Pipebursting Evolution

Technology Can Now Burst/Split – And Install – Virtually All Kinds Of Pipe, Sizes
November 2009 Vol. 64 No. 11

Pipebursting technology can be applied to a variety of existing pipelines including: water mains and service connections, sewer mainlines and laterals, gas mains and services, telecommunications ducts and industrial pipelines.

Collins Orton, TT Technologies product specialist, says rapid advances have occurred after the British Gas/Advantica pipebursting patents expired.

"That opened the market not only to contractors who no longer had to purchase licenses, but to manufacturers who could develop new products without patent restraints,” he says.

Today, Orton explains, pipebursting and splitting equipment can be used to displace about any kind of existing pipe to install most any type of standard pipe used in wastewater, potable water, and natural gas industries, both for transmission and distribution.

"Equipment manufacturers have made advances in cutting and splitting blades to accommodate different types of pipe, " says Orton. "Bursting tools fracture old pipe and push pieces into the surrounding soil. Pipe splitting tools have expanded the bursting technique to pipe that cannot be burst or broken apart by the conventional bursting process. Splitting heads have multiple blades of various heights and roller cutters that get progressively larger that slice or split flexible pipes in one or several places and expanders push pieces into the soil around the pipe."

HDPE pipe has been widely used as the new pipe installed by pipebursting, but project owners who do not need or want to introduce HDPE into their systems have other choices. Restrained joint PVC and ductile iron pipes, clay pipe, and most recently fused PVC pipe are being used on many bursting projects, and manufacturers of these pipe products are actively promoting them for trenchless applications.

Pipe variety
"Project owners," says Orton, "have the option to install many types of pipe by the bursting process, and it is a challenge for manufacturers to recognize what types of pipe project owners want to use in their systems and develop the equipment and pipe to satisfy their requirements. The cartridge loading method of installing pipe lengths one at a time, rather than fusing a string of pipe, provides another way for contractors to make installations."

Orton says one of the most recent advances in pipebursting technology is the ability to burst small diameter pipes.