According to Andy Radford, the Composites Cluster MD, South Africa has vast dolorite reserves, from which global-standard basalt can be manufactured. Basalt fiber mined from dolerite in the poorest regions of the Eastern Cape could be an economic game changer for the region. Further processed, basalt products such as reinforced bars can be shipped to Europe through France.
South Africa has a legacy based on iron, steel and other metals, says Andy Radford. However, composites can provide new industrial and economic competitive advantages for the local economy. Creating a composites corridor in Port Elizabeth, where composite applications will replace metal and cement, the Composites Cluster will showcase these advantages.
From manhole covers, streetpoles and railings, to motorised drones, composites are the answer to several age-old problems, while also presenting new opportunities. In Africa, composites can be manufactured anywhere. You don’t even need electricity. In fact, rather than using energy, resin-based thermoset manufacturing is exothermic – it gives off heat.
The Composites Cluster is seeking new partners with a view to further development. They are looking to a greater collaboration with French companies, since France is a global leader in composites within aviation and boat-building.