ASCE Will Present Upcoming 2008 Charles Pankow Award

Staff | September 28, 2010

A new collaborative design-build project to create a lightweight modular composite firewall system was selected to receive the 2008 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation. The American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Civil Engineering Forum for Innovation (CEFI), will present the award at ASCE's 2008 Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Awards Gala in April at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va.

Composite Support & Solutions Inc., Southern California Edison, San Diego State University Research Foundation and the University of Southern California developed Intelli-Firewall — a lightweight modular firewall system that protects each transformer and isolates the potential damage associated with a catastrophic failure.

The team used chemically-bonded ceramics (CBCs) as a resin and created an advanced composite material by combining that resin with glass and carbon fibers. Pultrusion technology was adapted to combine CBC material and fibers in unique ways, and the resulting composite material has demonstrated fire-resistant characteristics and a mechanical toughness, which were impossible to achieve with the CBC resin alone.

Intelli-Firewall consists of a 35 foot by 35 foot wall constructed with 28 panels assembled in four vertical sections. The vertical columns holding these sections are prefabricated, fire-protected steel beams with durable bolt-on covers, making the firewall both easy to assemble and remove, should access be necessary to address a transformer maintenance issue. The lightweight nature of the panels allows lifting with a small crane or manlift, and the cellular panels provide the necessary structural characteristics and fire resistance, while at the same time reducing the overall weight of the system.

The Pankow Award recognizes the contributions of organizations involved in a collaborative effort that demonstrates innovative design, materials or construction-related research and development transferred into practice in a sustainable manner.