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PLASTIC PIPES FOR WATER DRAINAGE IN RAIL- AND MOTORWAY TUNNELS – A MAJOR CHALLENGE

 

Florian Arbeiter, Tobias Schachinger, Stefanie Eichinger, Gisbert Rieß, Michael Stur, Michael Steiner, Florian Saliger

# 2021 Amsterdam

Plastic pipes are of outstanding importance for the distribution of potable and process waters, oil and gas, as well as for sewer and waste water disposal. However, plastic pipes are also used in many other technical areas. Especially in European countries with mountainous regions, such as Austria, Switzerland, Italy and southern Germany, rail- and motorway tunnels are an essential part of the national infrastructure and their efficiency is of high priority. One reason why lanes, tracks or whole tunnels have to be shut down temporarily is for labor- and cost-intensive maintenance of the drainage pipes. To avoid water ingress or damage to the overall structure, mechanical or chemical cleaning of the drainage pipes has to be performed regularly. Due to unfavorable hydrological/geological conditions or the use of cement/concrete-based building materials, the formation of calcium carbonate (CaCO 3 ) precipitates in the drainage pipes can increase the maintenance efforts drastically. While in most cases, the CaCO 3 precipitates can be cleaned with waterjet cleaning, in some cases very hard and compact CaCO 3 scale deposits may form in the pipes. This requires much slower hydro-mechanical cleaning, which in the worst case could cause local damage to pipe structures located kilometers deep in the tunnel and mountains. To address this critical issue, the current work deals with the design, formulation and testing of polymer pipe material compounds, which can be used to decrease CaCO 3 precipitates in drainage pipes. Therefore, several compounds, based on the same base polyethylene, have been manufactured on a small scale. Plate-like specimens were exposed to both simulated and real drainage waters in tunnels to characterize the impact of the material formulation on the precipitation of CaCO 3 . Some of the formulated polymer materials showpromising results regarding their fluid versus solid (CaCO 3 precipitation) behavior. Promising materials are currently being investigated with regard to their long-term effectiveness to decrease CaCO 3 precipitations. However, several additional tunneling specific requirements, such as special mechanical property profiles and extremely long lifetimes, have to be taken into account before these materials can be used in real application.

Related keywords : Drainage pipes, Tunnel application, Mechanical loads, Scale deposits.
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