target a composition that strengthens GatorBar’s resistance to corrosion.

“As well as expanding our manufacturing capacity recently by more than two-fold, this new strategic alliance has been established with partners making the same level of aligned commitment to capitalize on the tremendous potential of the rebar market,” says GatorBar CEO Erik Kiilunen. “We look forward to ongoing collaboration with ExxonMobil and NEG-US as we mainstream GatorBar within the building and construction industry.”

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Nanofibrillated cellulose fibrils’ high strength and atom-scale sizing translate to very small concrete or mortar mix dosages.

Vancouver, B.C.-based Performance BioFilaments Inc. reports start-up of the world’s largest nanofibrillated cellulose commercial production plant. Co-located at Resolute Forest Products’ Kénogami paper mill in Quebec, the operation is equipped for daily output of 21 metric tons of product suited for use in concrete or mortar reinforcement and workability improvement, plus mineral consolidation, industrial fluid and a host of other applications. 

Performance BioFilaments is a joint venture of Resolute Forest Products and Mercer International Inc. Officials present nanofibrillated cellulose fibrils as the building blocks of wood fibers’ micro and macro fibrils. Nanofibrillated cellulose, moreover, is a natural, renewable and sustainable biomaterial derived from “well-managed, certified forests,” providing a low carbon additive to enhance performance-driven materials. 

“[Our] team and development partners have dedicated years of effort to bring this low-carbon biomaterial to market,” says Performance BioFilaments Managing Director Gurminder Minhas. “We have collaborated extensively across a range of industrial supply chains, integrating nanofibrillated cellulose to achieve cost, quality and dramatic performance improvements. The availability of commercial volumes means we can readily support large-scale opportunities across a number of major industry sectors.” —