Glass Russia, July 2011
Innovations in the production of GRP pipes: avant-garde and cost effective technology
VEM S.p.A. is an Italian company, located near Venice, specialized in the design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of continuous winding plants for the production of fiber glass reinforced polyester and epoxy pipes, suitable for different fields of application. Recently certified ISO 9001 through the British Standards Institution (BSI), the company supplies plants, engineering services, start up on site, personnel’s training and after-sale assistance, all over the world, always offering the most innovative solutions on the market in the production of GRP and GRE products by discontinuous and continuous winding process and related ancillary equipment (inclusive of quality control and testing equipment). The company’s cutting edge technology is constituted by their plants for the production of GRP and GRE pipes through continuous filament winding technology: STEEL BAND TECH (Drostholm technology) for the production of big diameters - ND: 300 – 600; 300 – 1800 ; 300 – 2600; 300 – 3000; 300 – 4000, and LAM TECH, the innovative plant designed by VEM (European patent EP 1138465) for the production of small diameter pipes ND:100-800.
The advantages of Continuous filament winding production
This process allows to produce GRP pipes in a continuous way, to be cut to the required length (usually 12 mt). The raw materials, namely resin, chopped glass fibers, high purity sand (if specified) and continuous roving are applied in predetermined ratios in order to give the pipe the required properties. This type of process has several advantages compared to discontinuous manufacturing of GRP pipes. The productivity of a continuous line may be about 100 km/year, three times higher than a discontinuous line that can produce 33 km/year of pipes. Moreover CFW contributes to savings in raw material consumption, yet maintaining unaltered the quality and efficiency of the pipe, and enables to constantly control the production quality of the pipe throughout the entire process.
GRP pipe: main characteristics and advantages
Glass Reinforced Polyester pipes are a composite product, manufactured from polyester resins and fibrous glass reinforcements and sand filler. They represent the ideal solution for the transportation of any kind of water, chemicals, affluent and sewers, since they combine the advantage of corrosion resistance, typical of plastics, with a mechanical strength which can be compared to that of steel pipes. GRP pipe’s main characteristics and advantages, compared to the ones of other traditional materials (steel and concrete and PVC), are:
- Higher mechanical resistance due to glass reinforcement;
- Corrosion resistance, both of the external wall and internal wall in acidic and salty environments. No protections such as coatings, painting or cathodic are needed. GRP pipes are resistant to nearly all chemicals even at much higher temperatures (up to 170°) compared to other plastic materials;
- Smoothness of the internal wall that enhances flow rates, with low friction losses minimizing pressure drops and avoiding formation of deposits. Therefore, less pumping power is required;
- Longer pipes compared to those made of traditional materials, so less joints are needed. This results in cost saving performance thanks to the easier transportation and installation, and to the reduced risk of leakage and lower friction losses;
- Very long life, around 50 years, hence contributing to lower maintenance costs;
- Absolute impermeability of pipes and joints both from external and internal;
- Very good stress-corrosion resistance under constant stress;
- Low thermal conductivity, hence reduced condensation problems and consequent moisture corrosion;
- Low weight of pipes (90% less than concrete pipes, 70% less than steel pipes) resulting in lower transportation and installation costs;
- Easier installation procedures both above ground and buried, thanks to their light weight and to sleeved joints, spigots and sockets that enable fast and reliable assembling.
Thanks to these characteristics GRP result the most cost effective solution in piping industry. Moreover the fields of application of pipes made of thermosetting composite material are varied, like for example drinking, industrial and agricultural water supply; sewerage and waste water systems; industrial, chemical and power plants, centralized heating systems; Oil and Gas.
Russian standards – Russia’s move towards standardization systems in the development and production of pipes from composite materials
In Russia, the utilization of GRP pipes is still limited, due to the absence of unified national standards. Considering the potential of the current market and the fact that polymer composites and products are widely used worldwide in important industry sectors such as building construction, transport infrastructure, crude oil extraction and oiland gas refining, aviation, shipbuilding and motor car construction, etc., such unified national standards are urgently required.
At present, the Union of composites manufacturers, Alliance KTI, has prepared and directed the proposals to create a standardization system for the development and production of pipes from composite materials, with the support of the Federal Agency for technical regulation and metrology. According to the Russian Union of composites manufacturers, the development program of national standards for 2010 comprises the following projects:
- Pipes and parts of the pipelines from thermoset materials reinforced by the fibers. Terms and definitions;
- Pipes and parts of the pipelines from thermoset materials reinforced by the fibers. Technical conditions».
