The Carbon Fiber Blog


Bridges Built with Carbon Fiber

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

HJ3 has been strengthening corroded bridges with carbon fiber for a while now, and the results have been impressive. Throughout the years, carbon fiber has really proven itself to be an innovative rehabilitation material, but we never seem to hear about bridges that are actually constructed with carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP). But why? It seems logical that if reinforced concrete structures could be protected from corrosion right off the bat, the structure’s life expectancies should surpass 70 or 80 years, doubling or even tripling the life expectancies of current designs, right? So have we not heard of these bridges because they don’t yet exist? Well, as it turns out, there are several bridges all over the world that were initially constructed with CFRP materials.

CFRP cable strands and tendons were used in the construction of the Bridge Street Bridge. Credit:

CFRP cable strands and tendons were used in the construction of the Bridge Street Bridge. Credit:

The first CFRP bridge to be built in the United States was the Bridge Street Bridge (aptly named, don’t you think?), in Michigan.  It was designed and built by researchers at Lawrence Technical University in 2003, and replaces traditional black steel reinforcement with a combination of stainless steel and carbon fiber materials.  The carbon fiber components include both straight and bent bars (for non-tensioned reinforcement), as well as pre-tension carbon fiber strands (used in a manner similar to steel pre-tensioning strands in concrete beams), prestressing CFRP tendons and non-prestressing carbon fiber composite cable strands (to replace steel bars and tendons), as well as carbon fiber mesh fabric.  11 years after its construction, Michigan governor Rick Snyder has commended the success of the bridge, referring to it as “the bridge of the future.”


Lifting the CFRP bridge deck into position took less than 30 minutes. Credit:

Lifting the CFRP bridge deck into position took less than 30 minutes. Credit:

CFRP bridges are also prevalent in Europe.  While many of them are footbridges, used primarily for pedestrians and bicyclists, their success will likely transition into more road bridges in the near future.  One such road bridge, The West Mill Bridge, in Oxford, UK, has been described as “one of Europe’s most advanced highway bridges” for its CFRP construction, even though it’s only 10 meters long.





The West Mill Bridge is "one of Europe's most advanced highway bridges" Credit: Composites UK

The West Mill Bridge is “one of Europe’s most advanced highway bridges” Credit: Composites UK

Built in 2002, the bridge utilizes composites in its load-carrying beams, side paneling, and bridge deck.  The bridge’s edge beams, footpath, and two crossbeams at each end are constructed of concrete, while its crash barrier is made of steel.  The wearing surface itself is actually a polymer concrete as well.  All load-carrying elements are made from polyester, glass, and carbon fibers, and the entire bridge was built at a temporary factory, located at the bridge site.  After construction was finished, it took less than 30 minutes to lift it and set it into position.   Building a bridge with CFRP components comes with several advantages:

  • Short construction phase
  • Fast installation
  • Resistant to water, de-icing salt, and frost
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Much longer service life
  • Minimal maintenance costs
  • Low operation costs
  • Less traffic problems due to maintenance
  • Reduced mass, allowing for smaller cranes, simplified transportation, easier installation, and reduced assembly time and cost
  • Superior durability
  • Resistant to chemicals from spillages
  • New aesthetic possibilities
  • More efficient geometrically

Want more information about using carbon fiber for bridge repair or construction?  Email us today!

Wyoming Oil Spill a Result of Corrosion

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

Corrosion has been blamed for an oil spill that occurred in Wyoming this past May.  A backhoe initially nicked a 6-inch underground pipeline, which, over time, resulted in corrosion until the pipeline eventually ruptured.  Reports indicate that it’s unclear just how much time passed between initial backhoe damage and when the spill actually took place.  25,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled into the ground in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, traveling for more than 2 miles before being blocked by a temporary dam, which was put in place to prevent the spill from pouring into the Powder River.

oil fire

The 25,000 gallon crude oil spill was cleaned up by burning. Credit:

Cleanup efforts “went very well,” according to Bureau of Land Management environmental coordinator Bob Dundas.  Initially, the BLM was planning to use vacuum trucks to clean up the spill from the Casper-based Belle Fourche Pipeline, but later decided that burning the spill was a more efficient disposal manner.

The spill is reported to have occurred on federal and state-owned land; no private property was affected.  Even though high levels of petroleum remained in the soil for a few weeks following the spill, area groundwater is also said to have been uncontaminated.

