Manufacturing pipes to contain fluid or gas is perhaps the largest ongoing engineering enterprise on the planet. Gas and petroleum operations tap into huge reservoirs of chemical fuels, shuttling the substances to storage tanks across miles of wasteland. Pipes travel undersea, overground, through frozen tundra, and across chasms as part of a bridge. Defeating these harsh environments, the alkaline content of soil and the battering effect of the elements, is a massive challenge, but that challenge is magnified many times over by the much harsher conditions within the confines of the pipes and valves.
Stainless steel networks of pipes and valves possess the mechanical features mandated to prevent leakage and defy fluid pressure changes. The alloy has mechanical durability and bonds well with other pipes, welding to connecting sections and joints, but there’s the question of chemical activity, a factor that’s accounted for by applying a membrane of polyurethane to act as a lining within the pipes. This thin membrane is designed to enhance the already hardy characteristics of the pipe, adding increased corrosion resistance and impact protection. The impact characteristic may appear redundant when the lining is an enclosed assembly, but, when dealing with caustic fluids at pressure, resistance to wear is a highly desired property. Acids and chemically active fuels will breakdown the internal parts of valves and the lining of a bare pipe unless a polyurethane coating has been applied. Additionally, a mining operation tests pipes and their associated valves on an entirely different level, adding an abrasion factor to the scenarios already under investigation.
A slurry of material flowing through a pipe at speed consists of fluid mixed with dirt and other granular matter. This combination creates a spectacular force of abrasion and a source of wear that will quickly shorten the life expectancy of the toughest pipe liner. High-impact polyurethane adds abrasion defeating characteristics to heat and chemical resistance properties, protecting the network of slurry pipes threading across a high-capacity mining operation. A grain pipe in a farm facility, a quarry full of waste material using a wide pipe to clear away fine particulate matter, all of these applications require a tough lining that also offers a level of elasticity, the ability to reflect the material down the inner space while absorbing impact. The elastomeric properties of the lining enables any vibration to be absorbed without slowing the movement of the slurry. The same property stops the abrasion from creating a friction affect where heat would be generated.
Polyurethane pipe lining and the subsequent lining of the valves integrated within the pipework has created a huge market for engineering plastic. It cures fast and can be applied after the pipe has been manufactured, forming in a single layer to create an impenetrable membrane that protects the innards of the pipe. This protection ranges from the molecular end of the scale, preventing corrosion due to the nature of a fluid, to the upper end of the scale, the deflection of abrasion when slurry flows within pipes.