The Institute for Research in Construction (IRC), a division of the National Research Council of Canada, is evaluating both the short- and long-term performance of four different gravity-pipe types: reinforced concrete (RC), corrugated steel (CS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The results will provide municipal engineers with information on the effects of various field factors on each pipe as well as provide engineering data to allow engineers to determine the best pipe type for specific site conditions. Municipal engineers will be able match pipe to service life and provide savings for taxpayers.
The first phase of the study reviewed current literature and found that engineers grouped buried pipe types into two categories: rigid and flexible. The literature review found that all pipe types can perform well. However, short-term and long-term criteria differed significantly for each pipe type.
For the second phase, researchers surveyed current engineering, purchasing and decision practices of Canadian municipalities and DOTs.
The third phase, expected to begin in the summer of 1999, will involve the installation and monitoring of all four pipe types as well as the numerical modeling of soil/pipe interactions for various pipe, trench and backfill parameters.
When the field data has been completed, the study's fourth phase will calculate life-cycle costing information that engineers can use for their purchase decisions.
The article includes data revealing field performance of the four pipe types.
Keywords: pipe, RC, life cycle, rigid, flexible