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How do you take all the best traits of a steel pipe and make it lighter and more flexible, while also introducing resistance to corrosion, weathering, and cracking? The answer is polyethylene (PE), a type of plastic that is rugged, flexible, and durable. And with a 100-year service life, PE pipes are among the longest lasting, most durable on the market.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of switching to PE pipes is its cost-effectiveness. PE pipes are cheaper to manufacture, transport, and install, all without compromising the design requirements of a project. The material’s advantages have cemented the role of PE pipes in modern construction, a role that won’t be displaced anytime soon.
Polyethylene: durability across the board
Products made of high-grade polyethylene can easily remain in service for 100 years, making it one of the most durable human-made materials on the planet. While its durability alone is laudable, PE also delivers a range of unique properties that extend its endurance. For example, these pipes are highly resistant to electrochemical-based corrosion, making it an outstanding material to transport corrosive materials or to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
Another PE property that works to enhance pipe durability is its flexibility and ductility—granting pipes outstanding resistance to fatigue. This is in stark contrast to other plastic pipes that are designed to withstand static pressures but do not perform as well under dynamic conditions and the surge events associated with normal system operation.
Finally, PE pipes are extremely smooth and highly resistant to fouling or biological buildup that could jeopardize flow characteristics within the pipe over the service life of the system
Adaptability promotes cost effectiveness without ignoring the environment
For large-scale projects requiring many interconnecting segments, PE pipes offer multiple options. These pipes can be joined together using heat fusion or various mechanical means thus assuring the system designer of connectivity and compatibility with existing system appurtenances. Fusion joints are especially beneficial, because pipes are brought together using heat to form a permanent, monolithic, and leak-free system. These leak-free systems are a significant benefit. For example, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that we lose about 6 billion gallons of drinking water per day in the United States, much through deteriorating joints in older pipe systems (3).
The flexibility of PE pipes also enables its installation via HDD. HDD allows you to strategically bore pipes under or around otherwise impassable areas like rivers or various structures. The HDD technology installs a durable, high performance PE pipe system while avoiding extensive excavation that can prove highly disruptive or extremely expensive.
PE pipes lead the way
The history of PE piping has been marked by an evolution in the technical performance of the stress-rated resins used to make these pipes. Even today, new polyethylene resin types are being introduced and applied in interesting ways. Take for instance, the new AGRULINE range of pipes and fittings products that is manufactured exclusively from PE 100-RC polyethylene materials. These innovative materials are the most recent technical development in polyethylene pipe grades and offer the end user exceptional resistance to slow crack growth and/or fatigue over the service life of the piping system. Under lab conditions, PE 100-RC versions outperformed standard PE 100 electro-socket fittings across the board—with up to 10 times the service life (4).
- Material Properties: Second Edition Handbook of PE Pipe | HDPE Handbook. Accessed July 26, 2017. http://plasticpipe.org/publications/pe-handbook.html.
- “Record breaking Horizontal Directional Drilling – AGRU.” Accessed July 26, 2017. http://www.agru.at/en/solutions/agruline/record-breaking-horizontal-directional-drilling/.
- “Drinking Water.” ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. Accessed July 31, 2017. https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/cat-item/drinking-water/.
- “World first in PE 100-RC.” AGRU Press Release. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.agru.at/?id=502.