ECS Engineering Services has installed what it says is the UK’s first ever set of molded fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) lock gates on the River Thames.

The new gates, fitted on behalf of the Environment Agency, could offer reduced maintenance requirements and whole life costs when compared to steel or timber alternatives. They feature a material structure called InfraCore Inside, patented by composite instructure specialist FiberCore Europe, which consists of layered glass fiber reinforced polymers and a thermosetting resin. Each FRP lock gate is prefabricated and the material is also inherently fire resistant. Each of the two replacement FRP gates measures 4m high x 4.5m wide and has a mass of approximately 10 tonnes.

“FRP gates can be designed to be lighter than timber and significantly lighter than steel alternatives,’ said David Searle, operations manager at ECS. “This lightness means that operating forces to open and close gates are reduced, which results in less energy consumption. Another benefit is less wear on components such as bearings, along with reduced strain on the surrounding dock chamber structure.”