While this spill isn’t exactly a disaster, per se, it could have been prevented.  After the back-hoe nicked the pipeline, a simple repair would have prevented the corrosion which lead to its ultimate demise.  And while traditional repair methods are costly and time consuming, often requiring steel welding and/or total replacement, there are other options available that don’t require replacement at all.

natural gas pipeline external reinforcement

HJ3’s CarbonSeal system is perfect for pipelines of all sizes. Here, a natural gas pipeline has been repaired with HJ3’s carbon fiber.

HJ3’s CarbonSeal™ carbon fiber repair systems provide an innovative approach to repairing nicked or otherwise damaged pipelines.  Carbon fiber composites are approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in their standard for repairing pressure equipment and piping.  Carbon fiber is actually 10x stronger than fiberglass systems, so less material is needed. The installation is quick, requiring only minimal downtime. And the overall price is competitive. ASME/PCC-2 compliant HJ3 Composite Technologies CarbonSeal systems have been used to repair thousands of linear feet of pipe since the original standard was created in 2008. HJ3’s systems in particular save owners up to 90% on repairs compared to replacing their pipe.

Pipeline ruptures are preventable.  As more and more oil refineries and individuals become aware of carbon fiber repair options, spills like this one will become less and less prevalent, but regular inspection of pipelines is key to providing a solid solution.

Want more information about repairing your corroded pipelines?  Email us at

Strengthen Bridges to Prepare for Floods

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

Flooding along Arizona’s highways caused road closures and significant damage. Credit:

On Monday, Southern Arizona experienced its wettest day in recorded history.   Remnants from Hurricane Norbet mixed with pre-existing monsoon humidity to cause more than 3.25 total inches of rainfall in one day.  The region typically sees 2.71 inches of rain for the entire monsoon season, but on Monday alone, 2.96 inches had already fallen by 8:30 am, and the downpour didn’t let up all day.  Two people were killed while trying to escape the rushing waters, and more than 10,000 homes and businesses were left without power.  Whole sections of interstates  were washed away in Phoenix, and here in Tucson, high waters in the Santa Cruz River have threatened the structural integrity of all bridges along that river. The damage from Monday’s flood continues to mount as saturated soils create instability all around us.  And as the damage climbs, so does the repair bill.  On top of the countless homes and businesses that will have to be restored, bridges and entire sections of road will have to be rebuilt.  But this isn’t the first time that floods have caused so much damage to our transportation infrastructure, and sadly, it won’t be the last.


A bridge collapses in California during a massive flood. Credit:

In 1927, a flood in Vermont killed 84 people, left another 9,000 homeless, and destroyed 1,250 bridges.  An 1891 flood in Arizona collapsed a railroad bridge across the Salt River, causing provisions to run short during the 3-month repair process.  A 20-day flood in Oregon and Northern California in 1964 killed 19 and destroyed more than 20 major highway and county bridges, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.  But while many of these disasters occur without warning, preemptive efforts can prevent such terrible damage to our infrastructure.


Severe corrosion on the bridge columns.


One DOT recently decided to use carbon fiber to preemptively strengthen one of their highway bridges.  Tiny cracks had developed as a result of vibrations from daily traffic passing overhead.  Over time, water and oxygen had seeped into the cracks, causing them to expand and corrode the concrete and reinforcing steel rebar within.  The bridge had more than 60 corroded concrete columns; the columns were so corroded, in fact, that whole sections of concrete had fallen off, exposing corroded rebar all along.  The DOT realized that their bridge would collapse if something wasn’t done to strengthen it soon.  They chose to repair the bridge with HJ3’s carbon fiber. Before installing the HJ3 Civil™ system on the bridge columns, all the damaged concrete was removed with chipping hammers.  The exposed rebar was cleaned to near-white and protected.  Wood forms were constructed around the columns to encase a high-strength grout that was poured in place.  Finally, the resurfaced columns were primed, wrapped with HJ3’s carbon fiber fabric, and layered with a protective topcoat.


Restored columns are strong and corrosion-free.

The HJ3 Civil™ system successfully restored the columns’ shear and tensile capacities in only three weeks.  The DOT saved 50% compared to replacement costs, and the entire repair was completed with minimal road closures.  Thanks to HJ3’s system, the bridge is now corrosion-resistant, preventing the need for future maintenance.  Furthermore, repairing their bridge instead of replacing it saved months of downtime, as well as preventing more than a million gallons of water from being wasted in the construction of new columns.

