Boat dock from innovative materials constructed in Miami

Boat dock from innovative materials constructed in Miami
Vanessa Benzecry, a graduate student in the University of Miami College of Engineering, spearheaded the entire project. Photo: Evan Garcia/University of Miami. Credit:

A unique boat dock has been constructed using composite rebar and concrete mixed with seawater.

The boat dock constructed on Miami coast (Florida, USA) looks like any other docks made from traditional materials. It was assembled at the installation site from finished parts delivered by sea. However, it is unique thanks to the materials and technologies used in the manufacture process.

Seawater is one of the ingredients of this concrete – that is unusual since salts accelerate the corrosion resulting in destroying steel rebars inside concrete structures. To produce conventional concrete, only fresh water is used but it is scarce on our planet.

Furthermore, large concrete aggregates are washed using fresh water to remove all possible salt deposits and to extend the structure service life.

The innovative boat dock was build on the site where steel reinforced concrete dock had been located before Hurricane Irma destroyed it. The concrete pilings were 30 years old, and seawater corroded steel rebars inside the structure so that it was powerless against the storm.

Developed under special project financed by EU, special concrete called Seacon was used to produce new dock elements.

This concrete is reinforced with composite polymer rebar, which is highly resistant to aggressive environments: acids, alkali, salt, etc. The experimental boat dock in Miami is reinforced with basalt fiber-reinforced polymer and glass fiber-reinforced rebars.

In addition to non-corrosive qualities, composite rebars are about one-fourth the weight of steel reinforced rebars of the same size. This aspect makes transportation and installation easier. Concrete structures reinforced with composite polymer rebar weigh less than their steel counterparts.

Researchers at the University of Miami College of Engineering collaborated with Dock company and Marine Construction to develop the new boat dock called iDock from novel structural materials.

The University of Miami is involved in the study and implementation of composites in infrastructure projects. They have constructed concrete bridge reinforced with basalt fiber composites and installed it on the University campus. For this project the University received several awards. In the time being a modern composite bridge over the Halls River is nearing completion under the supervision of the University representatives.

Translated by Olga Yurchenko


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