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New connecting system for water pipes


Laying water mains has always been a time-consuming job. Each section must be laid, joints welded, the interior checked for heat damage, and any damage repaired. Then the whole thing has to be encased in concrete if the ground is uneven. Now EUREKA project DRIVE-LOCK is about to make the process quicker and cheaper.

The French and Swiss partners in the DRIVE-LOCK project have developed a new conical interlocking system that joins steel water pipes together quickly and combines the strength of a welded solution with the flexibility and speed of a conventional elastomer, or rubber, joint.

Christian Pallier, Project Manager of the French lead partner Hydrotechnique explains that DRIVE-LOCK saves 40–60 per cent of welding time. "The new joint has less coupling play, reducing the need for welding,” he says.

DRIVE LOCK also offers environmental benefits as a tighter, more secure joint means less water will leak away and be wasted.

The French partner Hydrotechnique designed the DRIVE-LOCK system and the Swiss partner, Romag, manufactured the prototype utilising its experience in the production of coated steel pipes.

DRIVE-LOCK offers the building site manager complete control over the joints required as a water main is being laid. Simply pushing together male and female DRIVE-LOCK cones may be sufficient in some circumstances. But a more secure joint can be added if necessary. For moderate strain, the joints can be welded in four places around the joint, locking it in place. Or the joint can be welded completely, making it strong enough to withstand strong pressures and uneven ground without requiring blocks of concrete.

The inner surface of the pipe is protected during welding by a synthetic resin coating, removing the need to inspect and repair the pipe. DRIVE-LOCK produces a hermetically-sealed inner joint which maintains water quality for longer.

Pallier found working in a EUREKA project required hard work but brought significant rewards. “EUREKA brought financial support and credibility to a new company, but it did require a lot of effort to follow through the project and its management, especially to coordinate the different partners.”

DRIVE-LOCK was completed on time, within budget, and in time for its launch at the French Pollutec 2002 show, ready to tap into the huge market for water mains. In Europe alone this represents 15–20,000 km of piping a year!

Nicola Vatthauer | alfa
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