If you have a bridge that requires strengthening, let us know!  Shoot us an email at

Carbon Fiber for Manhole Repair

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler


manholeManholes are often overlooked by the common passerby, but their importance to the every-day workings of society shouldn’t be.  The EPA estimates that there are about 20 million manholes in the United States – that’s about one manhole per every 400 feet of pavement!  While manholes are most commonly used for allowing access to sewer lines for maintenance and repair, they are also used to gain access to water, electric, telephone, and natural gas facilities.  Keeping these manholes in good condition is vital for the continued success of our cities.  Unfortunately, however, many of our manholes are overlooked when sewer system maintenance is performed, which has resulted in serious decay.  An estimated 20% of the manholes in the U.S. are between 30 and 50 years old, and more than 3 million are so badly degraded that they require immediate rehabilitation or replacement.


The cementitious liner that had previously been used to repair these corroded manholes in 1996 cracked and failed.

In Pima County, Arizona, 21 manholes originally built in the 1940’s had been previously rehabilitated with a competitor’s cementitious liner, which had failed.  As the liner eroded, it started to lose bond adhesion to the substrate, and fragments fell into the sewage stream, threatening the county’s sewage processing system. The manholes required removal of the failed liner, strengthening, and protection from Hydrogen Sulfide Gas.

After removing the eroded liner, the surface of the manholes was sanded with a grinder.  The concrete was resurfaced with Quick-Set grout, and all cracks were sealed with a low-viscosity crack injection polymer.  The CarbonSeal™ carbon fiber was saturated and installed, and a vinyl ester topcoat was layered over the carbon fiber to protect it from future erosion due to Hydrogen Sulfide gas.




HJ3’s CarbonSeal™ is applied to the interior of the manholes.


HJ3’s vinyl ester topcoat will protect the manholes from Hydrogen Sulfide gas and future erosion.

HJ3’s carbon fiber system saved the county 80% compared to the cost of replacing all 21 manholes.  Furthermore, since HJ3’s system repaired the manholes without causing any road closures at all, the county saved months of downtime and prevented almost 62,000 gallons of water from being wasted due to the manufacture of new manholes.

Want more information about CarbonSeal™ and how it can repair your manholes?  Contact us today at



Donation Boosts the VLP’s Reach in 2014

Posted on by abarela
As part of George’s Dojo, HJ3’s philanthropic arm, the HJ3 team dedicates time and money each year to give back to the community as a company as well as on an individual basis. Together, we have dedicated 1,000 hours of community service each year to organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.


HJ3 recently donated to the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) of Southern Arizona. As a result, VLP anticipates that it will help 700-800 more people in 2014 than it was able to help in 2013!
Volunteer Lawyers Program
HJ3 donates to the VLP of Southern Arizona, helping it to service 700-800 more people in 2014 than 2013


In order to bring hope and justice to those who are less fortunate, the VLP of Southern Arizona Legal Aid matches attorneys who wish to do pro bono work with low-income clients in need of civil legal assistance. Each year, the 1,200 attorneys and law students who volunteer through the VLP dedicate time, service and expertise to thousands of Arizonans who would otherwise not have access to justice. To learn more about this fantastic organization, visit


HJ3 a Finalist in 2014 Copper Cactus Awards

Posted on by abarela
HJ3 Composite Technologies has been named a finalist in the 2014 Copper Cactus Awards for the category “Best Place to Work”. The Tucson Metro Chamber Copper Cactus Awards presented by Wells Fargo celebrates the accomplishments and innovation of Southern Arizona’s small businesses. The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Best Place to Work honors businesses that encourage and support professional growth, education and development for employees.


“HJ3 is honored to be a finalist”, says Jim Butler, HJ3’s CEO. “We hope this brings awareness to our company as we are one of Arizona’s fastest growing companies and we are looking to hire.” HJ3 is a finalist among 13 other companies in this category. The list of finalists includes:

  • Airtronics
  • Aqua Star International
  • Casa de la Luz Hospice
  • Children’s Orthopedic Specialists
  • HJ3 Composite Technologies
  • Nextrio
  • Patio Pools & Spas
  • Pima Dermatology
  • Remedy Intelligent Staffing
  • Tanque Verde Ranch
  • TCI Wealth Advisors
  • Technicians for Sustainability
  • TM International
  • White Stallion Ranch
HJ3 is a finalist in the 2014 Tucson Metropolitan Chamber Copper Cactus Awards presented by Wells Fargo, for the category of “Best Place to Work”


