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Pipeline technology put to the ultimate test

A local pipe manufacturer has put their technology to the test and the results show that a seventeen year old pipeline with their technology, has not suffered any ageing of mechanical properties over its service period.

Fiberpipe, a leading manufacturer and supplier of GRP Composite pipes and fittings in South Africa, has recently undertaken a pipe age analysis on their FLOWTITE™ technology that was installed seventeen years ago, for the Leeuwkop project, in the Free State Province.

Project background

In 1998 Vectus and Flowtite Botswana amalgamated to form the company Flowtite Vectus. The Leeuwkop project was one of the first projects taken on by the new joint venture company. The pipeline was for a main water supply for the client Bloem Water. The entity was established as a Water Board in 1991, with the mandate to provide water services to the southern and central areas of the Free State. Bloem Water and their consulting engineers at that stage conducted a thorough investigation on different pipe materials and life cycle costs. The GRP composite, FLOWTITE™ technology, was the obvious choice due to its advantages.

Jan Kruger, who has been involved in the industry since the inception of GRP pipes in South Africa was the sales person for the technology at that time. “The original specifications of the Leeuwkop pipeline were 4353 / 4820 / 3920m, a total of 13 093m of DN 700mm pipes. The working pressure class was at 10 / 12 / 16 bar respectively and the stiffness at 5000 N/m²” says Kruger.

Mechanical testing

In 2014, various mechanical tests were performed on the pipeline and the results were compared to the original design values, in order to determine the aging of mechanical properties over a 17 year period. A SANAS accredited independent third party was present when the mechanical testing was done on the product. SANAS was present and also certified the results as correct.

During a routine maintenance, the opportunity was taken to remove a section of the original line in order to conduct tests. The tests undertaken were done in order to verify the mechanical properties of a section of the Flowtite DN700 PN10 SN5000 pipe, after its 17 year service period, and to report on whether there was any degradation of the internal or external chemical barrier.

Gavin Engelsman, Fiberpipe’s Technology Manager explains that the following tests were conducted on the product: “A stiffness test, axial tensile strength tests, hoop tensile strength tests, loss of ignition (burn-off) tests, wall thickness measurement and a barcol hardness test.

The following table is a percentage comparison of the 17 year old pipe value relative to the original design pipe value:

Design Criteria Flowtite Design Spec Actual Test Results 2014 17 year old achieved value relative to the original design requirement
Stiffness N/m2 5000 6078 21.56% above design
Axial Design N/mm 320.8 342.1 6.64% above design
Hoop Tensile Design N/mm 1842.8 2265 22.88% above design
Barcol hardness 35 minimum 53 &51 % over

Mention that the smoothness have not changed over the 17 years which will result in a significant saving in pumping cost. If possible a picture of old pipe compared to new pipe????

The test results

Engelsman says “it is evident from the results that the sampled GRP Composite FLOWTITE pipe has not suffered any ageing of the mechanical properties over the 17 year time period and the mechanical properties remain in excess of Flowtite’s original design requirements .

In addition there is no evidence of internal or external corrosion, abrasion, leaching of the resin or chemical / product ingress, which is proof that the GRP composite material was indeed the right choice when selecting the original pipeline material of choice.

The GRP composite, FLOWTITE™ piping is compliant with both the international standard AWWA C950 and SANS 1748 Part 1 our local South African standard”.

It can be concluded that Fiberpipe’s Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester Flowtite technology has proven to be a superior, corrosion-free, long lasting product that is manufactured in accordance with high quality standards. The tests conducted show that the pipeline has in all ways remained unchanged over a significant period.

In conclusion it is evident that GRP is a product that has stood the test of time, and continues to do so. The full report is available on request

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