A Thermoplastic Solution

Selecting components made from an appropriate material is imperative for completing a successful pipeline installation and ensuring its long-term integrity. While spacers can be manufactured from a range of materials – including metal and wood – high grade thermoplastic is proven to provide the most benefits with the least drawbacks.

Spacers are used to separate the carrier pipeline from the casing, ensuring the pipe is centralised and an even grouting can be achieved. A durable spacer that complies with standards should always be used because it ensures the integrity of the pipe is maintained.

The Water Services Association of Australia’s (WSAA) WSA PS-324 product specification for correct protection of carrier pipes when installed inside casing outlines various requirements for spacers used in water pipeline installations, including the use of materials. While the specification focuses on water pipelines, it can also be applied to oil and gas installations.

Metallic and makeshift wood spacers are commonly used for pipeline installations as they are cheap; however, they do not comply with the WSAA specification and can have a negative effect of the long-term integrity
of a pipeline.

“If a spacer made from inappropriate material is used, such as metal or wood, there is a high chance of corrosion or rotting occurring, as well as overall wear on the casing during the installation process,” says kwik-ZIP Managing Director Jason Linaker.

“These factors can have a negative effect on the longevity of the pipeline, create long-term rehabilitation or replacement costs, as well as cause reputational damage. That’s why contractors and asset owners should consider kwik-ZIP’s range of spacer systems.

“They are the only spacers in Australia that comply with the WSAA specification as they are made from an inert material (high grade thermoplastic) and prevent many of the problems seen with spacers manufactured from other types of material.”

What is thermoplastic?

kwik-ZIP systems are made from a high grade thermoplastic called ACETAL POM, well known among engineering plastics as one of the best performers when it comes to applications requiring excellent abrasion/wear resistance. ACETAL POM is characterised by its high flexural strength, high temperature resistance, low coefficient of friction and high resistance to organic chemicals, oils and synthetic detergents – even when immersed for long periods of time.

“While kwik-ZIP spacers are not as cheap as metallic or makeshift timber spacers, the long-term savings are worth the initial cost,” says Mr Linaker.

“As they are manufactured from ACETAL POM, kwik-ZIP spacers are corrosive-free so they won’t corrode or transfer existing corrosion to the new pipe, and as they are resistant to installations involving water, the spacers themselves will not corrode or rot. This ensures the integrity of the pipeline will be maintained and the need for rehabilitation or replacement is greatly reduced.”

Casing wear is also reduced as the spacers have a low friction coefficient, making it easy for the pipe to be inserted without damaging it. The flexible design of the spacers also means various runner heights can be achieved, allowing for different pipe/casing combinations.

Simple choice with big benefits

Choosing a product made from an inert material such as high grade thermoplastic will not only ensure material standards are met, it will also extend the life of the asset.

“When selecting a spacer, consider the material it is made from and if there is an applicable specification,” says Mr Linaker.

“It could be the difference between a durable, long-lasting pipeline and a failing pipeline that requires regular maintenance and rehabilitation, or, in the worst case, replacement before it reaches the desired design life.”

Article by Trenchless Australasia