Promoting Innovation in Manufacturing

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Existing underground pipe infrastructure is old and rapidly deteriorating in cities around the World. The need to undertake repairs is becoming increasingly urgent. The London catchment area alone loses 890 million litres of water every day. In Italy more than 8 billion cubic meters of drinkable water are pumped in the aqueduct network, of which 2.6 billion (representing the 30% of overall quantity) are wasted through leaks.

The poor management of water pipelines added to the lack of revenues due to illicit nooses, cause a loss in Italy of more than 220 million euro per year. Over the next 60 years just in Italy more than 171.866 Km of water infrastructures will need to be repaired, possibly with relining and rehabilitation technologies.

The renewal and substitution of pipe infrastructure through traditional and well known methods is expansive, time consuming and disruptive. In addition to this, tight margins, large liabilities and rising insurance costs are putting pressure on SMEs working in the pipe sector, further delaying the undertaking of remedial works.

Compounding these problems, increasingly stringent European legislation on drinking water quality is creating significant demand for pipe rehabilitation programs to be undertaken across the whole of Europe.

Project Objectives

The overall objective is to design and develop a novel trenchless pipe relining solution for:

  • renovation of underground non-pressure drainage and sewerage networks
  • renovation of underground drainage and sewerage networks under pressure
  • renovation of underground water supply networks
  • renovation of underground gas supply networks
  • renovation of industrial pipelines

More specifically, the technology will deliver the following benefits:

  • Trenchless technology with improved safety
  • Ability to reline longer runs of pipe
  • Less labour intensive resulting in lower labour costs, less disruption and faster repairs
  • Recycled materials can be used
  • Reduced costs via faster repairs
  • Suitable for wide range of market sectors
  • Ability to cope with pipes with surface defects, different shapes and irregular diameters and forms
  • Wide variety of pipe diameters can be relined

To achieve the overall objective of the project, the following scientific and technical objectives will be addressed:
The scientific objectives are as follows:

  • Enhanced scientific knowledge of thermoplastics for the liner
  • Enhanced understanding through experimental analysis of textile solutions
  • Enhance understanding of polymer heating and consolidation process
  • Enhanced understanding of fabrics development and consolidation requirements

The technical objectives are as follows:

  • Development of head, consolidation, monitoring and umbilical systems
  • Validate mechanical properties for the consolidated liner
  • Integration of components and fabrics to produce a prototype demonstration system

The EZ – Lining System has been developed as an answer to this dramatic situation, addressing the ‘key’ issues in pipe relining, and will provide a real answer to many of the concerns that affect all current pipe lining products/systems worldwide.

By utilising state of the art technology the EZ- Lining System offers both in its liner and in its installation system, a novel approach that provides both a very strong liner with no harmful resins, is quick to install and does not waste any of the precious resources they are designed to protect.

Results in Brief

The EZ-LINE system would fit inside any pipe, employing a novel consolidating head (labelled PIG) of variable width. PIG would heat the plastic so it could form a flexible tube and then immediately cool it with air to maintain the tubular shape. The system would be safe and robust, less labour-intensive, suitable for pipes with significant defects, irregular diameters and different shape and able to reline longer runs of pipe.

EZ-LINE aimed to perform finite element analysis modelling of the composite liner construction, so as to aid optimisation. Other aims were to develop a manufacturing concept, manufacture a prototype and design a modular consolidation head. Researchers successfully characterised selected candidate materials for the plastic liner and the textile reinforcement that have been successfully trialled in near real life conditions. The modular consolidation head has performed better than expected giving a smoother, faster relining process.

The project’s legacy will be a system for re-lining underground pipes up to 15 cm in diameter and capable of adaptation to larger diameters. The system will serve both residential and municipal markets, ensuring continuing function of Europe’s pipe networks. This innovative relining method could also be further developed to serve in the oil and gas sectors.