The qualities of polyethylene pipe are piquing the interest of more civil engineers of potable water systems in America.

The telecommunications and utility industries have long used HDPE pipe fittings to shield fiber optic cables and deliver gas, but utilization of the material for h2o systems remains trickling slowly toward acceptance in many places.

In Michigan, La-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., that is situated 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; they had lots of great questions. It had been an incredibly 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 initial- and 11th-ranked manufacturers of plastic pipe, profiles and tubing in The United States, based on Plastics News’ latest ranking. Their overall PE pipe sales are down in the last year due to a 40 percent drop popular from the oil and gas gathering industry, in accordance with the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), a trade association located in Dallas. However, potable applications show big promise as Usa cities look to obtain the lead out of their systems making some $1 trillion of upgrades across the next 25 years.

Langston said about 15 people attended the meeting at the Flint office of Rowe Professional Services and a handful of others Skyped in. Rowe handled engineering work for Flint until June 30 – the area wants to work with a staff engineer now – nevertheless the firm will probably be solicited for future work, the town said within a statement.

The presentation focused on high density PE pipe and installation methods. Rowe’s engineers’ main knowledge of HDPE so far is employing it for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under rivers, Langston said, adding he got lots of wide eyes as he discussed cellular phone approach to pipe bursting. Couple of the attendees had read about the technology before.

A trenchless technique for replacing buried pipelines, pipe bursting was utilized in the 1970s in england. This process involves digging roughly 3-foot-by-3-foot entry and exit pits through the house and street, the location where the service line meets the distribution line or water main. A cone-shaped drilling head by using a slightly larger diameter compared to the old pipe is inserted into an opening. The leading end of the bursting head is mounted on a pulling cable and 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 in the cavity to the new pipe.

The old pipe pieces just stay in the ground. Experienced crews can replace three to four service lines each day at 75 percent of the price of cut-and-bury installation methods, Langston said.

“You take 25 percent off the price,” he added. “You don’t ought to dig up people’s lawns or remove people’s driveways. You save on being forced to replace those things and you’re not disturbing the city. In civil engineering, there’s a fresh aspect that’s rarely made up and that’s social interference. We always talk about cost but what isn’t measurable cost wise are definitely 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., 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 annually.

Livonia reportedly saved $200,000 on Charter’s pipe material alone when compared with ductile iron then used pipe bursting to set up it. Todd Zilinick, Livonia’s chief engineer, still tells his colleagues in regards to the social and environmental great things about PE pipe.

“One from the greatest benefits of high density polyethylene pipe is it’s an easy task to install, it’s less disruptive … and it saves trees,” Zilincik said in a May 2016 testimonial to the Alliance for PE Pipe, that is based in Tulsa, Okla., and promotes using HDPE pipe for municipal water systems inside the U.S. and Canada as “the responsible infrastructure choice.”

HDPE pipe is joined by heat fusing above grade, which essentially generates a single pipeline without any leaks that may be miles long.

“It’s completely welded together,” Langston said. “It won’t leak, corrode or rust and it’s durable using a 100-year service life. It’s also completely inert. Nothing leaches out of polyethylene pipe. Should you take a look at all the food packaging, whether it be milk, soda, water bottles or food, the excellent largest part of that is certainly 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 techniques for HDPE pipe got lots of attention in the lunch-and-learn.

“There’s an incredible story for your plastic pipe – polyolefin type pipes like polyethylene – with regards to trenchless installation,” he stated within a telephone interview. “What it could do with regards to saving money is an important 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 the old pipe; you use it as a 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 in an angle and leveled out for a distance. It comes backup with an exit pit pulling new pipe behind it.

While telecom uses remain the one 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 your projected 19.9 percent this year, 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 remains the No. 1 pipe material used for HDD by using a whopping 49.9 percent market share compared to 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 switch approximately 5,000 LSLs and 10,000 galvanized steel lines, which corrode and leave nooks where lead can settle, with copper. The present pipes were damaged when lead leached into the system following the supply of drinking water was switched from Lake Huron for the caustic Flint River without adding any anti-corrosive agents.

Estimates to mend Flint’s water system using traditional copper pipe vary from the city’s estimate of $55 million to $80 million plus more by others. Bids to exchange LSLs at 500 homes that are seen as the highest risk for lead exposure arrived in “extremely high,” Mayor Karen Weaver said. The town was expecting the cost to get about $4,000 per house. No bids were awarded because round and after follow-up meetings the city intends to just do it with just work at 250 houses by two contractors.

“I believe the bids came in at least 50 percent higher at $6,000 a residence,” Langston said. “Copper is the only material they’re allowing to spec now for service lines and ductile iron for distribution lines. Not simply is copper pipe for service lines 4 times 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.”

A minumum of one Michigan lawmaker has publicly questioned why Flint doesn’t accept the “generous offer” from JM Eagle.

Nationwide, it will cost $1 trillion across the next twenty five years to correct existing water to drink systems which are reaching the ends of their useful lives and to serve growing populations, based on the American Water Works Association.

The precise 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 industry is forecast to boost at a compounded annual growth rate of 6.8 percent to 2020, as outlined by a March 2016 market report by Lucintel, a researching the market firm located in Dallas.

The HDPE pipe market in America enjoyed 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. In addition to 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. Companies rank seventh, eighth and 43rd, respectively, in Plastics News’ latest ranking.

While PE may be the No. 1 pipe materials in water systems in Europe, it is still making inroads in the states. Langston estimates that PE pipe has 10 % of dexqpkyy02 municipal industry for both water and sewer applications. PVC has a lot of the plastic pipe market share.

“We’re 10 % nationwide but when you visit states like California we’re fifty percent because HDPE pipe is the only material that is 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 advance, making PE pipe an excellent choice, Langston said.

“It doesn’t matter where you live in america, you’re likely to have ground movement,” he added. “When you appear at pipe failures, the key reason for that is bell-and-spigot separation. The pipe pulls apart. But in case you have a fused, welded system, including 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 substitute material for corroded metal pipes, Langston said.

Elsewhere, material acceptance can feel such as a slog. There are mayors, council members, administrators, engineering firms and public works employees that need to get in the switch to PE.

“We are constantly going nationwide discussing PE pipe,” Langston said. “The interest is exceedingly amazing although the change process is slow.”