The Carbon Fiber Blog

 

Cracked Ceiling Repaired with Carbon Fiber

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

Ceiling cracks aren’t uncommon, especially in older homes with plaster or concrete slab ceilings. Cracked ceilings can be a result of several different factors, including shifting with age, excess moisture from heavy storms, improper roof drainage, and too much weight from the floor above (see my previous blog, Ceiling Cracks: Causes and Remedies for more information). In many cases, cracked ceilings aren’t a reason to worry, but in other cases, they can be an indication of structural instability and will require repair as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

The cracked ceiling, prior to HJ3's StrongHold installation.

The cracked ceiling, prior to HJ3’s StrongHold installation.

The cracks in this ceiling required structural reinforcement, not just crack filler.

The cracks in this ceiling required structural reinforcement, not just crack filler.

 

 

In this case, a home in the southwest US had developed a cracked ceiling as a result of too much weight from the floor above.

 

 

 

 

StrongHold's carbon fiber is the strongest around, and perfect for confining ceiling cracks.

StrongHold’s carbon fiber is the strongest around, and perfect for confining ceiling cracks.

Like this one, many homes in the southwest United States are constructed with concrete slab or plaster ceilings, which are very heavy and susceptible to cracking and sagging over time. The concrete ceiling required crack confinement and structural strengthening to prevent any further problems. After researching her options, the homeowner decided to repair her ceiling with StrongHold™’s carbon fiber kits. StrongHold™’s experienced engineering team determined that applying the carbon fiber strips both laterally and longitudinally, in a checkerboard sort of pattern, would confine her cracks while simultaneously adding superior strength to the ceiling to prevent future cracking.

The paint and plaster are ground off prior to installing StrongHold's carbon fiber.

The paint and plaster are ground off prior to installing StrongHold’s carbon fiber.

 

Before the carbon fiber system could be installed, all paint and plaster was removed from the application areas with a mechanical grinder. A vacuum followed behind the grinder to rid the ceiling of any resulting dust and debris. After priming the ceiling, StrongHold™’s carbon fiber was thoroughly saturated on both sides and installed. Following a short (approximately 1 hour) cure time, the ceiling was ready to be painted to minimize the appearance of repair.

 

 

 

StrongHold's carbon fiber straps are applied to the cracked ceiling.

StrongHold’s carbon fiber straps are applied to the cracked ceiling.

A checkerboard pattern provides superior strength.

A checkerboard pattern provides superior strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The homeowner’s cracked ceiling was thoroughly reinforced in just a few hours. By repairing her ceiling with StrongHold™ carbon fiber instead of a steel alternative, the homeowner saved a significant amount of money without adding any additional weight to the already-heavy ceiling. Since the carbon fiber straps are only 1/16th of an inch thick, the repair also didn’t reduce her room’s height, as a steel alternative would have. No excavating, drilling, or bolting was required whatsoever, and the homeowner has a stronger home than she ever did before!

If you’d like more information about StrongHold™’s carbon fiber systems and how they can structurally reinforce your own ceiling, write me today at info@hj3.com.

What’s Causing Your Cracked Floor?

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

str-floor-cracks-content1You Love Your House.

It’s your biggest investment, your comfort zone, your shelter. You’ve decorated it how you want it to look, and you’ve probably shelled out a whole lot of money to make it yours. But now your basement, garage, and other concrete floors are cracked. Should you worry? What’s causing this blatant disrespect to your beloved home? And what can you do about it?

While concrete floors can be both functional and beautiful, they’re unfortunately prone to unsightly cracks and pitting. If not taken care of soon enough, some cracks can lead to severe structural problems, including total collapse. But not all cracks are created equally; some might be minor and pose no threat to your home or your safety. Before you crack open your ancient phone book to call your local foundation expert, it’s important to know what could be causing your cracked floor in the first place.

Why is Your Floor Cracking?

  • Foundation shift. Your home will continue to settle on its foundation for years, or even decades, after it’s been built, and this is totally normal. But a foundation shift is different from home settlement, and is often caused by soil movement. The amount of soil movement beneath your home will determine the severity of your cracked floor.
  • Soil movement. Many homes in the United States are built on clay or other expansive soils. In wet seasons, rainwater will saturate the soil beneath and around your home, causing it to expand and push against your foundation. In dry seasons, that soil now contracts away from your foundation. Your cracked floor is an end result of this expansion and contraction.
  • What's causing your cracked floors? There could be a number of culprits.

    What’s causing your cracked floors? There could be a number of culprits.

    Tree roots. Even if there aren’t any trees or bushes planted directly next to your home, their roots are often so strong and deep that they can push up against the underside of your foundation, causing your floors to crack.

