Two advanced-composite firms have received conditional appro-val to bid on California Transpor-tation Department bridge-column-wrapping contracts. Hexcel Fyfe Co. and XXsys Technologies Inc., both located in San Diego, have met Caltrans' structural testing requirements and provided their own 1,000-hour data showing their products meet material testing requirements, according to Mohsen Sul-tan, chief of Caltrans' new technology management branch.
Joint venture Hexcel Fyfe uses E-glass with Kevlar aramid reinforcements, and specialty subcontractor XXsys uses carbon fiber.
The opportunity to compete in the seismic retrofit world of welded steel jackets represents a positive step for advanced-composite technology.
``We are not giving blanket approval,'' Sultan said in a recent interview. ``By June or July, they will have to produce the results of 1,000 hours of material testing at an independent lab to stay in the game.''
Any Caltrans-approved lab in the state may conduct the tests.
Caltrans ``recently came up with a reasonable set of specifications and a pre-qualification document for both materials testing and structural testing,'' Sultan said.
``We are in the process of finalizing a memo to designers and a standard drawing sheet. These are major accomplishments.''
Caltrans plans to raise the qualification thresholds to 3,000-10,000 hours of testing in the near future.
Sultan said Caltrans may give conditional approval by July to two suppliers of prefabricated shells. Joint venture Hardcore DuPont Composites of New Castle, Del., uses E-glass and the Seeman Composite Resin Infusion Molding Process, known as SCRIMP.
Contractor C.C. Myers' CMI Inc. unit of Rancho Cordova, Calif., has licensed NCF Industries' Snap-Tite jacket technology.
A separate but related program to qualify polymer composite-wrapping systems for Caltrans retrofit work has drawn interest from Hexcel Fyfe and Japan-based teams headed by Tonen Corp. and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.'s composite materials unit. The Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering in Covina, Calif., is program administrator, and Aerospace Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., is material evaluator.
Each of the three competitors has paid, or soon will pay, $25,000 for Phase I evaluation of each material system or installation process.
Beginning in mid-1996, Phase II is to involve structural tests of composite-jacketed bridge col-umns using promising materials. A panel of industry and academic experts will review the test results.