In a June 22 press release, Belgium-based Beaulieu Fibres International described how it delivered watertight support to Italy’s Manifattura Fontana S.p.A. (Sioen Group) for manufacturing geosynthetic materials installed in the Panama Canal expansion project.
The massive engineering feat, which doubled the waterway’s capacity, was celebrated during inauguration festivities June 26.
The press release noted that Beaulieu’s high-tenacity, UV-resistant, polypropylene (PP) staple fibers provided Manifattura with the key materials to manufacture geotextiles that helped to waterproof and protect the new Panama Canal extensions.
The Panama Canal is about 50 miles (80km) long between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The new locks system will now create the expanded canal’s width and depth necessary to support modern container ships. A total of 18 water saving basins, nine on the Atlantic side locks and nine on the Pacific side locks, were waterproofed with PVC geomembranes and geocomposites. The waterproofing contractor was Netherlands-based Carpi Tech.
The release said that to waterproof and to provide long-term protection support to the canal’s water saving basins, Manifattura supplied advanced PP geotextiles to act as an anti-puncture layer and to increase the tensile strength of the waterproofing liner, a PVC geomembrane. The 100% PP nonwoven was heat-bonded to the PVC geomembrane, produced by Italy-based Mapei, for Carpi Tech to achieve a liner where the mechanical characteristics of the waterproofing layer, the PVC geomembrane, are improved by the properties of the geotextile layer.
For this project, Manifattura Fontana supplied approximately 970,000 sq.yards (800,000 sq.meters) of lightweight geotextile for the PVC waterproofing membrane and more than 120,000 sq.yards (100,000 sq.meters) of heavy-duty geotextiles for the protection function where the waterproofing liner was covered by ballast.