Agru America Inc. started producing large-diameter pipe in April at a facility on South Carolina's Charleston Harbor, where it can extrude 1,968-foot-long sections right into the water.
The company says the high density polyethylene pipe is the largest diameter manufactured in North America.
When sealed at both ends, the pipe is buoyant and can be towed by tugboat to customers around the world. This ocean-tow option soon will be the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere for PE pipe, according to Cheryl Rhude, Agru's vice president of marketing.
The Georgetown, S.C.-based business is manufacturing pipe from PE100, PE100-RC and PE4710 resins with diameters up to 98.4 inches for high-volume flow applications, such as gas, potable water and wastewater.
“When we tell an engineer or PE pipe distributor about the sizes that will become available, they look at us like they can't believe it,” Rhude said in a phone interview.
“The largest size of PE pipe previously produced in North America was 63 inches and 63 inches is the smallest size we will be producing at this plant,” she said.
Easily fused and so flexible it can withstand major earthquakes, PE pipe installs quickly and resists leaking and corrosion. The smooth internal surface enhances hydraulic flow and deters zebra mussels and other biological issues, which saves on operating and maintenance costs.
For applications where products will be ocean towed, Rhude said to think cooling water intakes for power plants, sea water desalination plants, mining jobs and other coastal projects.