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 use of the material for drinking water systems remains trickling slowly toward acceptance in many places.
In Michigan, Los Angeles-based JM Eagle’s offer to switch all lead service lines (LSLs) in Flint, where toxic quantities of lead leached from damaged pipes, with free PE pipe prompted not just 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 in a telephone interview that his presentation went within the allotted hour without having objections.
“The information was taken well; that they had lots of great questions. It was a really productive meeting,” he was quoted saying.
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 America, based on Plastics News’ latest ranking. Their overall PE pipe sales are down within the last year as a result of 40 % drop popular through the oil and gas gathering industry, in line with the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), a trade association based in 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 within the next 25 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 work for Flint until June 30 – the metropolis offers to engage a staff engineer now – although the firm will be solicited for future work, the metropolis said in the statement.
The presentation focused on high density PE pipe and installation methods. Rowe’s engineers’ main experience with HDPE to date is utilizing it for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under rivers, Langston said, adding he got a great deal of wide eyes when he talked about the installation way of pipe bursting. Several attendees had heard of the technology before.
A trenchless method for replacing buried pipelines, pipe bursting was used in the 1970s in the United Kingdom. The procedure involves digging roughly 3-foot-by-3-foot entry and exit pits by the house and street, where service line meets the distribution line or water main. A cone-shaped drilling head having a slightly larger diameter in comparison to the old pipe is inserted into an opening. The leading end in the bursting head is connected to a pulling cable along with the back end is connected to HDPE pipe fittings. As the bursting head is pulled through, it breaks existing pipe into pieces and simultaneously expands the diameter of the cavity for the new pipe.
The previous pipe pieces just stay in the ground. Experienced crews can replace 3 to 4 service lines each day at 75 percent of the cost of cut-and-bury installation methods, Langston said.
“You take 25 % off of the price,” he added. “You don’t have to dig up people’s lawns or obtain people’s driveways. You save on being forced to replace those activities and you’re not disturbing the community. In civil engineering, there’s a fresh aspect that’s rarely accounted for and that’s social interference. We always talk about cost but what isn’t measurable cost wise are the calls and complaints to city offices about construction, noise, debris and dug-up yards. Several 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 switch 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 compared to ductile iron and after that 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 from the greatest benefits associated with high density polyethylene pipe is it’s simple to install, it’s less disruptive … plus it saves trees,” Zilincik said in the May 2016 testimonial to the Alliance for PE Pipe, that is based in Tulsa, Okla., and promotes the usage of HDPE pipe for municipal water systems inside the Usa and Canada as “the responsible infrastructure choice.”
HDPE pipe is joined by heat fusing above grade, which essentially generates a single pipeline clear of 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 away from polyethylene pipe. When you have a look at each of the food packaging, be it milk, soda, water bottles or food, the great greater part of that is PE.”
Plastics Pipe Institute PE pipe has about 10 percent from the municipal water market, in accordance with estimates.
PPI President Tony Radoszewski isn’t surprised the installation procedures for HDPE pipe got a great deal of attention with the lunch-and-learn.
“There’s a great story for our plastic pipe – polyolefin type pipes like polyethylene – when it comes to trenchless installation,” he explained inside a telephone interview. “What it may do in terms of saving money is a huge deal.”
As well as pipe bursting, smaller-diameter HDPE pipe could be used to replace existing pipes with a technique called slip lining.
“You don’t burst the existing pipe; you make use of it as being 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 support using 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 rising, increasing from 19.5 percent of HDD applications in 2015 to your projected 19.9 percent this current year, in line with the 18th annual Underground Construction HDD Survey released in June. Gas distribution is yet another strong HDD market with 18 percent share.
HDPE is still the No. 1 pipe materials used for HDD having a whopping 49.9 percent market share in comparison to 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 an estimated 5,000 LSLs and 10,000 galvanized steel lines, which corrode and leave nooks where lead can settle, with copper. The existing pipes were damaged when lead leached in the system right after the method to obtain water was switched from Lake Huron to the caustic Flint River without the addition of any anti-corrosive agents.
Estimates to fix Flint’s water system using traditional copper pipe vary from the city’s estimate of $55 million to $80 million and much more by others. Bids to change LSLs at 500 homes that are considered the highest risk for lead exposure came in “extremely high,” Mayor Karen Weaver said. The town was expecting the price to become about $4,000 per house. No bids were awarded because round and after follow-up meetings the area offers to go on with work on 250 houses by two contractors.
“I believe the bids arrived in at least 50 % higher at $6,000 a residence,” Langston said. “Copper may be 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 4 times the fee for polyethylene pipe, however you have very extreme techniques for getting that copper pipe in the ground 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 can cost $1 trillion across the next twenty five years to fix existing drinking water systems that happen to be reaching the ends with their useful lives as well as serve growing populations, based on the American Water Works Association.
The exact makeup in the buried water pipes isn’t known. Returning to the 1870s, the rollout of varied pipe materials has evolved from cast iron, to cement-lined cast iron to asbestos cement then within the 1950s-60s ductile iron, PVC and PE.
Globally, the plastic pipe market is forecast to increase with a compounded annual growth rate of 6.8 percent to 2020, as outlined by a March 2016 market report by Lucintel, a market research firm situated in Dallas.
The HDPE pipe market in North America 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. As well as water to drink, 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. The businesses rank seventh, eighth and 43rd, respectively, in Plastics News’ latest ranking.
While PE is definitely the No. 1 pipe materials used in water systems in Europe, it can be still making inroads in the usa. Langston estimates that PE pipe has 10 percent of dexqpky02 municipal marketplace for both water and sewer applications. PVC has the majority of the plastic pipe market share.
“We’re 10 % 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 might have 4 feet of lateral shift along with the pipelines won’t yield. It stays intact.”
Freeze-thaw cycles in northern states like Michigan and drought conditions in Texas also cause the ground to maneuver, making PE pipe an excellent choice, Langston said.
“It doesn’t matter where you reside in america, you’re gonna have ground movement,” he added. “When you look at pipe failures, the key reason for that is bell-and-spigot separation. The pipe pulls apart. But when you have a fused, welded system, for example polyethylene, the pipe just moves using the ground. You will find no problems.”
Florida is yet another big niche for PEX-AL-PEX pipe as an alternative material for corroded metal pipes, Langston said.
Elsewhere, material acceptance can seem to be just like a slog. There are mayors, council members, administrators, engineering firms and public works employees which need to buy to the alteration to PE.
“We are constantly going nationwide talking about PE pipe,” Langston said. “The interest is very amazing but the change process is slow.”