The transportation of pipes is normally very inefficient, since most of the overall volume is taken up by the hole in the middle. This is not normally a problem where a good road network is available. However, for constructing pipelines in remote regions, areas of natural disasters or war zones where the roads may be very poor or even non-existent, there is a need for a system where the pipes can be transported 'flat-packed'.
A novel technique for producing plastic pipes of unlimited length in the field is being developed in collaboration with a research group in the Ukraine. It is anticipated that pipe diameters between 90 and 1600mm can be made using this technique, with wall thicknesses between two and 40mm.
The pipe wall is made up of multiple layers of plastic strips, normally between one and two millimetres thick, which are bonded together at their edges, using modified extrusion welding equipment. The strips are fed automatically into the welding head from a number of separate rolls, depending on the required wall thickness of pipe. The whole system is very compact and can be transported in a small van. Typical line speeds are of the order of 30m/hr, depending on the size of pipe.
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