The U.S. partners of a German pipe company say they plan to build four U.S. extrusion plants to make very large-diameter pipe from high density polyethylene and polypropylene.
The firm touts its pipe system as being watertight and airtight, easy to install, coextruded with an inner liner to eliminate static electricity, and in diameters of up to 154 inches, or nearly 13 feet.
The technology belongs to Karl-Heinz Krah GmbH of Schutzbach, Germany, which makes the pipe for sewer projects and other applications.
Willem Boltong of Macon, Georgia, president of AIM International and Krah's U.S. distributor, and pipe consultant George Coleman of Texarkana, Texas, are managing directors of PPD/Krah Pipe Development Co. North America and PPD/Krah Pipe Development Co. South America.
Boltong and Alexander Krah, worldwide sales manager for Krah in Germany, said the North American division plans to build four U.S. plants to extrude the pipe and manufacture the manholes and fittings.
Though actual sites for the plants have not been determined, PPD/Krah is targeting Texas, South Florida and New York, Boltong said in a telephone interview from Houston Jan. 13.
``We are looking at these markets not only for new installation, but also for relining [projects],'' particularly in larger cities where infrastructure replacement is needed, he added. ``You will see us in New York [City] very soon.''
The company featured its technology at the Underground Construction Technology trade show, held Jan. 12-14 in Houston.
The pipe, which is made either of HDPE, PP or flame-retardant PP, can be produced in solid-wall or profiled extrusions as thick as 8 inches.
The pipe has been used for municipal projects in Germany and the Netherlands, Alexander Krah said. Its German customers include Teerbau GmbH, Mirbach & Lappe and Frank Deponietechnik.
The company claims that what sets its product apart from other plastic pipe is that the joint sockets are integrated with wire during pipe production. Rather than fastening lengths of pipe or fittings with cement, electric current is applied to the wire in the sockets, which melts the plastic and fuses the pipe lengths together, creating a watertight and airtight seal, Boltong said.
The company says the patented electro-fusion process offers a number of advantages: Pipe lengths can be joined in the trench within 15 minutes, meaning more pipe can be laid in less time. The process also allows for narrower trenches — which helps ease obstruction of roadways during construction, Boltong said.
He said Krah is in the process of gaining approval to use the pipe in water distribution systems, as well. It already is being used for liquid silos at breweries and dairies, and to replace steel air ducts in industrial settings, he said.
Coleman said PPD/Krah's South American operation is working to bring the technology to Argentina, Brazil and Chile.