These are still only a draft and the Union strongly believes in the necessity of a complete standardization to be continued in 2011.
Alliance KTI has observed that in other countries – especially the USA, EU P.R.C., India and Brazil - the development and application of polymer composites demonstrates their leadership in technological innovation, and provides internal economic development.
The Union affirms, considering all the above mentioned, that this technology is to be included in the “List of technologies having important social and economic meaning or important meaning for national defense and safety of the state” (critical technologies).
Moreover the Union of composites manufacturers, together with companies operating in this industry and interested organizations, is moving towards the development of national standards for 2012-2016 that will regulate the production and application of polymer composites and derivatives.
VEM SPA: latest innovations in the production of GRP and GRE pipes focus on reduction of energy consumption and raw material and finished product waste
Engineering company VEM Spa, thanks to its vast experience in the composites field, has developed the most efficient and high tech solutions in the production of GRP and GRE pipes. The company has presented its latest innovations applied on both of its continuous winding plants (STEEL BAND TECH and LAM TECH),demonstrating its constant engagement in research and development of new technologies, while highlighting its involvement in finding the most efficient and cost effective solutions, focusing on reducing energy consumption, raw material waste and finished product waste.
Latest innovations that focus on the reduction of raw material and finished product waste are:
- Lam Tech’s lamellar mandrel, for continuous winding production of small diameters pipes, has a heat transfer system that promotes uniform and efficient polymerization of the pipe, a very rapid stiffness regulation mechanism and a allows for extremely rapid diameter changes, all contributing to reductions of planned downtimes;
- Online thickness measurement device, linked to the PLC, operates during the pipe production without being affected by the pipe movement and consenting a constant thickness control throughout the entire production, resulting in a reduction in raw material waste and energy consumption;
- The enhanced resin and catalyst dosing station makes it possible to reduce raw material and final product waste thanks to the Coriolis Mass flow meters that allow a strict control of the quantity of resin and catalyst, the online thermostating resin and re-circulation system, as well as the pressure gauges in resin and catalyst lines to obtain high efficiency even in unfavorable environmental condition;
- Lifting tables with the high tech improvement of PLC height control and proportional hydraulics, is designed for the correct handling of the finished product, avoiding the possibility of delamination. The use of the innovative lifting tables helps to improve the speed control during the pipe approach and to ensure a high precision on the final height position during the production cycle;
- The innovation on the company’s premixing system has achieved a reduction in of resin in the mortar core from an average of 26% to about 16%, allowing for a better compaction and homogeneity of the core mixture and reduction of raw material waste.
Moreover the latest innovations focused on reduction in energy consumption are:
- New infrared online curing station, with optimized wavelength that enables it to achieve an energy reduction of up to 30% and speed up the production rates up to 50m/hr;
- Sand dosing system with high heat transfer capacity consisting of a high definition temperature detection with 18 heat sensors and a IR power percentage regulation. This new technology enables to PLC control the sand temperature during high production rates using a minimum amount of energy.
Online insulation of GRE pipes for district heating
Another innovation presented is the online insulation of GRE pipes for district heating applications used in hot water transportation up to 110°C (peak temperature 150°), through continuous production.
The thermally cured epoxy pipes are insulated with PU foam and covered with a protective PE coating. Online insulation allows one to obtain a very uniform expanded foam layer on the surface of a continuously wound pipe. The PU hardened layer allows a subsequent application of a protective PE coating by the melted extrusion method of filled polyethylene or the spray application of a non-foaming PU-based formulation. These operations are completely integrated in the continuous filament winding process and are characterized by the following advantages: a consistent density of the insulation, no insulation voids, full concentric application onto the pipe and the jacket fully bonded to the insulation. Finished products comply with EN 253 standard for PU insulated pipes.
VEM has already supplied its technology in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America, supplying more than 45 continuous winding lines.
The turnkey supply comprises all the implementation phases, from design, equipment erection supervision and commissioning to plant start-up, training of client’s staff and transfer of production know-how. VEM’s specialists are also ready to offer their services for local raw material analysis, project feasibility studies, designing specific production solutions, and finally after-sales services.