World’s largest composite lock gates installed

  • Very high strength and stiffness requirements
  • 25 and 50% weight reduction compared to steel and wood doors
  • Highly competitive in terms of cost

Earlier this year, innovative composite lock gates were installed in the Wilhelmina Canal in Tilburg (The Netherlands). These huge lock gates (6.2 x 12.9 m) were manufactured by FiberCore Europe with resins from Aliancys. The installation was relatively easy, because of the low weight of the parts in comparison with steel and wood. The composite solution was chosen for its extended lifetime expectancy (over 80 years), greater durability in continued contact with water, and minimal requirement for maintenance.

Very high strength and stiffness requirements

While smaller composite lock gates have been installed in recent years, so far the number of installation projects is limited. The use of the large composite lock gates (size of each part 6.2 x 12.9 m) in the Tilburg project, means a major breakthrough in the acceptance of composite technology for this demanding application. The individual gate doors need to have very high strength and stiffness (remaining in shape with water heights up to 7.9 m), are required to resist water in continued contact for over 80 years, and survive an eventual impact of ships without blocking the locks.

Overview: composite lock gate installation

25 and 50% weight reduction compared to steel and wood doors

The composite parts were designed and manufactured by FiberCore Europe with Synolite 1967-G-9 resin from Aliancys, using InfraCore Inside technology (patented worldwide, has been already used for over 500 bridges, bridge decks and structural installations).

The parts fulfilled all relevant technical requirements as defined by the project owner. The large doors have a relatively low weight (24 MT) which is significantly lower than comparable solutions in steel and wood (respectively 50 % and 25 % less). This makes the installation much easier, requiring simpler equipment and upfront preparation. Because the fact that the specific gravity of the door material is fairly close to the one of water (unlike steel), the wear and tear on the pivoting points is greatly reduced.

Highly competitive in terms of cost

“Lock gates in composite materials are highly competitive in terms of cost compared to traditional material solutions based on steel and wood”, explains Harald de Graaf, CEO of FiberCore Europe. “Steel and wood gates require repainting or treatment on a regular basis and for that purpose need to be removed from the lock (with an interrupted operation of the lock as a result). In many cases, wooden gates need to be replaced with new ones because the water will ultimately penetrate in the material and reduce mechanical properties.”

Wilhelmina Canal is a vital part of the transportation infrastructure

The Wilhelmina Canal is an important water way in the South of the Netherlands, and a vital part of the transportation infrastructure. In order to keep up with the increasing water traffic and increasing size of the ships (up to Class IV), the Wilhelmina Canal is being widened and deepened near the city of Tilburg. The project has been commissioned by the Dutch water way authorities (Rijkswaterstaat), and is executed by a combination of construction companies Heijmans and Boskalis. Installation of the lock gates was done by the construction company Hillebrand.

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