  • Soil saturation. As previously mentioned, soil movement can play a big role in causing your cracked floor. Soil saturation is the main reason for soil’s dynamic properties. Excess water from clogged gutters or plumbing leaks can saturate your soil, forcing it to move and crack your floors. Likewise, heavy rains and lawns that slope towards your home can overly saturate your soil, increasing your risk of a cracked floor.
  • Substandard concrete mix or otherwise poor craftsmanship. When your concrete floor was first poured, it was a combination of cement and water. If the proper proportions of cement and water weren’t followed, you may have received a substandard concrete mix. According to the Concrete Network, water is added to cement to make it easier to install, but it also greatly reduces the concrete’s strength. As the water evaporates, the concrete itself actually shrinks. Wetter concrete mix will result in greater shrinkage, which creates forces within the concrete that literally pull the slab apart.
  • Expansion and contraction. Concrete tends to expand on hot, humid days, and contract on colder days, which will often cause your floors to crack.

Whatever’s causing your cracked floor, the important thing to keep in mind is that floor cracks are often a symptom of a larger underlying problem. Simply put, cracks and pits in your concrete floor are also cracks and pits in your foundation.

What can you do about your cracked floor?

Repairing floor cracks can improve your home’s value, so even if they’re minor, it’s a good idea to repair them. But how do you know the difference between a minor crack and a structural one? Generally speaking, cracks that are wider than a credit card and running through the depth of your concrete are probably structural. They could be a sign of a much more serious problem, such as foundation failure. If you’re worried that your cracks are structural, I advise you to contact a structural engineer or foundation expert to diagnose your situation.

Structural crack repair is possible and easy, thanks to StrongHold's carbon fiber systems!

Structural crack repair is possible and easy, thanks to StrongHold’s carbon fiber systems!

But what do you do about hairline cracks that aren’t structural? Unfortunately, there’s no solid answer. But the Concrete Network provides some factors that you’ll want to look for in making your decision about how to repair your cracked floor, and how soon you need to do it:

  • Is the crack static, or is it gradually growing? If the crack is widening, it may continue to do so if not repaired. While the crack might not be structural now, failure to repair it could cause it to become a structural crack.
  • Does the crack present a tripping hazard?
  • Is the crack wide enough to allow moisture seepage?
  • Does the crack trap dirt, creating a maintenance or sanitation issue?
  • Is the crack an eyesore, located in a high-visibility area?

 

StrongHold™ Has the Solution!

StrongHold's Cracked Concrete Floor Repair Kit repairs existing cracks while simultaneously preventing future ones.

StrongHold’s Cracked Concrete Floor Repair Kit repairs existing cracks while simultaneously preventing future ones.

StrongHold™’s carbon fiber Cracked Concrete Floor Repair Kit repairs existing cracks while simultaneously preventing future damage by strengthening the area against the tension that caused the cracks in the first place. The kit is easy to install, is very affordable, and provides a durable, long-lasting structural repair. Whether your cracks are a result of mid-floor settling, corner settling, wall settling, or another issue entirely, rely on StrongHold™ to provide the best repair. The best part is that you can install it yourself…because You’re Stronger Than You Think!

For more information about StrongHold™’s cracked floor repair solutions, check out our Products or Shop section, or email us today: info@hj3.com

Parking Garage Column Restoration

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler
Cracking at the joint of this parking garage required structural strengthening.

Cracking at the joint of this parking garage required structural strengthening.

Parking garages are subjected to regular vibrations from vehicles and people passing through. Over time, these vibrations cause tiny cracks in the garage’s concrete supports. Freeze-thaw cycles, as well as moisture and oxygen penetrating the concrete, corrodes the structures and reinforcing steel within.

In this case, a parking garage at a federal building required crack confinement and structural strengthening at the beam-to-joint interface. Freeze-thaw cycles had caused the internal steel reinforcing bar of the supporting column to expand. As it did so, the tiny cracks caused by vibrations also expanded, allowing moisture and oxygen to further corrode the column’s concrete and inner rebar. Shear stress had caused the column to yield at the joint. Structural column restoration was required.

Prior to installing HJ3’s Civil™ carbon fiber system, all loose concrete was removed with chipping hammers. The surface was abraded and cleaned, then primed. Cracks and voids were filled with HJ3’s high modulus paste, and saturated carbon fiber was applied.

The column and joint have been fully strengthened with the HJ3 Civil system.

The column and joint have been fully strengthened with the HJ3 Civil system.

The HJ3 Civil™ structural strengthening system fully completed the column restoration in only 3 hours. The client saved 80% compared to alternative steel repair methods, and the flexible carbon fiber fabric made for easy application behind obstacles.

