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Materials News

European collaboration for high-tech pipe manufacture
A group of European machinery and materials suppliers has been set up to design a single-stage production process for peroxide-crosslinked polyethylene (PE-Xa) pipes used in gas and domestic water distribution systems, district heating and other industrial applications.

Besides Borealis, which has developed two new grades of crosslinkable high molecular weight HDPEs, peroxide supplier AkzoNobel and additives supplier Ciba, the group comprises Crosslink Finland, which produces infrared crosslinking units, Hans Weber Maschinenfabrik, which makes twin-screw extruders, and Inoex, which supplies mixing, dosing and control units.

The aim is to provide a single package for all the components as until now processors have had to select the different components needed for production on their own, without having the specific know-how. 

PE-Xa pipe manufacturers generally buy the PE, the peroxide and associated functional additives separately and dry-mix them in a batch process. The Inoex dosing and control equipment enables this to be done continuously, in-line with the extrusion and crosslinking steps. Integrated within is the nozzle system, which injects the peroxide during mixing to ensure that the granulate is thoroughly wetted. Twin-screw extruders are generally used for producing PE-Xa pipes because of their mixing capability and safe homogenisation without overheating.

Borealis says its BorPEX HE1878E PE-X resin was designed specifically for use with Weber extruders and Crosslink Finland's infrared crosslinking technology. Supplied in powder form, Borealis says the resin has a balanced molecular weight and higher MFR than traditional PE-Xa polymers as well as effective mixing and high crosslinking response. A recent development includes the BorPEX HE1878E-C2, a fully formulated compound in mini-pellet form that only requires the addition of peroxide to produce a PE-Xa pipe.

After extrusion, the pipe is crosslinked by heating with high power short wavelength infrared radiation that penetrates the pipe wall. This process gives short heating times and is combined with vacuum calibration.

 

 
 
 
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