Availability & Versatility
Hot-dip galvanized (HDG) steel is versatile and readily available. A wide variety of shapes and sizes ranging from small nuts, bolts, and fasteners to larger structural pieces, to even the most intricately detailed artistic pieces, can be galvanized. Because of the total immersion process, even complex fabrications can be coated entirely for corrosion protection.
Many corrosion protection methods depend on proper temperature and humidity conditions for correct application. However, because hot-dip galvanizing is a factory controlled process, it can be accomplished 24/7/365 rain or shine. Zinc solidifies upon withdrawal from the bath, so there are no delays for curing; and galvanized steel could realistically be galvanized, shipped to the site, and erected on the same day. On the other hand, if the galvanized material does not need to be installed immediately, it is easily stored outside, as UV rays do not degrade the coatings integrity.
The quick turnaround time and simple storage can be especially beneficial in the nuclear market as lengthy construction schedules are common due to intense scrutiny and care during construction. Utilizing galvanized steel components allows for speedy recovery after halts in the schedule to minimize wasted time and cost.
As North America continues to strive for energy independence and a sustainable generation source, the same thinking should be applied to the materials used in constructing the new power system. Another characteristic of zinc, making it ideally suited for this job is its abundance. The main materials used in the galvanizing process, zinc and steel are common; in fact, zinc is the 24th most abundant material in the earths crust. Zinc and steel are also both 100% recyclable without the loss of any chemical or physical properties steel is the most recycled material in the world.
Zinc is a natural element found in air, soil, and water. Approximately 5.8 million tons of zinc are cycled through the atmosphere annually through natural phenomena. Zinc is also common and essential to life. Zinc is found in a number of products we use daily such as cosmetics, tires, cold remedies, baby creams to prevent diaper rash, treatments for sunburns, and sunscreens. In fact, zinc oxide blocks more UV rays than any other single ingredient. Furthermore, we all require zinc to live as it helps with regular functions such as vision, reproduction, digestion, and breathing.
Ease of Expansion
In addition to the abundance and quick turnaround time, galvanized steel also facilitates the expansion of existing structures due to its flexibility and stockability. Galvanized steel members are easy to retrofit and expand by welding, bolting, and/or splicing of existing vertical and horizontal structural elements and adding reinforcement.
Adding to existing structures allows you to maximize the efficiency of available space. Steel members are lighter than many other materials (i.e. concrete and wood) but still provide great strength, so expansion within the same footprint is possible. This flexibility is important as no one wants new towers or poles in their backyard, but want all of the convenience of consistent power resources, so utilizing galvanized steel allows you to transmit and distribute more power without distracting from the landscape.
Furthermore, because of hot-dip galvanized steel durable, maintenance-free nature, elements can be stockpiled outside for years without compromising the zinc coating and its corrosion protection. The zinc coating of HDG is unaffected by UV rays, extreme temperatures, rain, snow, or humidity, so with proper storage, it is simple to keep an inventory on hand for quick replacement. This is especially beneficial as many facets of the power industry, possibly even more than other construction sectors, use the same product repeatedly, such as lattice towers, substation components, solar racking structures, etc. Stocking these frequently used parts until they are needed saves time, and if bought when prices are low, saves money.
This can be very beneficial in transmission and distribution, as stockpiling additional poles and tower elements mean quick replacement of structures that have reached their service life and/or those damaged or knocked over by storms, vehicles, trees, or other unexpected issues. Quick replacement after an accident or event ensures power is restored rapidly minimizing cost.
Availability & Versatility Case Study
Aero Pole Max Expansion Project - Throughout North America 2007
As wireless companies have grown to meet consumer demand, so has the need for new antennas to carry and transmit the signals. Municipalities do not want new towers built, nor does the public desire them in their backyard, but everyone needs his/her cell phone to work. Aero-Solutions Pole-Max serves as a simple solution to add antennas onto existing towers. While doing so can be problematic antennas add more mass and wind load to a structure not built to accommodate such additions each Pole-Max system developed is compliant with governing design codes.
Special purpose, high-strength galvanized channel is used, capitalizing on the quick turnaround of the galvanizing process. Because galvanizing is not a weather-dependent process, it can be completed year-round without common delays. With quick delivery and fast installation, Pole-Max takes advantage of this benefit. Because Pole-Max is installed on galvanized monopole structures, the finish of the reinforcing channel closely matches the existing pole - and the protected steel will stand up to the elements for generations to come.
Nearly 24,000 of the approximately 80,000 monopoles throughout North America could benefit from Aero-Solutions Pole-Max retrofit to upgrade poles to higher load designs, making the market for this long-lasting, galvanized product wide open, and because galvanized monopoles are expected to perform for decades without maintenance, galvanizing will continue to be the best choice for the additional poles.