Want more information about HJ3’s Civil™ carbon fiber systems and how they can save you money on your own structural repairs? Write us today at info@hj3.com.

HJ3 Awarded “Best Place to Work” at 2014 Copper Cactus Awards

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

WINNER-LOGOHJ3 Composite Technologies, LLC., based in Tucson, AZ, has just been named the Blue Cross Blue Shield “Best Place to Work” at the 2014 Copper Cactus Awards! Since 1997, the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce has been recognizing local small businesses and leaders that make a profound impression on their specific industries, employees, and communities. The Copper Cactus Awards, presented by Wells Fargo, serves as a showcase of the companies that have been judged “best of the best” by their peers.

hj3-copper-cactus

More than 400 companies and individuals were nominated for the prestigious award, and of them, 52 businesses and four business leaders across Southern Arizona were chosen as finalists. The awarding categories included Best Place to Work, Small Business Leader of the Year, the Charitable Non-Profit Business Award, Innovation Through Technology Award, and the Business Growth Award. HJ3 was one of 14 exceptional small businesses elected as finalists for the Best Place to Work Award; other finalists included Nextrio (an IT consulting company based in Tucson), Technicians for Sustainability (a solar energy company), and Tanque Verde Ranch (a pristine 60,000 acre ranch nestled among Tucson’s Rincon Mountains).

Focused on implementing sustainable solutions for strengthening our world’s corroding and degrading infrastructure, HJ3 manufactures, engineers, and installs advanced composite systems that have been used on over 10,000 successful applications worldwide. HJ3’s patented carbon fiber composite systems are stronger than steel, lightweight, corrosion resistant, and offer superior chemical, abrasion, temperature and fire resistance. As the world’s infrastructure continues to degrade, with an estimated price tag of $6 Trillion dollars and spending gap of $4 Trillion dollars in the U.S. alone, HJ3 allows owners to do more with less cost and less impact to the environment.

hj3-mgmt-teamHJ3 won the “Best Place to Work” award for a number of reasons, including the active atmosphere that buzzes with energy, excitement, and determination. With 15 consecutive profitable quarters and 412% revenue growth in the last three years, the company’s physical growth is known and felt by all who contribute to it. High-fives and cheering accompany moments of intense focus, and personal growth is valued just as highly as professional growth. HJ3 provides a culture that’s dedicated to the service of others; the team has committed 1,000 hours of community service every year through a philanthropic arm, named “George’s Dojo” in honor of the late George Salustro, HJ3’s former production manager. From the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Southern Arizona to an interactive science museum called Tucson Science Works, and from Habitat Humanity to the Salvation Army’s “Adopt a Family” program and countless other charities, HJ3 encourages team members to lend a helping hand wherever possible.

 

The Copper Cactus Awards Ceremony

The Copper Cactus Awards Ceremony kicked off with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and awards announcements, and finished with an after party to celebrate the hard work and dedication of Southern Arizona’s best and brightest.

For more information, please contact Adrienne Barela, Marketing Manager for HJ3, at marketing@hj3.com, or call 1-877-303-0453.

DIY Carbon Fiber

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

diy logo 2As a homeowner, you have a list 10 miles long of all the things that could potentially go wrong with your home. You probably also have a super long list of repair options for all of those potential problems. But, if you’re like me, your budget isn’t nearly as long as either of these lists, so you find yourself wondering how to pay for your repairs. You may have also realized that there are several Do-It-Yourself options that allow you to take matters into your own hands, allowing you to save money right off the top. But are all of those DIY options as reliable as hiring an expert? How do you know if your own DIY skills are adequate enough to perform the task at hand? What if you start a project, only to realize that you’re in over your head, forcing you to call a contractor anyway? Luckily, in the chaos of all of these scary questions, one solid answer emerges. And while it’s not applicable for every issue you’ll face with your home, DIY carbon fiber kits give you the power to structurally reinforce your own home in a matter of hours.

Unsure about your own abilities? You’re Stronger Than You Think! Installing StrongHold™’s carbon fiber systems is probably one of the easiest home improvement projects you can take on. As one StrongHold™ customer put it, “it’s easier than applying wallpaper.” People from all walks of Earth, with no experience in home remodeling or any other kind of repair project, have been structurally reinforcing their bowing and cracked walls and floors in less than one day. To date, StrongHold™ has been used in more than 10,000 homes without a single callback.

str repair

So what does it take to install a DIY carbon fiber kit? 7 Simple Steps:

1.  Grind off all paint and delaminated concrete.
(You can rent a grinder from most hardware stores if you don’t have one)
2.  Vacuum or brush away all dust.
3.  Wipe the wall with acetone.
4.  Prime the wall with StrongHold™ epoxy.
5.  Saturate both sides of the carbon fiber fabric.
6.  Press the carbon fiber fabric against the wall.
7.  Apply another layer of epoxy. 

