Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

2016-06-24

B.F.I. delivers watertight support for Panama Canal geotextiles

High Tenacity UV-resistant fibres from Beaulieu Fibres International (B.F.I.), the leading European polypropylene (PP) staple fibre supplier, are the secret strength behind Manifattura Fontana’s state-of-the-art geotextiles helping to waterproof and protect the new Panama Canal extensions.

The Panama Canal Expansion is the largest project at the Canal since its original construction. The project will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterway’s capacity. The Panama Canal is approximately 80 kilometers long between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The new locks will create the increased canal width and depth necessary to support modern container ships. At total of 18 Water Saving Basins, 9 on the Atlantic side locks and 9 on the Pacific side locks, were waterproofed with PVC geomembranes and geocomposites. Members of the construction works consortium include the Spanish contractor Sacyr, Salini-Impregilo of Italy, Jan de Nul of Belgium and the Panamanian company CUSA. The waterproofing contractor is the Dutch company Carpi Tech.

To successfully waterproof and provide long-term protection support to the canal Water Saving Basins, Manifattura Fontana S.p.A. supplied advanced PP geotextiles to act as an anti-puncture layer and to increase the tensile strength of the waterproofing liner, a PVC geomembrane, satisfying Carpi Tech’s technical specifications for SIBELON® CNT PVC geocomposite.  The resulting geocomposite is capable of meeting the extensive physical requirements and high mechanical demands.

Having used fibres from B.F.I. in geotextiles for many similar hydraulic applications around the world, Manifattura Fontana worked with B.F.I. once again to develop a tailored High Tenacity fibre for this application. The UV-resistant PP fibres were transformed by Manifattura Fontana into specific geotechnical nonwoven fabrics for use at Panama. The 100% PP nonwoven was heat-bonded to a SIBELON® PVC geomembrane produced by Mapei for Carpi Tech, to achieve a robust liner where the mechanical characteristics of the waterproofing layer, the PVC geomembrane, are improved by the properties of the geotextile layer – a challenging process requiring close technical support from the B.F.I. team. 

For this project, Manifattura Fontana supplied approximately 800,000 sq. metres of lightweight geotextile for the PVC waterproofing membrane and more than 100,000 sq metres of heavy-duty geotextiles for the protection function where the waterproofing liner was covered by ballast.

Pic: Pacific-facing Cocoli Locks of the Expanded Panama Canal

Francesco Fontana, Owner of Manifattura Fontana, comments: “For such a significant, large-scale project our customers need to rely on the best mechanical performance and hydraulic characteristics, as well as state-of-the-art durability of materials. Consistency of these high standards is essential in order to guarantee the final result. On the basis of 15 years of technical collaboration with Beaulieu Fibres International and its fibre expertise, we knew the company would be the right sole supplier to help us achieve geotextiles reaching the high standards required, within the tight timescale. We were proved right.”

 “B.F.I. was pleased to provide Manifattura Fontana with the right fibre performance, consistent reliability and the technical and commercial support to ensure they could deliver large quantities of high-performance geotextiles across the Atlantic for this complex engineering project,” comments Donald De Deygere, Sales & Marketing Manager, Beaulieu Fibres International. 


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