The qualities of polyethylene pipe are piquing the interest of more civil engineers of potable water systems in The United States.
The telecommunications and utility industries have long used PEX-AL-PEX pipe to protect fiber optic cables and deliver natural gas, but utilization of the material for drinking water systems remains to be trickling slowly toward acceptance in certain places.
In Michigan, L . A .-based JM Eagle’s offer to change all lead service lines (LSLs) in Flint, where toxic levels of lead leached from damaged pipes, with free PE pipe prompted not simply a study of three types of pipe materials – PE, cross-linked PE (PEX) and copper – but a lunch-and-learn session about PE pipe with engineers.
Dustin Langston, an engineer at WL Plastics Corp., which happens to be located in Fort Worth, Texas, said within a telephone interview that his presentation went within the allotted hour with no objections.
“The information was taken well; they had lots of great questions. It had been an extremely productive meeting,” he stated.
With estimated annual sales of $2.45 billion and yearly pipe sales of $340 million, respectively, JM Eagle and WL Plastics are the first- and 11th-ranked manufacturers of plastic pipe, profiles and tubing in North America, according to Plastics News’ latest ranking. Their overall PE pipe sales are down within the last year because of a 40 % drop sought after through the oil and gas gathering industry, in line with the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), a trade association operating out of Dallas. However, potable applications show big promise as Usa cities look to get the lead out of their systems and then make some $1 trillion of upgrades across the next twenty-five years.
Langston said about 15 people attended the meeting in the Flint office of Rowe Professional Services and a handful of others Skyped in. Rowe handled engineering help Flint until June 30 – the city wants to engage a staff engineer now – nevertheless the firm is going to be solicited for future work, the metropolis said within a statement.
The presentation focused entirely on high density PE pipe and installation methods. Rowe’s engineers’ main exposure to HDPE to date is utilizing it for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under rivers, Langston said, adding he got plenty of wide eyes when he mentioned cellular phone approach to pipe bursting. Couple of the attendees had been aware of the technology before.
A trenchless method for replacing buried pipelines, pipe bursting was initially found in the 1970s in the United Kingdom. The process involves digging roughly 3-foot-by-3-foot entry and exit pits through the house and street, in which the service line meets the distribution line or water main. A cone-shaped drilling head with a slightly larger diameter compared to old pipe is inserted into an opening. The front side end in the bursting head is linked to a pulling cable as well as the back end is linked to HDPE pipe fittings. Because the bursting head is pulled through, it breaks the existing pipe into pieces and simultaneously expands the diameter of the cavity to the new pipe.
That old pipe pieces just stay in the earth. Experienced crews can replace three or four service lines each day at 75 percent of the cost of cut-and-bury installation methods, Langston said.
“You take 25 percent off of the price,” he added. “You don’t need to dig up people’s lawns or obtain people’s driveways. You save money on having to replace those things and you’re not disturbing the city. In civil engineering, there’s a brand new aspect that’s rarely taken into account and that’s social interference. We always discuss cost but what isn’t measurable cost wise would be the calls and complaints to city offices about construction, noise, debris and dug-up yards. Many things are suddenly avoided using trenchless technologies.”
Livonia, Mich., used HDPE pipe from Charter Plastics Inc., which is the No. 77 ranked PPT extruder, to exchange 27,000 feet of cracking, leaking iron pipes from April through October 2008. The Titusville, Pa.-based company has estimated sales of $35 million per year.
Livonia reportedly saved $200,000 on Charter’s pipe material alone in comparison to ductile iron and then used pipe bursting to install it. Todd Zilinick, Livonia’s chief engineer, still tells his colleagues concerning the social and environmental benefits of PE pipe.
“One of your greatest great things about high density polyethylene pipe is it’s very easy to install, it’s less disruptive … and it saves trees,” Zilincik said within a May 2016 testimonial for your Alliance for PE Pipe, which is located in Tulsa, Okla., and promotes the use of HDPE pipe for municipal water systems in the United states and Canada as “the responsible infrastructure choice.”
HDPE pipe is joined by heat fusing above grade, which essentially results in a single pipeline without any leaks that could be miles long.
“It’s completely welded together,” Langston said. “It won’t leak, corrode or rust and it’s durable by using a 100-year service life. It’s also completely inert. Nothing leaches out from polyethylene pipe. If you examine all the food packaging, whether it be milk, soda, water bottles or food, the great greater part of which is PE.”
Plastics Pipe Institute PE pipe has about 10 percent from the municipal water market, as outlined by estimates.
PPI President Tony Radoszewski isn’t surprised cellular phone approaches for HDPE pipe got a lot of attention at the lunch-and-learn.