That’s it! After installing your StrongHold™ kit, you can paint right over it to minimize the appearance of repair. If you decide to paint your wall, do so while the epoxy is still thumbprint tacky (about an hour after installation). If the system has already cured and you want to paint it, lightly sand the surface to abrade it before painting.

Want more information about StrongHold™’s DIY Carbon Fiber systems? Contact us today at info@hj3.com!

Cracked Wall Repair

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

When a homeowner purchased this foreclosed property with a severely cracked wall, he knew he needed something stronger than mere crack filler or mortar to repair it. The ¼”-wide crack went all the way through the block wall, and was likely caused by soil displacement. The homeowner needed structural strengthening, and his research led him to StrongHold™. After reviewing the included installation video, he realized that the pre-measured and pre-cut carbon fiber kit would be very easy to install himself. Armed with confidence and The Strongest Name in Carbon Fiber™, this homeowner got to work.

Sunlight shines through the wall's 1/4"-wide crack.

Sunlight shines through the wall’s 1/4″-wide crack.

Before applying the StrongHold™ crack repair carbon fiber fabric, the drywall was removed from the problem area. The homeowner used a mechanical grinder to remove all paint and delaminated concrete, and he vacuumed the resulting dust away to provide a clean wall for the carbon fiber to bond to.

All drywall was removed prior to installing the carbon fiber.

All drywall was removed prior to installing the carbon fiber.

After priming the wall, the homeowner applied StrongHold™’s carbon fiber fabric, which had been thoroughly saturated on both sides with the included StrongHold™ saturating resin. In this case, the crack occurred beneath a window, which had been previously removed; the homeowner wrapped both the interior and exterior of the wall. (Removing windows is not a required StrongHold™ installation step, nor is wrapping both sides of the wall. In most cases, applying carbon fiber to just the interior or exterior provides more than enough bond adhesion and strength to permanently confine your cracks.)

 

 

 

The homeowner wraps his wall with StrongHold's carbon fiber fabric.

The homeowner wraps his wall with StrongHold’s carbon fiber fabric.

The repaired wall is ready to be re-finished.

The repaired wall is ready to be re-finished.

While the StrongHold™ system was still somewhat tacky, the homeowner was able to drywall over it and paint the wall to create his desired look. By repairing his wall with StrongHold™, he saved $3,000 and a week of downtime as compared to a repair done with steel. In just a few hours, the carbon fiber repair provided him with a worry-free and maintenance-free strength that will last for decades! With StrongHold™’s carbon fiber, the homeowner gained the structural strengthening he needed, at a much better price. “I would definitely recommend HJ3’s StrongHold™ system,” he says. “It was a simple solution to kind of a tough problem.”

Interested in trying StrongHold™ for your own cracked walls? Contact us today at info@hj3.com.

Bay Bridge Corrosion Woes

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler
The New Bay Bridge and its impressive tower. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Commission

The New Bay Bridge and its impressive tower. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Commission

The new Bay Bridge, which spans the distance from Oakland to San Francisco and first showed signs of corrosion in 2011, continues to develop problems. The bridge opened in 2013, and was designed with a 150-year service life in mind, but engineers are already concerned about its collapse. And with new information that was discovered only a few weeks ago, it seems the bridge’s problems are only increasing.

The $6.5 billion suspension bridge relies on an unusual design: a single cable, comprised of 137 steel strands, loops over an impressive tower, and back under the bridge to hold it up. The cable is secured on the eastern edge of the suspension span, and is housed inside chambers that are designed to protect it from the corrosive effects of water and marine air. But investigations have indicated that, inside one of the chambers in which the suspension cable is attached, the cable’s rods and strands show visible signs of rust. The corrosion, which was confirmed in lab tests, could doom the bridge to structural damage well ahead of its planned 150-year service life.

Bolts, previously submerged by a puddle of water, already show rust. Photo Credit: SF Gate

Bolts, previously submerged by a puddle of water, already show rust. Photo Credit: SF Gate

In corrosion residue tests that were performed in two locations inside of one of the chambers, steel rust and salt deposits, which accelerate corrosion, were confirmed. The chambers, which have been designed to seal out water, were apparently drenched for about a year (from December, 2011 to December, 2012) during their construction. During that time, the cable and anchor rods were reportedly exposed to more than 21 inches of rainfall, as well as mist and humidity from the bay’s marine environment. Despite efforts to keep the chambers dry, ongoing leaks through bolt holes, which have been apparent since the bridge’s opening, have resulted in puddles of water during storms.

