HDPE Composite Pipe Gets Another Look

A fiber-wrapped HDPE composite pipe originally invented in 1988 for high-pressure gas transport may be arousing renewed market interest.

A fiber-wrapped HDPE composite pipe originally invented in 1988 for high-pressure gas transport may be arousing renewed market interest. Krauss-Maffei in Germany (U.S. offices in Florence, Ky.) showed its first reinforced thermoplastic pipe (RTP) production line at an open house in May before shipping it to China. K-M bought the technology in 2002 from Kuhne Anlagenbau GmbH in Germany, which had built one system for Gazprom in Russia in 1998. Since then, other pipe producers like Pipelife in Austria, have assembled RTP lines themselves from standard equipment. K-M’s RTP system starts by extruding an HDPE inner tube, which is over-wrapped diagonally with two to four layers of a composite tape of nylon, PET, or glass fibers impregnated with PE. An outer layer of HDPE is then extruded over the tape wrapping. K-M can supply systems to impregnated the tape and to extrude and wrap the pipe. RTP pipe can withstand up to 200 bar (2900 psi) of pressure. It competes with steel pipe, which needs frequent replacement because of corrosion.