The world’s first sustainable pipe, designed by QuakeWrap Inc., a Tucson, AZ-based designer, supplier and installer of FRP (fiber-reinforced polymer) products, won an American Society of Civil Engineers Innovation Award in the category “Best Value — Green Engineering.”
According to the inventor, Dr. Mo Ehsani, a Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona, the walls of the new pipe , called StifPipe, consist of a lightweight honeycomb core covered with carbon or glass FRP. He says that the pipe can be easily manufactured to any shape or size, and weighs about 10% less than traditional pipes. The FRP material, said Ehsani, is a technique that “has been successfully used in aerospace and ship-building industries for decades.”
This new breakthrough in pipe and sewer technology is one of many innovations in the field. For instance, trenchless sewer repair, a non-invasive pipe replacement and repair method, has been around for 10 to 15 years, although most homeowners haven’t heard of it.
StifPipe is a particularly relevant invention, however, especially as more construction projects try to achieve LEED certification. Eshani said, “the use of StifPipe can contribute significantly towards achieving such certification on pipeline projects.”
The product won the innovation award because of its lightweight materials, fast product rate, recyclable materials which are durable and environmentally safe, as well as its ability to be built onsite.
QuakeWrap also announced that the company has developed a Mobile Manufacturing Unit (MMU) to allow continuous onsite construction of the pipe at a rate of two miles per week. This could seriously revolutionize the pipeline industry by providing the first sustainably manufactured pipe for big, normally environmentally degrading, pipeline projects.
The new technology has already been put to use — in December 2012, it was used to repair and rehabilitate a corroded metal pipe culvert in Mobile, AL. And last year, the pipe was used in a project in Cairns, Australia.