“HJ3 is a leading manufacturer, engineer and installer of carbon composites to strengthen infrastructure. Coming from HJ3′ employees, some of the greatest benefits of working at HJ3 include the open ‘cubicle-free’ environment that fosters communication and collaboration. HJ3 is also a culture dedicated towards service to others. The team has committed 1,000 hours to community service each year through HJ3’s philanthropic arm we have named  “George’s Dojo” in honor of our former production manager, George Salustro who passed away. We currently work with organizations such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Salvation Army’s Adopt a Family program, Love Everyday, and Habitat for Humanity to name a few. HJ3 is an extremely results-focused organization, and comes together to reward performance and to encourage team building at monthly “Town Hall” events, beginning with company announcements followed by an organized, and often competitive event of bowling, billiards, and laser tag.
hj3 group shot at the 2014 cystic fibrosis great strides walk
HJ3 at the Cystic Fibrosis of Southern Arizona 2014 Great Strides Fundraiser


Additional Copper Cactus award categories include the CopperPoint Small Business Leader of the Year, Cox Business Growth, Nextrio Innovation through Technology, and Tucson Electric Power Charitable Non-Profit Business. The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday, October 30 at Casino Del Sol Resort located at 5655 W. Valencia Rd.





HJ3 Wins $100,000 EPA Contract To Develop New Technology

Posted on by abarela
HJ3 Composite Technologies is one of 21 small businesses nationwide recently awarded a contract through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal with these research grants is to help “develop new solutions to some of our biggest environmental challenges,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.


HJ3, who is known for manufacturing, designing and installing high-strength carbon fiber and glass fiber systems to repair degraded infrastructure, is thrilled to be included in this group. “We are very excited about this award, and we are developing a system to scale it on a commercial level,” said Jim Butler, CEO and founder of HJ3. HJ3 is developing more efficient ways to strengthen corroded drinking water pipe, which is currently a significant cost to owners. “We are developing a new automated way of installing high-strength carbon fiber material to strengthen corroded pipelines,” Butler said. “The result is an increase in productivity by 500 percent,” he said. “Workers can go five times faster in completing the work than in current techniques.”
Jim Butler
Jim Butler, CEO of HJ3 Composite Technologies


The EPA contract comes at a time where infrastructure is on people’s minds and in regular conversations. With pipeline breaks and leaks making headlines daily, and the expense of conducting emergency repairs vs. maintenance, this is a serious topic as we continue to plan and work within existing infrastructure repair budgets. We must find creative solutions that do more with less material, less cost and in less time. Fiberglass has been used since 1965 to fix pipelines. In the mid-1980s, carbon fiber was introduced in Japan to repair pipelines. HJ3’s carbon fiber has been successfully used on more than 10,000 applications, worldwide, at a tremendous cost savings vs. replacement of concrete and steel structures.
HJ3’s carbon fiber repair systems are used to fix large and small diameter drinking water pipe


“Now HJ3 is increasing the rate of production. Instead of repairing 100 feet of pipeline at a time, we can do 1,000 feet at a time,” says Butler. “We are still developing it. We did a pilot and proved the concept, and now we are developing the system to scale it on a commercial level,” Butler explained.The $100,000 will be used to finalize the prototypes in Phase 1 of the award, which will be completed in October. HJ3 expects to receive an additional $300,000 for Phase 2, which will be used to commercialize the product. To learn more, please contact HJ3 at or by calling 1-877-303-0453.
Coal-Fired Power Plant PCCP Repair
With the help of the EPA’s grant award, HJ3’s systems will increase in installation time, from 100 feet of pipeline at a time to 1,000 feet

HJ3 At Tulsa Pipelines

Posted on by abarela
The 2014 Tulsa Pipeline and Energy Expo is underway! John Huedepohl, HJ3’s CarbonSeal™ Product Specialist, will be meeting with several of our clients and would love to meet with you, too! Email John or stop by BOOTH 230 on August 26th or 27th to learn how HJ3’s industrial carbon fiber systems and coatings can save you time and money on your maintenance projects.tulsa-pipeline-expoThe Tulsa Pipeline Expo reflects Oklahoma’s leadership in a forward-thinking energy industry. This year marks its 5th anniversary since the annual event launched in 2009.
hj3-pipeline-repair  hj3-steel-riser-pipe-repair


Steel Process Vapor Line Repair

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler
There are currently 139 operating oil refineries in the United States, producing nearly 18 million barrels of crude oil daily.  Considering that a vast majority of the 165,000 miles of U.S. oil pipeline is at least 35 years old, the aging pipeline infrastructure is nearing the end of (or has already passed) its serviceable life.  Catastrophic oil leaks have already occurred all over the world, and leaks and spills will continue to occur as our pipeline continues to age.  The problem, like so many others that we face, is one of money.  Pipeline is corroding and aging faster than we can replace it, and it’s racking up a bill that no one can afford.  Kent Moors, an acclaimed oil and gas policy expert, says that “the immediate need worldwide [for oil pipeline repair] is put at $500 billion… and it’s growing by about a billion dollars every week.”  So how do we reduce this huge bill, you ask?  With HJ3’s carbon fiber, of course!


