Pipebursting Evolution

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

"Over the past five years," he says, "we have introduced equipment to burst small diameter copper pipe to replace gas services which has introduced a whole new bursting application. Developing specialized tools and methods of attaching cutters to pull through half inch diameter pipe has been extremely challenging, and now that technology also is being applied to the water market. There is a very large number of gas and water services that need replacement, either because of age, type of material such as polybutylene pipe, or mandate, and pipebursting now is an option."

Together these advances have contributed to the steady growth of the pipebursting industry with footage increases estimated to average 20 percent a year and in some years, as much as 30 percent, says Orton.

"Even so," he adds, "there still are project owners and consulting engineers who do not completely understand the process and its capabilities. Education still is in its infancy."

Alan Goodman, Hammerhead manager of burst and ram sales for North America, says that pipebursting, along with other trenchless methods of construction, minimizes excavation and surface disruption, making it especially suitable for use in areas with existing surface improvements.

However, it offers other important advantages.

"Pipebursting," he stresses, "is a fast, clean, and environmentally neutral technology that does not involve chemical processes. Pipebursting replaces damaged and leaking pipe with new, uncompromised pipe, rather than a lined, repaired old pipe. In addition, pipebursting has the unique advantage of being able to maintain or increase pipe flow capacity and to provide longer life expectancy compared to other methods such as linings."

Continuing equipment refinement
These basic advantages are enhanced by improved equipment designs that are more productive, can handle more difficult jobs, install a wider range of pipe materials, and improve the ability to upsize new pipe, believes Goodman.

Other factors contribute to the increasing use of pipebursting.

"Larger and better designed bursting machines with more power have been developed," Goodman says. "Improvements and more power extend the range of bursting jobs and increased power puts less stress on the equipment. The capability of installing a wider range of material has expanded bursting to non sewer projects of water and gas pipes, electrical conduit and other applications. Pipebursting also is effective in existing pipes that were previously lined."