The corrosion, which has now been identified and confirmed by three different independent engineering experts, puts the rods and cable strands at risk, making them vulnerable to cracking. If the strands crack where they’re attached, the strength of the bridge’s single main cable will be threatened as the cracks worsen due to vibrations from passing traffic. Engineering Professor at University of California at Berkeley, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, worries that the “fracture critical” bridge “is going to collapse…if any important element fails”.

Cable rods within one of the chambers show visible signs of rust and corrosion. Photo Credit: Merced Sun Star

Cable rods within one of the chambers show visible signs of rust and corrosion. Photo Credit: Merced Sun Star

Many of the cable rods that are considered potentially vulnerable to cracking have been galvanized to prevent corrosion; now, it seems that the galvanization that was meant to protect the steel has actually lent a hand in its corrosion. The galvanizing process, which involves dipping the cable rods in molten zinc, is thought to have introduced hydrogen into the steel. The combination of rust, stress from the weight and vibrations of constant traffic, and hydrogen can create tiny cracks in the steel that grow over time, eventually resulting in the rods breaking. In fact, last year, 32 rods near the suspension span’s eastern pier snapped as a result of this rust/stress/hydrogen combination. Just a few weeks ago, the bridge’s higher-up executives learned that rust and other signs of corrosion had been visible on those rods in 2011, but no one had checked them further, or even reported their findings. Considering this, the bridge is now being compared to the Challenger space shuttle that exploded in 1986. In the shuttle’s case, the explosion occurred after engineers failed to address concerns with one simple gasket; metallurgical expert Lisa Thomas says that the “anchor rods for the bridge are what the O-rings were for the Challenger.”

A cluster of the 32 corroded rods that snapped in 2011. Photo Credit: SF Gate

A cluster of the 32 corroded rods that snapped in 2011. Photo Credit: SF Gate

The bridge’s latest defect, discovered earlier this month, is considered to be one of its most serious construction concerns yet. According to new reports, nearly every single one of the 423 steel rods anchoring the tower of the bridge’s eastern span to its base has been sitting in water, essentially inviting corrosion. Upon investigating, several of the high-strength 25-foot-long rods were found to be submerged in several feet of water. Why? Apparently, not enough grout was pumped into the protective sleeves that are designed to keep them dry. In fact, 1-2 inches of water was found on 95% of the rods at the base of the tower. 17 of those rods were not properly filled with grout, and one only had a foot of protective material for its entire 15-foot sleeve. The source of the water is currently unknown, but officials suspect that water may have leaked in from the bay. If this is the case, and the water is not a result of heavy rainfall from recent storms, bridge officials have a much larger problem on their hands. Keeping corrosive bay water from finding its way into the chambers and sleeves is far more difficult than simply keeping rainwater out.

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

This bridge utilizes carbon fiber strands for corrosion-free strength. Photo Credit: Michigan.gov

So far, engineering efforts to fix the corrosion is expected to cost bridge toll payers in the upwards of $25 million. Another $20 million has already been spent on tests to determine whether additional rods and bolts are at risk of failing like the 32 that snapped last year. Corroding rods and cables could spell tragedy for the bridge, but things can be done to prevent the bridge from collapsing. If the chambers could be sealed effectively, hot, dry air can be blown on the cable strands to drive out residual moisture lodged into the tiny crevices between wires, essentially stopping the corrosion at its current level. The rod assemblies could be cut and spliced to replace them with better-designed alternatives that help dampen vibrations. Or, perhaps, the rods themselves can be replaced entirely. Some bridge companies are turning to carbon fiber rods and cables for their non-corrosive and high-strength qualities (see my previous blog post, entitled Bridges Built with Carbon Fiber, for more information). Since carbon fiber is 10 times stronger than steel, and resistant to the corrosive effects of oxygen, water, and chemicals, it is being used in the construction and repair of more bridges than ever before.

Carbon Fiber Helps Pioneer a New Era in Airships

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler
"Father of Aeronautics" Francesco Lana de Terzi's 1670 design for an airship. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

“Father of Aeronautics” Francesco Lana de Terzi’s 1670 design for an airship. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Ever since 1670, when the “Father of Aeronautics” Francesco Lana de Terzi first designed an “Aerial Ship”, mankind has dreamed of being able to ferry people and cargo across the skies. Real traction in the effort came in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, especially with Count von Zeppelin’s rigid airship designs that allowed for further travel than ever before. But as the industry moved more towards passenger airplanes, and following the wake of the tragic Hindenburg disaster of the 1930’s, the efforts to carry large, heavy cargo via air stalled…until now.

