Basell: 35 years of Supplying its Lupolen HDPE Resin Used in Cross-linked PE Pipes (PE-X)

Beginning with underfloor heating, continuing with sanitary pipes and moving into anti-freeze pipe applications - producers of PE-X pipes have been giving their preference to Lupolen high density polyethylene for decades. The material is celebrating now its 35 years of commercial use in pipe applications.
It all began in 1968, when inventor Thomas Engel patented a process that used Lupolen 5261 Z, one of Basell predecessors’ state-of-the-art grades for use in PE-X pipe, to create the first cross-linked PE pipe. In 1972, Wirsbo (nowadays Uponor) produced the first commercial PE-X application - underfloor heating pipes.
‘One of those first peroxide cross-linked PE-X pipes produced using Lupolen 5261 Z is still in service today and continues to undergo creep tests at 95°cdesigned to evaluate the progressive deformation of the pipes under pressure at elevated temperatures,’ said Ulrich Schulte, head of Application and Technical Service for Basell’s Pipe and Sheet business unit.
‘When PE-X pipe grades were in the early development stages, customers were aiming to produce hot water pipe systems with a minimum service life of 50 years,’ added Schulte.
In the early years of plastic pipe material development, researchers based their indication of service life on accelerated pressure tests at elevated temperatures. The results were then extrapolated using a mathematical formula, the Arrhenius methodology. ‘By 1972, after only three years of testing at elevated temperature, the Arrhenius extrapolation indicated a potential service life, under adequate installation and utilisation conditions, of above 50 years for cross-linked pipes made from Lupolen resin,’ said Schulte. It is gratifying to know that today, more than 35 years later, the results of the long term creep tests initiated by those pioneers working with Lupolen grades show a correlation with the service life potential of actual PE-X pipes still in use,’ says Schulte.
The Lupolen 5261 Z test findings are significant, because pipe manufacturers are using this extrapolation method to provide an indication also of the service life of PE-X pipes using new-generation of Lupolen 5261 Z Q 456, Lupolen 5461 B Q 471, Lupolen 5031 L Q 449 K and Lupolen 4261 A Q 416 grades.
Basell is the global leader in polyolefins technology, production and marketing. It is the largest producer of polypropylene and advanced polyolefin products; a leading supplier of polyethylene and catalysts, and the industry leader in licensing polypropylene and polyethylene processes, including providing technical services for its proprietary technologies. Basell, together with its joint ventures, has manufacturing facilities in 19 countries and sells products in more than 120 countries.

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