The qualities of polyethylene pipe are piquing the interest more civil engineers of potable water systems in The United States.
The telecommunications and utility industries have long used HDPE pipe fittings to safeguard fiber optic cables and deliver gas, but use of the material for drinking water systems continues to be trickling slowly toward acceptance in some places.
In Michigan, La-based JM Eagle’s offer to exchange all lead service lines (LSLs) in Flint, where toxic quantities 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 can be situated in Fort Worth, Texas, said in the telephone interview that his presentation went on the allotted hour without any objections.
“The information was taken well; they had a lot of great questions. It had been a really productive meeting,” he explained.
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 forty percent drop in demand from the oil and gas gathering industry, according to the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), a trade association situated in Dallas. However, potable applications show big promise as U.S. cities look to get the lead from their systems making some $1 trillion of upgrades on the next twenty-five years.
Langston said about 15 people attended the meeting in the Flint office of Rowe Professional Services and a few others Skyped in. Rowe handled engineering benefit Flint until June 30 – the area wants to employ a staff engineer now – nevertheless the firm will likely be solicited for future work, the area said in a statement.
The presentation focused entirely on high density PE pipe and installation methods. Rowe’s engineers’ main experience with HDPE up to now is using it for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under rivers, Langston said, adding he got plenty of wide eyes as he discussed cellular phone means of pipe bursting. Few of the attendees had heard of the technology before.
A trenchless method for replacing buried pipelines, pipe bursting was first used in the 1970s in england. The procedure involves digging roughly 3-foot-by-3-foot entry and exit pits by the house and street, in which the service line meets the distribution line or water main. A cone-shaped drilling head using a slightly larger diameter compared to old pipe is inserted into an opening. The front side end of your bursting head is linked to a pulling cable and the back end is associated with HDPE pipe fittings. Since the bursting head is pulled through, it breaks the present pipe into pieces and simultaneously expands the diameter from the cavity for the new pipe.
The existing pipe pieces just stay in the ground. Experienced crews can replace three to four service lines each day at 75 percent of the fee for cut-and-bury installation methods, Langston said.
“You take 25 percent off the price,” he added. “You don’t need to dig up people’s lawns or obtain people’s driveways. You save on needing to replace those activities and you’re not disturbing the community. In civil engineering, there’s a whole new aspect that’s rarely included and that’s social interference. We always talk about 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. Lots of 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 with ductile iron and then used pipe bursting to put in it. Todd Zilinick, Livonia’s chief engineer, still tells his colleagues in regards to the social and environmental advantages of PE pipe.
“One from the greatest advantages of high density polyethylene pipe is it’s an easy task to install, it’s less disruptive … and yes it saves trees,” Zilincik said within a May 2016 testimonial for the Alliance for PE Pipe, that is situated in Tulsa, Okla., and promotes the application of HDPE pipe for municipal water systems in the Usa and Canada as “the responsible infrastructure choice.”
HDPE pipe is joined by heat fusing above grade, which essentially creates a single pipeline without any leaks which can 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. When you look at all of the food packaging, whether it be milk, soda, water bottles or food, the fantastic largest part of that is certainly PE.”
Plastics Pipe Institute PE pipe has about 10 % in the municipal water market, according to estimates.
PPI President Tony Radoszewski isn’t surprised cellular phone procedures for HDPE pipe got a great deal of attention on the lunch-and-learn.
“There’s a great story for our plastic pipe – polyolefin type pipes like polyethylene – regarding trenchless installation,” he was quoted saying in a telephone interview. “What it may do in terms of financial savings is an important deal.”
Together with pipe bursting, smaller-diameter HDPE pipe could be used to replace existing pipes using 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 brand-new lines of pipe. A drilling head is sent down an entry pit at an angle and leveled out for a distance. It comes down support with an exit pit pulling new pipe behind it.
While telecom uses remain the single largest marketplace for HDD with a 24.1 percent market share, water uses are on the rise, increasing from 19.5 percent of HDD applications in 2015 to a projected 19.9 percent this season, in accordance with the 18th annual Underground Construction HDD Survey released in June. Gas distribution can be another strong HDD market with 18 percent share.
HDPE continues to be the No. 1 pipe material used for HDD with 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 is looking to exchange approximately 5,000 LSLs and ten thousand galvanized steel lines, which corrode by leaving nooks where lead can settle, with copper. Existing pipes were damaged when lead leached to the system once the way to obtain water to drink was switched from Lake Huron on the caustic Flint River without incorporating any anti-corrosive agents.
Estimates to fix Flint’s water system using traditional copper pipe range between the city’s estimate of $55 million to $80 million plus more by others. Bids to switch LSLs at 500 homes that are seen as the highest risk for lead exposure arrived in “extremely high,” Mayor Karen Weaver said. The city was expecting the charge to get about $4,000 per house. No bids were awarded in this round and after follow-up meetings the city offers to proceed with just work at 250 houses by two contractors.
“I believe the bids started in no less than 50 percent higher at $6,000 a residence,” Langston said. “Copper is definitely the only material they’re allowing to spec now for service lines and ductile iron for distribution lines. Not just is copper pipe for service lines 4x the fee for polyethylene pipe, but you have very extreme techniques for getting that copper pipe in the earth and that’s cut and bury, which entails digging up yards and streets.”
One or more Michigan lawmaker has publicly questioned why Flint doesn’t accept the “generous offer” from JM Eagle.
Nationwide, it is going to cost $1 trillion on the next 25 years to fix existing drinking water systems which can be reaching the ends in their useful lives as well as to serve growing populations, according to the American Water Works Association.
The precise makeup of the buried water pipes isn’t known. Going back to the 1870s, the rollout of varied pipe materials has changed from cast iron, to cement-lined cast iron to asbestos cement then inside the 1950s-60s ductile iron, PVC and PE.
Globally, the plastic pipe industry is forecast to boost in a compounded annual growth rate of 6.8 percent to 2020, based on a March 2016 market report by Lucintel, a consumer research firm based in Dallas.
The HDPE pipe market in The United States had a sales worth of about $5.54 billion in 2015 with JM Eagle holding about 18.48 percent of sales, in accordance with Acute Market Reports. Together with drinking 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 material used in water systems in Europe, it is actually still making inroads in the United States. Langston estimates that PE pipe has 10 percent of dexqpky02 municipal industry for both water and sewer applications. PVC has most of the plastic pipe market share.
“We’re 10 percent nationwide but when you go to states like California we’re 50 % because HDPE pipe is definitely the only material that is certainly earthquake and ground-movement resistant,” Langston said. “A study by Cornell University performed on 16-inch pipe showed you can have 4 feet of lateral shift and also the pipelines won’t yield. It stays intact.”
Freeze-thaw cycles in northern states like Michigan and drought conditions in Texas also increase the risk for ground to go, making PE pipe a great choice, Langston said.
“It doesn’t matter where you reside in the nation, you’re going to have ground movement,” he added. “When you gaze at pipe failures, the biggest reason for your is bell-and-spigot separation. The pipe pulls apart. But when you have a fused, welded system, such as polyethylene, the pipe just moves together with the ground. There are no problems.”
Florida can be another big niche for PEX-AL-PEX pipe as a substitute material for corroded metal pipes, Langston said.
Elsewhere, material acceptance can seem to be just like a slog. You will find mayors, council members, administrators, engineering firms and public works employees that need to get in the alteration to PE.
“We are constantly going throughout the country referring to PE pipe,” Langston said. “The interest is incredibly amazing however the change process is slow.”