Thanks to carbon fiber, and a combination of old technology and new, the oblong zeppelin-style airships are coming back, and the old, original dream of being able to transport heavy cargo across the skies is finally becoming a reality.

The Wingfoot One, Goodyear's newest non-blimp "blimp".  Photo Credit: Goodyear

The Wingfoot One, Goodyear’s newest non-blimp “blimp”. Photo Credit: Goodyear

Goodyear, well-known for their blimps that provide video recording of sports games, parades, and other outdoor events, recently unveiled their newest aircraft, the Wingfoot One. Although they still call it a blimp, it’s technically not; blimps by definition have no frame, and the Wingfoot One has a semi-rigid frame built from carbon fiber and aluminum. The new non-blimp “blimp” comes with many great improvements over previous models, including the ability to hover. Traditional blimps require airspeed to maneuver (all of the control surfaces rely on passing air to move the ship), which means that they typically have to circle an area repeatedly to get a few seconds of camera footage. The Wingfoot One, however, utilizes rotating engines, which allow pilots to stop the aircraft in place for an extended period of time.

Besides the ability to hover, the Wingfoot One is also much larger than Goodyear’s previous blimps. At 249 feet long, it’s 53 feet longer than their last generation of blimps, and 14 feet longer than a Boeing 747. Instead of seating 6 passengers and 1 pilot uncomfortably, Wingfoot One provides reclining seats for 12 passengers and 2 pilots, creating a much more comfortable ride. It’s faster, too; this giant, floating zeppelin tops out at 77 mph, with a cruising speed of 50 mph (a full 15 mph faster than their previous models).

The Aeroscraft is a semi-rigid airship with a carbon fiber and aluminum frame (bottom) surrounded by a silvery mylar skin (top). Photo Credits: Popular Mechanics

The Aeroscraft is a semi-rigid airship with a carbon fiber and aluminum frame (bottom) surrounded by a silvery mylar skin (top). Photo Credits: Popular Mechanics

But while Goodyear is developing carbon fiber “blimps” for better camera recording, another company, run by Kazak engineer Igor Pasternak, is building them for much larger purposes, such as transporting giant turbines or mining equipment to remote areas of the globe. Introducing: The Aeroscraft, a massive, 266-foot-long and 110-foot-wide rigid aircraft that more resembles a shiny whale shark than it does anything you’d expect to be able to fly.

The Aeroscraft is constructed with a carbon fiber and aluminum frame inside a skin of shiny mylar composite material, and provides a cruising speed of 115 mph, more than twice that of the Wingfoot One. What really makes this airship so special, though, is its innovative buoyancy system, inspired by buoyancy systems of submarines. When a submarine descends, it draws in seawater, and then pumps it back out again to increase buoyancy and return to the surface. The Aeroscraft follows that exact technology, but with air instead of water. The airship is equipped with 18 very large helium tanks and expansion bladders. When the helium is compressed inside the tanks, a partial vacuum will develop around the expansion bladders, which fill with air from outside the craft. Since air is heavier than helium, the buoyancy drops, and the ship descends. When the helium tanks release helium back into the main envelope of the ship itself, the expansion bladders deflate to neutralize the internal air pressure, forcing the in-drawn air back outside of the craft. As a result, the buoyancy increases, and the ship rises.

But the Aeroscraft’s buoyancy system isn’t the only factor that separates it from other aircrafts. While conventional airships require ground crews and runways, this one doesn’t, which would allow it to fly to a roadless region of a desolate area, settle on the tundra to unload mining equipment or other material from its huge cargo compartment, and take off again entirely on its own. It has the capability of delivering huge wind turbines, slung below the hull, or other large loads normally only capable of being handled by ocean freighters.While still in the prototype phase, the Aeroscraft has successfully completed its first lift-off, during which the ship rose 35 feet before settling back to Earth.

The Aeroscraft utilizes helium tanks (1) to fill the ship's "skin" (2), making the craft rise. To descend, air bladders (3) intake air from outside the ship. Photo Credit: Popular Mechanics.

The Aeroscraft utilizes helium tanks (1) to fill the ship’s “skin” (2), making the craft rise. To descend, air bladders (3) intake air from outside the ship. Photo Credit: Popular Mechanics.

The biggest challenge posed in the construction of the Aeroscraft was a matter of weight: the buoyancy system, while innovative, requires heavy tanks and pumps, and a very strong (typically heavy) hull structure. By building the frame out of carbon fiber, the company was able to gain massive strength for the hull, with very minimal weight in the frame itself.

