After it tried out two Fibrelite composite steam manhole covers, the University of Florida in Gainesville has decided to replace all metal steam covers across its campus with the composite units. University officials were impressed with the “cool-to-touch” properties of the composite units.

The university decided to seek an alternative to its existing covers after concerns were raised internally regarding public safety. “Two traditional cast-iron steam covers were reaching such extreme high surface temperatures that they had to be blocked off,” says David Holmes, Fibrelite technical director. Holmes adds that the heavy weight of the metal covers was also a concern to utility staff who sometimes were called on to manually handle the metal covers. Lifting the units could potentially cause injury.

The thermal gradient properties of the company’s composite steam covers reduce the heat transfer from a steam vault to the surface of the cover. Typically the surface temperature of a Fibrelite cover is only slightly above ambient temperature, even when subjected to extremely hot temperatures on the underside. The company’s composite steam covers maintain their cool-to-touch properties and ability to support vehicular loads even when pushed to a test temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

An ergonomic lifting handle available for the composite units enables easy and safe lifting. The handle eliminates the risk of manual handling injuries, according to the company.

The composite steam covers are available in a range of sizes and load ratings. The durable units are designed to be easy to install. The sturdy covers are maintenance-free and light in weight, according to the company. The product incorporates an anti-slip/skid surface for safety.

Colored Covers for Easy Identification

The composite covers can be molded in virtually any color or color-combination. Because the pigment is added into the resin during manufacture, there are no problems with the color scratching or fading over time. The covers can incorporate logos and/or be color-coded to match a facility’s branding — or even to identify the specific underground service that can be accessed via a particular cover.

For trenches, custom-made covering solutions are available on request. This means that dimensions, internal stiffeners and fiber-architecture can be altered to optimize the performance of each panel based on project-specific design criteria.

Fibrelite, which has U.S. offices in Smithfield, N.C., has been doing composite technology research since 1980. The company engineered the first composite manhole cover. The firm designed the cover for use in gas stations, to eliminate potential health and safety issues associated with traditional metal covers.

In the video, learn how to remove and replace Fibrelite's covers using a specialised easy lift handle, the FL7A.

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