PE Below Ground Barrier Pipes Score On Sustainability

Apr 09, 2009

Barrier pipes' ability to deliver clean, untainted drinking water and offer relatively high sustainability is well suited to growing reclamation technologies that treat contamination on-site.

The latest market analysis predicts that excavation and removal will remain the most common approach to contaminated land remediation for the next five years. However, the market for other remediation methods is expected to grow by 37% over the same period, marking the rise of techniques that are more environmentally responsible than ‘dig and dump’.

A landfill tax for contaminated land waste, if imposed, could swing the balance of costs away from removal and in favour of on-site remediation. Contractors will then find it easier to promote the environmental advantages of containment techniques, which, by treating land in situ, cut out transportation costs and prepare the area for development more quickly than soil removal.

Any residual risk of tainting to drinking water supplies can be avoided in treated (or untreated) land by installing protected water pipes. The two systems dominating this market are (a) polyethylene barrier pipe, such as the GPS PE Pipe Systems' Protecta-Line, which incorporates an impermeable aluminium barrier layer within the polyethylene, and (b) wrapped metal pipes. The only UK industry standard for potable water pipe systems in contaminated land is WIS 4-32-19, which defines performance characteristics and speci contaminant protection limits for the polyethylene barrier pipe and compatible fittings. The GPS Protecta-Line system gives the peace of mind of complying with this standard.

Although PE barrier pipes were previously only available in sizes up to 180mm, the Protecta-Line range now extends to 355mm, adding choice where previously there was on wrapped metallic pipe. In terms of energy efficiency, carbon footprint and the whole-life costs of owning a pipe system, PE clearly offers the greater advantages.

Even considering the fossil fuel used as raw material, PE systems are considerably less demanding of energy and resources than metallic equivalents. Being light in weight and available coiled or straight, PE pipes are easy to transport and install. In many instances too, trenchless installation technologies, such as slip lining, can be used to reduce disruption to traffic and infrastructure.

Freedom from corrosion ensures that hydraulic characteristics are superb and will remain so, minimising water losses and pumping costs over the lifetime of the system. At the end of its useful service life a PE barrier pipe system can be recycled using approximately a third of the energy required to rework metal pipes.

Comparative calculations show that using a polyethylene pipe system reduces typical installed costs by as much as 70% and whole life costs by at least 45%. When these benefits are considered alongside the advantages of containment techniques over dig and dump, the combination weighs heavily in favour of adopting a more sustainable approach to brownfield development.

GPS PE Pipe Systems
Oxana Latypova
PH.: +44 (0) 1480 442623
FAX: +44 (0) 1480 458829

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