Composites are shaping the world like never before. For unlike metal, they cannot only be moulded into almost any shape, but are tougher and lighter than steel, fire resistant and don’t rust.
“In the past the deterioration of mild steel has led, in extreme cases, to catastrophic structure failure,” said Lynn Calder, CEO of INEOS Composites.
The world witnessed that on August 14, 2018, when a 200-metre stretch of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa collapsed, killing 43 people.
Experts say the bridge’s steel cables were encased in concrete which meant corrosion could not be seen.
The steel tower, which also collapsed, was also encased in concrete.
When steel rusts, it expands and can crack concrete.
Composites work differently – and, as such, have found their way into cars, trucks, boats, homes, infrastructure, chemical plants and the sea where they can withstand the harshest of conditions.
INEOS’ composites resins are also resistant to attack from chemicals.
As such they have been used, instead of traditional materials, at many of INEOS’ manufacturing plants, including INEOS Pigments’ business in Ashtabula in Ohio.
“Steel reinforcement in concrete bridges is also now being replaced with composite rebar,” said Lynn.
Composites are also good for the environment.
INEOS Composites’ resins have proved a key component in shaping the future for wind turbines because they are lighter than steel.
In 2019 the world’s longest-ever wind turbine blade was built in Cherbourg, France.
At 107-metres, it was longer than a football pitch.
“These blades simply couldn’t be built to today’s extreme size, and generate the huge amounts of power they do, without the strength to weight ratio of composite materials,” said Lynn.
INEOS, though, is also proud of the fact that it has helped to create a viable market for recycled plastics.
In every 220kg drum of its PET family of composite resins are the remnants of about 1,800 recycled PET plastic bottles.
“By using recycled PET as a raw material to make composites, we lock in the carbon,” said Lynn.
In doing so, INEOS is also showing the world it is serious about its promise to use 325,000 tonnes of recycled polymer in its own products by 2025.
INEOS Enterprises agreed to acquire Ashland’s entire Composites business, along with its European BDO business, in 2018 for $1 billion.
The Composites business alone has 15 manufacturing sites in Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East and employs 1,000 people.
Ashley Reed, CEO of INEOS Enterprises, said composite resins had been the materials of choice for the world’s boat builders for 30 years and with good reason due to their incredible qualities.
“We believe composite resins have great potential growth under INEOS ownership,” he said at the time.
After the deal was completed in 2019, INEOS Composites became a business in its own right.
Looking to the future, composite materials are well placed to overcome the challenges faced by the construction industry, which wants to use more environmentally-sound products.
Andrew Miller, head of INEOS Composites Europe, said they was a growing interest in the market towards bio and recycled PET-based resins.
“Fibre-reinforced plastic composites are easy to install and maintain, have a long life, and can be recycled so it’s easy to see why they will become far more competitive than conventional materials such as steel and concrete,” he said.
Global leader in unsaturated polyester resins, vinyl ester resins and gelcoats
- Corrosion Resistance
- Fire Retardance
- Ultraviolet Resistance
- Water and Chemical Resistance
- High Mechanical Properties
- Thermal and Electrical Insulation
- Impact and Scratch Resistance
- High Strength-to-Weight Ratios