Research Projects

Assessing the Use of High Density Polyethylene Pipes for Airport Use

Research is needed to determine if HDPE systems provide the longevity and environmental improvements for airport fueling systems. . HDPE piping is found in nearly 90% of municipal European piping systems versus less than 10% of municipal piping systems in the United States. Research is needed to determine if HDPE systems provide the longevity and environmental improvements for airport fueling systems and reduce the life cycle cost of airport piping systems

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

HDPE piping is found in nearly 90% of municipal European piping systems versus less than 10% of municipal piping systems in the United States. Often, users are not aware of the engineering advances that have been made with regard to plastic piping materials, especially HDPE, over the last several years. The temptation, and often procurement policies, to go for the piping and components with the lowest initial price can be very strong in all parts of the specification, planning, and installation process. While good cost control is admirable, sometimes these initial savings lead to larger costs down the line for repair and maintenance.
As proposed, these elements will address benefits in the airport environment in the following areas:

  1. Improved airport operational planning and execution by providing research into life cycle cost and other benefits of HDPE piping systems.
  2. Less disturbance of the airfield through longer life of the systems and stronger environmental protection
  3. Improved capacity management through the use of piping that is not prone to corrosion and scaling.
    Because of its considerable strength-to-density ratio, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipes and fittings can be found in many systems calling for corrosion-resistant piping. These applications include food production, water and waste water transport, natural gas pipelines and fuel systems. HDPE pipe can be joined by butt welding, electrofusion welding, socket welding or extrusion welding. These joints heat the pipe during the joining process, creating a completely homogenous joint so the weld becomes as strong, or stronger than the existing pipe on either side of the weld. There is no need to use rubber seals or jointing chemicals, as is used for joining PVC pipe, which can cause environmental health issues and increase the chance of failure over time. HDPE is less likely to have problems with tree root intrusion, and provides integrity for the pipeline, even when installed in unstable soils. HDPE piping is found in nearly 90% of municipal European piping systems versus less than 10% of municipal piping systems in the United States. When replacing carbon steel piping systems, it is necessary to excavate and, remove piping, decommission piping, and remediate soils. Construction includes airfield disturbances with safety and scheduling issues. With the extended life of HDPE piping, there is an opportunity to reduce the overall cost and environmental damage of fueling systems. Metal pipe can rust, corrode and scale - resulting in reduced flow rates and higher pressure drops over time. Users of metal pipe, valves, and fittings are often concerned with what they believe to be the mechanical strength limitations of plastics. Often, users are not aware of the engineering advances that have been made with regard to plastic piping materials, especially HDPE, over the last several years. To the best of our knowledge, there has not been overall research in the use of HDPE piping for fueling and water systems at airports. This problem statement ask that a comparative study of existing piping systems for life cycle costs and environmental improvements.
Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

"Research is needed to determine if HDPE systems provide the longevity and environmental improvements for airport fueling systems. PE and PVC pipes and fittings were introduced into Europe and Australia during the 1950s, mainly for water supply and irrigation but also for fuel gas and industrial applications. The first Australian Standard for PE pressure pipes was ASK119-1962. The use of HDPE systems is known to provide extreme joint strength, no thrust restraint, common trenching, resistance to corrosion, deposits and abrasions, high strength and flexibility and extreme durability.
Some piping products are less desirable than others from a material perspective, but are preferred due to their lower initial cost. Additionally, some piping products are targeted for use in one specific context and may be unsuitable in other environments. The temptation to go for the piping and components with the lowest initial price can be very strong in all parts of the specification, planning, and installation process. While good cost control is admirable, sometimes these initial savings lead to larger costs down the line for repair and maintenance. Research is needed to determine if the newer piping systems provide both the lower life cycle cost plus provide superior service through the elimination of pipe leaks. Overall, a higher integrity pipeline, especially with respect to fueling systems will provide stronger environmental protection."

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)
  1. Kickoff web meeting with ACRP project panel
  2. Determine the current state of research in the use of HDPE piping in fueling and other systems.
  3. Determine what airports in the US and Europe have HDPE piping systems. Determine other non-airport HDPE fueling systems.
  4. Conduct comparative research of carbon steel piping systems to HDPE piping system identifying any advantages and obstacles of each piping systems in the airport environment
  5. Provide a cost benefit analysis of the carbon steel and HDPE fuel piping systems.
  6. Provide Case Studies of the fueling systems
  7. Develop a prototype request for proposal for HDPE fuel piping systems.
  8. Final Deliverable: A Guidebook providing comparative Life cycle cost benefit study of the fuel piping systems.
Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

Research will require testing fueling systems, analyzing fueling system, It is likely the researcher will need to do research in the corporate sector because of wider use of HDPE piping. Further to add value, the researcher needs to provide results for fueling and water systems. Because of the need for engineering and scientific research, as well as finance for cost analysis, I estimate the cost to be$300,000. This is based on the cost of studies I have participated in for ACRP. ,

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

Research has been done in Life Cycle cost, but not for piping.
This problem statement is submitted jointly by Karen Scott, Inspired Strategies LLC
karen@inspiredstrategiesllc.com and Lynn Hampton, Lynn Hampton Associateslynn.hampton@yahoo.com

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Idea No. 194