While the Aeroscraft is the largest rigid airship built in the United States since the 1940’s, it’s nothing compared to Pasternak’s big-picture vision. The inventor’s next goal is to acquire an entire fleet of 555-foot-long airships, each capable of carrying some 66 tons of cargo. By 2020, Pasternak predicts that he’ll already have a fleet of 24 of these flying behemoths. But he’s not stopping there: ultimately, he envisions launching an airship capable of carrying 250 tons of cargo. This dream craft will be a whopping 770 feet long (3 times longer than a Boeing 747)!

In the past 10 years, several companies have invested millions of dollars into the continued development of these huge airships, which, as it turns out, may not be a bad investment. A study performed by the Pentagon’s U.S. Transportation Command discovered that large airships like these would be able to transport cargo far less expensively than fixed-wing planes. The airships cost 1/3 of the price of a Boeing 747 and use 2/3 less fuel, and can carry much, much larger loads. Considering this, and the fact that these ships have been designed and redesigned since the late 1600’s, why is it that they’re just now becoming a realistic freight option? According to Pasternak, it’s “very simple…we are ready.”

Ceiling Cracks: Causes and Remedies

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler

MoneyHouseYour home is your biggest investment. It’s probably your largest purchase, ever, and you want to keep it strong and safe for a really long time, right? So you’re probably already aware of that crack going through your living room ceiling…and wondering what to do about it. But before I give you a solution (and don’t worry, I will), it’s important to know what caused that crack in the first place.

All structures are susceptible to movement as they age. With movement often comes cracking, so cracks aren’t automatically a cause for concern. Sometimes, they’re just a sign of old age, like the wrinkles that developed in your parents’ faces as you grew up and they grew older. But sometimes, cracks are a symptom of another factor at play, which can be a cause for concern. If, after reading this article, you’re still unsure whether your cracks are minor or structural, contact a foundation specialist who can give you better clarity.

A number of factors other than age can cause your ceiling to crack. Heavy moisture, from large storms, improper roof drainage or a plumbing leak from the floor above, is probably the most common culprit of cracked ceilings. A combination of moisture and temperature fluctuations could also lead to the cracking, as could damaged joists or support beams, too much weight from the floor above, or, (cue scary music)…foundation issues. And while each of these problems can be repaired, your cost to do so will probably be much lower if you do it today instead of next year.

A sagging roofline could be a sign of foundation damage. Photo Credit: fotothing.com

A sagging roofline could be a sign of foundation damage. Photo Credit: fotothing.com

To better understand your home’s situation, let’s go outside. Look up at your roofline. Does it sag? Now look at your foundation and exterior walls. Are they cracked? Are there gaps between your bricks and windows, or are bricks leaning away from garage doors or chimneys? Any one of these signs can be symptoms of a failing foundation, and you might want to consider calling a foundation expert to inspect it further.

 

Ceiling cracks that continue down the wall are usually structural and should be repaired as soon as possible. Photo Credit: Dupre Consulting Services

Ceiling cracks that continue down the wall are usually structural and should be repaired as soon as possible. Photo Credit: Dupre Consulting Services

Now that we’ve visually inspected your home’s exterior, let’s check out the inside. Do your ceiling cracks follow a spiderweb pattern? These cracks are usually a sign of age, but if they’re wider than 1/16th of an inch, they could be more of a structural concern than an aesthetic one. In general, it’s a good idea to follow the 1/16th of an inch width guideline for all the cracks in your home. Do your cracks seem to occur around the edges of your ceiling, or do they go through the middle of it? Cracks that occur near the edges of your ceiling are not usually an issue for concern, but those that cut through the middle of your ceiling are likely structural, and will require repair. Do your ceiling cracks run along the length of the ceiling, continuing down a wall along the same line? Is there a bow or dip that accompanies your cracks? These are both indicators of structural damage. If a bow accompanies your cracks, it’s probably because the joists that are meant to hold up to the weight of your home and remain level have weakened, and gravity is pulling your ceiling down; this is a serious structural issue and you should take action immediately to fix it. Do you have an attic? Let’s go up there next, but I’m warning you that you might get dirty. Inspect the underside of your roof sheeting, ceiling joists (you might have to pull insulation out of the way – use gloves! that stuff is itchy!), drywall, and inside the soffit or fascia area. Look for water stains and rotting wood, which will indicate a water drainage problem. You might want to push a screwdriver into any area that you suspect could be rotten; if the material is soft, it’s probably rotted out and needs to be replaced.

The StrongHold carbon fiber system successfully strengthened this homeowner's structurally-cracked ceiling.