At an oil refinery in Alaska, an ASTM A106 – Grade B steel vapor line header corroded both internally and externally, requiring reinforcement.  The 20” vapor line header and attached 42”- diameter pipe required reinforcement due to steel loss and through-holes from extreme corrosion.  The entire structure had lost its hoop strength.  Additionally, the internal pipe repair had to be completed with extreme care to avoid oxygen ingression, as combustion was possible.  The refinery had the choice to replace the pipes, incurring downtime and extreme costs, or repair them.
Highly chemical-resistant base coat is applied


After reviewing their options, repairing the pipes with HJ3’s carbon fiber was a no-brainer.  The CarbonSealTM system repaired the vapor line header and attached pipe in only two days. Considering the constant exposure to chemicals, a chemical-resistant base and topcoat were vital for protecting the system. First, the pipe surface was cleaned to white metal using mechanical hand tools. Through-holes and other steel loss were patched, and the basecoat and primer were applied to the pipe exterior. Saturated carbon fiber followed, and the protective topcoat was applied last.
HJ3 primes the pipe


Saturated CarbonSeal fabric is applied to the pipe
HJ3’s carbon fiber is applied to the header


HJ3 applies the chemical-resistant topcoat
The finished structure’s hoop strength is restored


Repairing the pipe required no downtime, hot work permits, or welding. The structure’s hoop strength has been restored, and the header is now corrosion and chemical-resistant. The installation was completed within two days, and the refinery saved $300,000 compared to replacement costs. Furthermore, repairing the pipe required 22% less energy than would have been required to manufacture a new pipe. The repair prevented almost 33,500 gallons of water from being wasted, more than a ton of CO2 emissions from polluting our atmosphere, and more than 1,000 lbs of steel from potentially going to landfills. If you have a steel pipe that needs reinforcement, contact hj3 at

Carbon Fiber Pedestal Repair

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler
There are almost 7,000 operational power plants in the United States today, and recent years have seen an increase in natural gas power plant construction. While only 13% of electricity generation came from natural gas in 1993, projections estimate that natural gas generation will climb to 30% by 2030, doubling the projected outputs of renewable and nuclear energies. This increase in natural gas plants is said to be a result of an increase in the supply of natural gas, increasing focus on power plant emissions, and short construction times for natural gas plants. Considering the lowered sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions output of natural gas as compared to coal, natural gas power plants are quickly becoming the power-generator of choice for many energy companies in the country.


At a natural gas facility in the southwest United States, a series of concrete pedestals support the power-generating units. More than a dozen of these pedestals had developed minor cracks. Broken valves above the pedestals released heat and steam, which expanded the cracks, corroding the internal rebar. As the rebar bloomed, the cracks expanded, causing concrete loss on many of the pedestals. The concrete was so deteriorated that if not addressed soon, the integrity of the supporting pedestals would have been threatened.
Pedestals Support the Power-Generating Units at this Facility


The CarbonSealTM pedestal repair kit restored all of the pedestals. HJ3 provided thorough installation training, as the power plant wished to perform the repair themselves. First, the surface of the pedestals was prepared by chipping away loose and delaminated concrete. The surface was ground to rid it of any paint and smooth the concrete, and areas with concrete loss were patched with cementitious grout. Primer was then applied, and all remaining cracks were injected. HJ3’s carbon fiber fabric was saturated and installed, and then protected by a chemical-resistant topcoat, which prevents the need for yearly repair.
Cracked Pedestal
A Trained Installer Applies CarbonSeal Fabric
Pedestals Wrapped With HJ3’s CarbonSeal System


HJ3’s CarbonSealTM system provided a long-term solution compared to traditional concrete patching; the chemical, corrosion, and abrasion-resistant qualities offered by carbon fiber eliminate the need for repair for at least 20 years, while concrete patching alone would have required maintenance in 1 or 2 years. Because HJ3’s CarbonSealTM system required no rental for scaffolding or other expensive equipment, and required no new concrete to be poured, the client saved $150,000. Furthermore, the repair prevented more than 1,000 lbs of concrete and steel rebar from going to landfills, saved 30,000 gallons of water, and almost a month of downtime versus replacing the pedestals with new concrete. More than 3,000 kWh of energy and one ton of CO2 emissions were also spared in the repair. If you have concrete pedestals that are cracked and need repair, contact HJ3 at