Uniquely Alaskan: A Collection Of Individuals

TRADE LINE - A Publication of World Trade Center Alaska; Summer 1998

Another member of World Trade Center Alaska making inroads into the world market with their products is Erwin L. (Erv) Long, P.E., President of Arctic Foundations, Inc.  Arctic Foundations does exactly what their name indicates; they build specialty foundation components for structures in Arctic environments.  The structures could be buildings, bridges, and docks or pipeline supports.  Each design is different because, across the Arctic, conditions change.  Arctic Foundations is looking at Russia as a market because “they have more permafrost than we do in Alaska but still, the problems are very similar.”

For on-grade buildings, Arctic Foundations builds thermosyphons on which the structures rest.  A layer of insulation is placed between the heat of the structure and the permafrost lenses.  However, because there will be heat infiltration in the gravel pad no mater how well it is insulated and the foundation is isolated from winters cold, Arctic Foundations places thermosyphons (charged with a passive refrigerant) that allow heat from the ground to rise to the top of the pipes and dissipate.  Thermosyphons may vary between one and twenty-four inches in diameter.

Work is sometimes unusual.  At the present time Arctic Foundations is assisting in the stabilization of a bridge in Dul’durga in the Agaburat Province near Mongolia.  Part of the bridge has been pushed up 5 feet by frost heaves while an adjoining section of the bridge has dropped 2 feet from thaw settlement.  Some winters the bridge is not usable.  Arctic Foundations will supply thermosyphons to stabilize the foundation piers and supervise their placement.

“Russia is an expanding market,” Long noted, “but it is not expanding fast.  It still has many hurdles to leap.  There is work, but it takes a different type of mentality to do business there.  Electricity is not available everywhere and construction equipment is old and often poorly adapted to the problems.  But there is opportunity.”

by Steven Levi