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2021 January February Marina World

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PONTOON/DOCK SYSTEMS & DECKING EcoPile: A ‘forever’ solution EcoPile installed in Jacksonville, Florida. As the vice president of sales of a small, family-owned business, Shoreline Plastics’ Austin Porter wears many hats. Over the past few years, one of these has been to help develop the EcoPile – a fully composite piling that lasts “forever” and is designed to replace traditional wood pilings. Porter has been with the product from its initial conception, from building the tools and equipment to produce it to working with contractors on projects to see how it performs in real-world applications. The final design has been in service for just over a year and has performed exceptionally well. “It’s proved to be lighter and easier for contractors to use, very cost-effective when compared to other composite Below left: mooring solution combining EcoPile composite piling with WearDeck composite dock boards. Below right: EcoPile in profile reveals the webbing structure that gives it extra strength. piling options and environmentallyfriendly,” Porter says. Until recently, few products have rivalled wood’s strength and longevity. But with regulations around the world outlawing the use of the preservative Creosote, traditional wood pilings “simply don’t hold up like they used to,” says Porter. Additionally, the speed at which wood is grown makes it less dense, shortening its useful life. Cleaner waters, too, play their part, allowing marine boring organisms to flourish. “Some hot spots in Florida see wood pilings fail in as few as five years, with most places averaging around 10-15 years. That’s about half the lifespan you would get out of a piling put in 20-30 years ago.” To combat this, every aspect of the EcoPile has been carefully designed to increase its strength and aesthetic appeal. Essentially a PVC pipe, it has a glass fibre, hexagram-shaped webbing structure on the inside, which makes it very strong and allows cables to run inside. The outer layer of the EcoPile, or ‘capstock’, is rich in UV and IR inhibitors, which help to make sure it doesn’t fade or get brittle after decades of sun exposure. This capstock is also filled with ‘impact modifiers’, which allow the EcoPile to take a significant blow without breaking. This allows contractors to use regular wood pile driving equipment during installation – and also makes the piling very forgiving when boats bump into it. The piling is able to bend much further than wood without snapping and contains specialised ‘grooved retention rings’ on the bottom that help lock the piling into the ground. “Our tests have shown it takes more than twice as much force to uproot an EcoPile versus a standard wood pole – and ours is only half the weight!” Porter says. “Vinyl sheet piling has been around for over 40 years and hasn’t been affected at all. The oldest stuff out there might have some sun damage, but the technology to fix that problem has come a long way in the past 40 years,” Porter says. The EcoPile is the only piling on the market to come with a 25- year warranty, but it should last over a hundred years, the company says. Successes so far Several marinas have now been built from scratch using the EcoPile, or new sections have been added to existing ones. Some of these are in Pensacola, Florida, which was hit by the category 2 hurricane Sally in September last year. The hurricane wiped out most marinas in the area, but not a single EcoPile of over a thousand installed in the area was lost. “The owner of three marinas in the area told us the only thing that survived was the newest – January/February 2021 47

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