Friday, September 11, 2009

Composite Road Mats - For Oil Fields

The US consumes a ton of oil, far more then we produce, and according to a DOE EIA Report, the US imports about 2/3'rds of the oil consumed, with Canada providing the largest portion of oil to the US. As of June 2009, the US was consuming 2 million barrels of Canadian Oil, or Alberta Tea as I like to call it...

To get these 2 million barrels a day to pipelines, massive temporary roads are constructed, going over the difficult terrain of the tundra and swampy bogs. Giant 8' x 15' mats are placed together to create a road. These roads have massive trucks with heavy loads going back and forth over uneven ground. Needless to say, these mats take a serious beating.

Traditionally, mats are made with thick planks of wood and steel frames. These however are extremely heavy, and do not last as long as desired. More recently, composite materials are being introduced using light weight sandwich panels. The requirements are not easy as the panels need to be stiff, withstand wear and impact, and be able to connect to other panels.

Here is a recent article from the Oil & gas inquirer, describing a composite road mat system using a polypropylene honeycomb core and FRP skins. The article also discusses alternative methods to constructing these roads using wood chips over geotextile mats...

Photo Credit: jakesmome via flicker

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