Home » Eco-friendly geosynthetics combat the effects of climate change

Eco-friendly geosynthetics combat the effects of climate change

by Tia

Fibertex specialists – with decades of experience in coastal protection – work closely with authorities around the world designing advanced ecological solutions to protect shoreline areas and save buildings and infrastructure.  

“The installation of well-engineered and durable coastal protection structures to prevent damage on our shorelines has never been more critical,” says Sefton Fripp, Managing Director, Fibertex SA, specialists in the manufacture and support of nonwovens and performance-based materials. “In addition to coastal rehabilitation, authorities need to look at ways to reinforce rivers and avoid devastating flooding of populated areas. It is also critical that engineers do everything possible to preserve the integrity of concrete structures that are affected by salt water, high temperatures and increased CO² levels and consider sustainable solutions that gently prevent soil erosion.

“Eco-friendly Fibertex products have also been developed to withstand the effects of harsh wave action and are the perfect protection solution that allows beaches to retain their natural beauty.

“Fibertex materials are suitable for use in all infrastructure projects, including roads and railways, earth structures and tailings dams and landfills. Our geosynthetics are also used for drainage and filtration systems, hydraulic works and in challenging construction projects.”

Coastal protection

Ageing seaside infrastructure, large waves and narrowing beach widths, all contribute to the urgent need for coastal rehabilitation, to ensure greater environmental protection.

The company manufactures FiberRock® Geosynthetic Sand Containers (GSC’s) that are used in the construction of efficient protection structures for coastal protection, erosion control, dune revetments and slope stabilisation, as well as for emergency protection in floods.

According to Fibertex specialists, using large sandbags as structural components of revetments is not a new trend in environmental protection, but the Fibertex operation has made a substantial investment to design and manufacture the robust, eco-friendly FiberRock® GSC system, as an alternative to conventional rigid revetment structures.

The function of the lightweight and workable GSC system is to allow the free passage of water through the porous structure of the fabric and into the sand it carries, to absorb wave energy, while retaining the sand fill in the bag. This is unlike hard concrete structures that predominantly protect by means of wave energy reflection, which could have a negative long-term impact on adjacent structures.

FiberRock® GSC’s consist of a strong porous base fabric, which is mechanically needlepunched together with a coarse anti-abrasion and vandal resistant (AVL) cover layer. This durable fabric combination offers a flexible structure designed to retain a course fill medium – like sand – while allowing the free passage of water.

FiberRock® geotextile sand containers, which are manufactured from highly UV stabilised virgin Polypropylene (PP) fibres, can withstand the effects of repeated wave attacks in harsh coastal environments and are the perfect soft solution to beach rehabilitation and coastal protection.

The Fibertex team has given particular attention to critical factors in the development of this system, including abrasion, perforation, puncture and UV resistance, as well as tensile strength, elongation, permeability and drainage.

GSC material selection is critical to the long-term stability of the entire structure. In the case of coastal protection applications, where high energy bi-directional flow conditions are encountered, needlepunched staple fibre (SF) geotextiles are preferred. They have proven to be durable and the staple fibre geotextiles do not delaminate under the harsh flow conditions expected from wave action.

Fibertex has selected virgin Polypropylene fibre, with excellent frictional and low density characteristics, as the basis for manufacturing its GSC fabrics. Polypropylene has better performance to weight ratio than other more dense polymers, such as Polyester.

Although Polyester is a strong, durable polymer, Polypropylene is preferred globally in the manufacture of heavy grade/voluminous GSC fabrics.

Other important properties for appropriate product selection include the design of the revetment structure, where environmental influences such as wave velocity, wave amplitude, wave period and wave direction need to be considered.

Size selection of GSC’s for each application is also critical. Smaller GSC’s might be sufficient for less harsh conditions, but direct wave attacks often require a larger, more stable FiberRock® GSC’s. The correct installation procedure and optimal filling and closure of GSC’s prevent free movement of the bag, to ensure the long-term stability of the structure.

Fibertex GSC’s, which are available in sizes between 200 kg and 4 000 kg, can be used in riverine, lagoon and coastal protection works, depending on specific environmental and engineering requirements of the designed structure.

Fibertex SA has supplied FiberRock® GSC’s for use in many local projects, as well as large scale revetment structures in Africa, the Indian Ocean Islands, as well as in Europe and Australasia.

High-performance Fibertex materials – which comply with stringent quality, environmental and health specifications – play an important role in diverse sectors, including acoustics, automotive, bedding, building, composites, concrete, filtration, flooring, furniture, geotextiles, medico and wipes.

The company’s geosynthetics range encompasses nonwoven and woven geotextiles, gabions and mattresses, drainage pipes and fittings and erosion control and cellular confinement solutions. The company also supplies soil reinforcing products, including geogrids and geocells, as well as geosynthetic clay liners as part of composite lining systems in modern landfills.

Fibertex is the largest manufacturer of UV stabilised virgin PP (polypropylene) nonwoven geotextiles produced in Africa, with certification for durability of over 100 years, in accordance with the latest EN standards.

The Fibertex team offers a technical advisory and support service to its broad customer base and works hard to protect the environment by incorporating sustainable products and practices into every customised solution.

Additional information

Fibertex manufactures a wide range of durable products for coastal rehabilitation. These environmentally-friendly solutions include:

  • Fibertex F-range for separation and filtration
  • Fibertex M-range for drainage and protection in marine applications
  • Geocontainers for beach revetment, breakwaters and artificial reefs
  • Formtex for in-situ concrete structures, such as harbour walls and bridges
  • Greencells for stabilising embankments, river banks, sand dunes and canals
  • Erosion mats

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