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Superseded: See the Patented and Proprietary Products Construction Program Guide

Subject: Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) - Availability of Domestic Source of Steel Fiber Reinforcement and Proprietary Product Concerns Date: February 12, 2014
From: /s/
Walter C. Waidelich
Associate Administrator,
Office of Infrastructure (HIF-1)
Reply To: HIPA-30
To: Directors of Field Services
Division Administrators

Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) is a high strength, ductile material formulated by combining Portland cement, silica fume, fine silica sand, a high range water reducer, water, and steel fibers. FHWA research completed by the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center has demonstrated that UHPC can be very beneficial to the State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) - particularly for use in connections between prefabricated bridge elements.

The FHWA encourages the use of this material as a means to enhance bridge durability and long-term performance, expedite the on-site construction process, improve safety during construction, and to help shorten overall project delivery. Additional information on UHPC and its specific components may be found at the following link: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/resources/uhpc.cfm.

Availability of Domestic Source - Steel Fiber Reinforcement

Use of UHPC in the United States has been limited due to the lack of domestic production capacity of the steel fiber reinforcement that is used in the UHPC mix. In the past, use of UHPC required that the steel fiber reinforcement be obtained from non-domestic sources; thus, use of this material on Federal-aid highway construction projects required the contracting agency to either demonstrate that the minimal use provisions of 23 CFR 635.410(b)(4) were satisfied, or request that the FHWA issue a project waiver to its Buy America requirements.

Recently, a domestic supplier that can produce the steel fibers to meet the UHPC specifications in accordance with the Buy America requirements has been identified. Bekaert Corporation's production facility located in Rome, GA has assembled a production line and has secured the domestic materials necessary to produce the steel fiber reinforcement specific for UHPC use. The FHWA understands that this material is commercially available to all potential purchasers.

Proprietary Product Concerns

The FHWA Division office in each state is ultimately responsible for determining if a contracting agency's plans and specifications provide for adequate competition in the selection of materials, products, and processes for Federal-aid highway construction projects. In accordance with the FHWA Division/State DOT stewardship-oversight agreement, the Division office must ensure that its State DOT effectively assumes FHWA authority regarding 23 CFR 635.411.

To date, there are a number of proprietary UHPC products on the global market.  In the United States, a familiar UHPC product produced by Lafarge Corporation is provided under the trade name Ductal®. Other manufacturers have developed proprietary UHPC products under the trade names of BCV®, BSI®, CRC®, and Densit®. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed and is licensing Cor-Tuf®. In addition, some State DOTs are working with academia to develop non-proprietary mix designs that meet the performance requirements similar to those provided by UHPC. The Steel fiber reinforcement component of any UHPC used on a Federal-aid highway construction project must conform to the Buy America requirements of 23 CFR 635.410.

An acceptable contract would include specification requirements that would allow contractors the opportunity to select from a number of acceptable products - whether the products themselves are proprietary or nonproprietary. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has developed a performance-based specification and a list of implementation notes that may be useful to other agencies interested in pursuing the use of UHPC. As an example, reference Attachments A and B are included as part of this memorandum.

Under 23 CFR 635.411, the FHWA shall not participate in the costs of a patented or proprietary product for a Federal-aid highway construction project unless one of the following conditions is met:

  1. The item is purchased or obtained through competitive bidding with equally suitable unpatented items
  2. The State DOT certifies either that the specified item is:
    1. Essential for synchronization with existing facilities; or
    2. A unique product with no equally suitable alternate.
  3. The item is used for research or for a distinctive type of construction on relatively short sections of road for experimental purposes.
  4. If there are other equally acceptable materials or products available, the State DOT may require a specific material or product when the Division Administrator approves of its use as being in the public interest.

Policy, guidance, and additional information may be found at the FHWA's Patented and Proprietary Products Web Page at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/cqit/propriet.cfm.

If you have any technical questions regarding UHPC, please contact Ben Graybeal at Benjamin.Graybeal@dot.gov or (202) 493-3122; for patented and proprietary product questions, please contact Mr. John E. Huyer at John.Huyer@dot.gov or (651) 291-6111.

Associate Administrator, Federal Lands Highway
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers

Updated: 10/09/2019
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