The StrongHold carbon fiber system successfully strengthened this homeowner’s structurally-cracked ceiling.

Ok, so now you have a better idea of what caused your home’s cracks and the severity of them (hopefully). But what do you do about them? Well, if your cracks are a result of water damage, you should call an expert to repair it (but I probably didn’t need to tell you that). If they’re structural, you should probably still call an expert, but there’s actually a lot that you can do yourself. Inject your cracks with an epoxy or urethane material to seal them (but keep in mind that if they’re structural cracks, sealing them only acts as a bandaid and doesn’t actually solve the problem or prevent more cracking in the future). Reinforce your ceiling’s beams by applying  carbon fiber straps in a criss-cross pattern across the entire ceiling slab, and paint over it to minimize the appearance. Cracked or sagging beams in your attic or basement can also be strengthened by wrapping carbon fiber around them. StrongHold™’s carbon fiber is 10 times stronger than steel and completely maintenance-free, so you can fix it and forget about it.

Want more information about StrongHold™’s carbon fiber, or ready to place an order? Email us at info@hj3.com or call us at 520-322-0010.

Prevent Mining Disasters with Carbon Fiber

Posted on by Alyssa Wedler
A memorial for the 361 miners who died in the worst mining disaster in America's history. Credit: Associated Press

A memorial for the 361 miners who died in the worst mining disaster in America’s history. Credit: Associated Press

Mining is one of the most dangerous occupations there is. Every year, hundreds of miners die in accidents from collapses, explosions, and fires. The good news is that mining accidents and the deaths associated with them have declined drastically in the past 40 years, and even more so in the past 100+ years. The bad news is that mines are still highly dangerous. According to the MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration), 1907 was the “deadliest year in U.S. coal mining history…when an estimated 3,242 deaths occurred.” In that year, 361 people were killed in the United States’ worst mine explosion ever, near Monongah, West Virginia. In May of this year, 301 miners were killed in Turkey’s largest mining explosion, which is especially alarming considering the upgraded mining health and safety regulations that have been established and improved upon since the 1970’s.

 

Mining disasters have declined significantly since the industry started. Credit: MSHA.gov

Mining disasters have declined significantly since the industry started. Credit: MSHA.gov

A “mining disaster” refers to a mining incident which kills 5 or more people.  From 1976 to present, fewer than 20 total mining disasters have occurred in the United States, compared with 526 mining disasters that occurred between 1901 and 1950.  Statistics from MSHA and other government agencies show that U.S. mining fatalities and accidents in general have declined significantly, but accidents still occur alarmingly frequently in other parts of the world.  China remains one of the deadliest mining countries, resulting in more than a thousand deaths last year, despite recent safety gains.  China also claims the deadliest mining disaster in the world’s history, having killed 1,549 miners in April, 1942.  But recent mining events are prevalent, too.  For example, Chile’s 2010 mining accident trapped 33 miners underground for 2 weeks (luckily, 31 of them survived).  Just two weeks ago, 5 miners died in a mine collapse in Bosnia, and in August, another 25 passed away in a rebel-held mine in the Central African Republic town of Bombari.  Several other mine accidents have occurred in the past decade, many of them this year.

 

 Corroded columns like these can mean disaster for a mine.


Corroded columns like these can mean disaster for a mine.

So is there anything that can be done to make the world’s mines safer?  As a matter of fact, there is.  At HJ3, we’ve helped improve the safety of several mines in the Southwest United States by strengthening their concrete and steel structures.  Many modern mine collapses are due to vibrations from large equipment, so strengthening their support systems can drastically reduce the risk of collapse from these vibrations.  Many of the world’s mines are over 100 years old, and the concrete beams and columns that support them have corroded due to the constant exposure to vibration, moisture, sulfuric acid, and the mines’ own elctrowinning processes.

 

A corroded column (left) is restored with HJ3's CarbonSeal system (right).

A corroded column (left) is restored with HJ3’s CarbonSeal system (right).

Some of the mines that HJ3 has reinforced were so badly degraded that they risked being shut down by MSHA.  With a layer of CarbonSeal™’s glass composite and carbon fiber fabrics, the columns and beams in these degraded mines have been restored, providing greater strength than the mines have seen in the past 100 years.  Since HJ3’s composite systems are 1o times stronger than steel and highly chemical-resistant, they’re ideal for reinforcing corroded structures that are exposed to harsh mining conditions.  And since the systems come as a lightweight, flexible fabric, they’re ideal for narrow or otherwise difficult-to-get-into spaces.

Do you know of a mine that could use some structural strengthening?  Join HJ3 in our quest to save lives and resources everywhere!  Contact us at info@hj3.com for more information.