“There’s a great story for our plastic pipe – polyolefin type pipes like polyethylene – regarding trenchless installation,” he stated inside a telephone interview. “What it may do in terms of financial savings is a major deal.”
Along with pipe bursting, smaller-diameter HDPE pipe could be used to replace existing pipes with a technique called slip lining.
“You don’t burst that old pipe; you use it as a host pipe,” Radoszewski said.
Then, there’s HDD for installing new lines of pipe. A drilling head is sent down an entry pit with an angle and leveled out for a distance. It appears back up using an exit pit pulling new pipe behind it.
While telecom uses remain the only largest industry for HDD with a 24.1 percent market share, water uses are rising, increasing from 19.5 percent of HDD applications in 2015 into a projected 19.9 percent this year, according to the 18th annual Underground Construction HDD Survey released in June. Gas distribution is an additional strong HDD market with 18 percent share.
HDPE continues to be the No. 1 pipe material used for HDD using a whopping 49.9 percent market share when compared with 22.3 percent for PVC, 14.2 percent for steel pipe and 9.1 percent for ductile iron, the survey also says.
Flint looks to change approximately 5,000 LSLs and 10,000 galvanized steel lines, which corrode leaving nooks where lead can settle, with copper. Existing pipes were damaged when lead leached in the system once the supply of water was switched from Lake Huron on the caustic Flint River without adding any anti-corrosive agents.
Estimates to mend Flint’s water system using traditional copper pipe range between the city’s estimate of $55 million to $80 million and a lot more by others. Bids to replace LSLs at 500 homes that are seen as the highest risk for lead exposure started in “extremely high,” Mayor Karen Weaver said. The area was expecting the price to become about $4,000 per house. No bids were awarded in that round and after follow-up meetings the metropolis intends to go ahead with just work at 250 houses by two contractors.
“I believe the bids arrived at least one half higher at $6,000 a property,” Langston said. “Copper will be the only material they’re allowing to spec now for service lines and ductile iron for distribution lines. Not merely is copper pipe for service lines 4x the cost of polyethylene pipe, nevertheless, you have very extreme methods for getting that copper pipe in the ground and that’s cut and bury, which entails digging up yards and streets.”
A minimum of one Michigan lawmaker has publicly questioned why Flint doesn’t accept the “generous offer” from JM Eagle.
Nationwide, it will cost $1 trillion on the next twenty-five years to repair existing drinking water systems that happen to be reaching the ends with their useful lives as well as serve growing populations, in line with the American Water Works Association.
The precise makeup from the buried water pipes isn’t known. Returning to the 1870s, the rollout of various pipe materials has changed from cast iron, to cement-lined cast iron to asbestos cement then from the 1950s-60s ductile iron, PVC and PE.
Globally, the plastic pipe industry is forecast to increase at the compounded annual growth rate of 6.8 percent to 2020, in accordance with a March 2016 market report by Lucintel, a researching the market firm based in Dallas.
The HDPE pipe market in The United States experienced a sales importance of about $5.54 billion in 2015 with JM Eagle holding about 18.48 percent of sales, according to Acute Market Reports. Along with water, HDPE pipes carry wastewater, slurries, chemicals, hazardous waste and compressed gases.
Other PE pipe potable players include Performance Pipe of Plano, Texas; Dura-Line Corp. of Knoxville, Tenn.; and Pipeline Plastics LLC of Westlake, Texas. Companies rank seventh, eighth and 43rd, respectively, in Plastics News’ latest ranking.
While PE will be the No. 1 pipe materials in water systems in Europe, it can be still making inroads in the states. Langston estimates that PE pipe has 10 percent of dexqpky02 municipal industry for both water and sewer applications. PVC has the majority of the plastic pipe market share.
“We’re 10 percent nationwide but when you go to states like California we’re one half because HDPE pipe is the only material which is earthquake and ground-movement resistant,” Langston said. “A study by Cornell University performed on 16-inch pipe showed you could have 4 feet of lateral shift as well as the pipelines won’t yield. It stays intact.”
Freeze-thaw cycles in northern states like Michigan and drought conditions in Texas also result in the ground to go, making PE pipe a good option, Langston said.
“It doesn’t matter where you live in the nation, you’re going to have ground movement,” he added. “When you look at pipe failures, the biggest reason for that is bell-and-spigot separation. The pipe pulls apart. But for those who have a fused, welded system, such as polyethylene, the pipe just moves with all the ground. There are no problems.”
Florida is another big niche for PEX-AL-PEX pipe as a replacement material for corroded metal pipes, Langston said.
Elsewhere, material acceptance can seem such as a slog. There are actually mayors, council members, administrators, engineering firms and public works employees that want to get in to the switch to PE.
“We are constantly going across the country discussing PE pipe,” Langston said. “The interest is very amazing however the change process is slow.”