Quest For Innovation At The Trenchless Technology Center

November 2012, Vol. 67, No. 11
Figure 3. FutureScan module in deployment

TTC Director Dr. Erez Allouche, who joined Louisiana Tech University in 2003 and became the TTC Director in 2012, observes that the TTC’s technology development and rapid prototyping capabilities are attracting growing interest from across the nation, as it allows the industry to develop unique technical solutions in a professional environment, while leveraging their limited research and development dollars with state and federal grants.

This article will focus on three current thrusts to give a flavor for the type of innovations currently under way at the TTC. These innovations, as well as other technologies under development at the TTC, are either patented or patent pending. A more complete listing of TTC activities and facilities as well as its extensive cyber based resources can be found at the TTC’s website, www.ttc.latech.edu and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/trenchlesstechnology). A new feature which might be of particular interest is the TTC’s Trenchless Technology Electronic Reference Room (T2eR2), which is schedule to come on line in the first quarter of 2013.

Finding laterals more reliably after relining

Cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) is the most commonly used method for the rehabilitation of municipal buried pipes in the world. Over the past 40 years, millions of feet of CIPP were installed around the world. The vast majority of sewer liner installtions in the past used a felt fabric into which the resin was impregnated but incorporated no structural fiber reinforcement. Thus, when a liner was inverted and cured, an indention (or dimple) formed at the location of the lateral services, allowing an operator to properly position a cutter to restore the main-lateral connection.

As rehabilitation technologies have shifted, however, to the rehabilitation of pressure pipes and more efficient means of lining large diameter sewers, the need for higher hoop strengths in the liner has resulted in the incorporation of glass fiber, carbon fibers and other stiffer materials in the CIPP fabric. Furthermore, the service connections of water and gas mains are significantly smaller (one - 2-inches diameter) than sewer laterals (three – 6-inches diameter).