Polyethylene PE100 and PE80B pipes are used extensively in gas distribution applications world wide. In USA and Canada over 90% of the natural gas distribution system is in plastics pipes with polyethylene representing 99% of the installations. In Australia the use of polyethylene in natural gas distribution systems is growing rapidly.
PE is lightweight, flexible and available in long coils minimizing the number of joints. It is ideally suited for a wide range of service conditions requiring very little maintenance. It has good abrasion resistance, flexible not effected by soil shift and temperature fluctuations.
Polyethylene pipe is recommended by PIPA for use in compressed air installations.
Moura Mine, 170km inland from Gladstone in Queensland, provides coal to Japan and other offshore customers. Methane is collected in Vinidex medium density polyethylene pipes from horizontal wells drilled into the mined-out open cut coal seams at the mine and transferred to a compression station 8km away. It is then delivered via a high pressure line directly to the state Gas Pipeline.
Medium density polyethylene (PE80B) was selected as the preferred material for the gas main because of its quality and proven performance in the harsh and rugged conditions, typical of mining projects. MDPE is used by natural gas authorities for its flexibility and ease of handling and installation. Joining of the 8,000m pipeline was by butt fusion welding, with selected sections bolted together using stub flanges and steel backing rings to allow access for special valves and fittings.
At a remote mine site located in central Queensland, a plumbing and pneumatics company, has completed an impressive system of PE pipe work to supply instrument and plant air in a coal preparation plant. The Hail Creek Coal Project used 2,500 m of Polyethylene pipe and 3,600 electrofusion welded joints for 800-kPa compressed air reticulation in its coal preparation plant. The Hail Creek coal preparation plant is designed as a 20year project. With the installation of the latest generation PE100 Vinidexair pipes and Plasson electrofusion fittings in the 800-kPa compressed air systems, the project can be confident of a reliable maintenance free system.
Such polyethylene systems are economical to run because the low leakage rate means reduced power is used in the system to maintain a given airflow and pressure. Freedom from rusting also means that control components in the system are not adversely affected by blockages.
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