There are two areas of competition existing pipe replacement method and other methods of lining pipes – clean/
Aqualiner’s product is the only tubular pipe liner to have been given regulatory approved for installation into the UK drinking water infrastructure. The main activity in the UK is done by replacing the existing pipe by a number of methods including:
- Dig up and replace – The existing pipe is excavated by means of digging a trench and a new pipe is laid in its place and then the trench is backfilled and reinstated.
- Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) – A cavity is drilled through the ground, inside which the pipe is subsequently inserted. This is generally performed in a three-step process: pilot hole drilling; pilot hole reaming and drilling mud injection; and pipe pull-back
- Close fit lining – A thermoplastic liner pipe is temporarily deformed to reduce its cross-section before its insertion into the host pipe. The deformed liner is subsequently restored to its original diameter, forming a close fit with the original pipe
- Pipe Burst – A process that
utilises specialisedequipment to fracture brittle pipe materials and split ductile pipe materials and displace the old pipe into the soil while forming a cavity in the soil large enough to place a new pipe of equivalent or larger size in the space formerly occupied by the old pipe
- Slip Lining – A new pipeline of smaller diameter is inserted into the existing pipe. The annular space between the host pipe and new pipe is then grouted
- Fold and form – Insert a new folded pipe or pipe pulled
thougha die into the existing pipe and expand it to the diameter of the existing pipe Spray Lining(Non-structural) – Spray-on linings are generally polymer-based and have been one of the most widely used methods for providing corrosion protection and water quality improvement
All of these processes have significant downsides. Aqualiner is at an advantage over competing pipe rehabilitation methods, as it is versatile enough to be suitable in a wide range of scenarios and is generally lower cost.
WATER MAINS REPLACEMENT COMPARISONS (cost 200mm)
|Method||Change in cross section HDPE:SDR-17(c)||Structural Class(a)||Environment Impact/Equipment Footprint (Lane closures!)||Installation rate (per/week)||Design Life (Years)||Risk to nearby Infrastructure||Relative Cost per meter|
a) CEN ISO/AWWA Structural Classifications
- 1 – Non- Structural
- 2/3 – Semi Structural
- 4 – Fully Structural – new pipe equivalent
b) Target installation rate
c) Standard Dimensional Ratio (SDR)
One of the main competitors to the Aqualiner technology for sewers is cured in place pipe (CIPP) which was developed by Insituform Technologies, Inc. in the 1970’s. Insituform Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Aegion Corporation (Nasdaq Global Select Market: AEGN), is a leader in global pipeline protection. Insituform provides proprietary technologies and services for the rehabilitation of wastewater and water pipelines. The CIPP technology has limited applicability to water, due to the materials used having a strong odour and potential to contaminate both the water conveyed and ground water supplies. Aqualiner has been developed to eliminate these problems.
Insituform Technologies, Inc. is a company that is already in the pipeline rehabilitation market place. They have some significant contracts to re-line sewerage pipes in Eastern Europe and in the Far East. These contracts bolster their US work and have allowed them to stabilise the Company. Insituform does develop its own technologies as well as doing contract pipe lining. Insituform also work in conjunction with other companies to licence technologies or buy materials and implement them in their lining systems. In this scenario, Insituform would become a licensee from Aqualiner. Insituform could then become a contractor using the Aqualiner system for their many projects around the world.
Barrier to market entry
The main barrier to market entry is the requirement to have approval for installation in drinking water pipes. This depending on the country involved can take years and may never be granted if there are any ingredients that are not able to be cleared.
It terms of barrier to a similar process being developed this is now known to be a significant technical challenge. The Aqualiner process was historically seen to be relatively simple but since 2016 it is known to be as complex as aerospace engineering in order to achieve reliable and consistent delivery of airflow and heat through the lining material in order to achieve a reliable and pressure tight pipe liner. The ability to simultaneously control time, temperature, airflow and inversion pressure is critical to achieving a constant quality of pressure tight liner.