Pipe Issues Blog

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North America's underground infrastructure is crumbling at an alarming rate, so smarter, more cost-effective and sustainable practices are needed.

Broader use of PVC pipe would solve this problem and enable municipalities to spend taxpayer dollars more wisely. To do this, local governments and utilities need to modernize outdated procurement practices that ignore corrosion-proof PVC pipe.

Explore our web site and visit my blog to learn about the exceptional performance and environmental attributes of PVC pipe, and why it should be included in every bid for water and wastewater infrastructure. To connect to my blog, bookmark this page or link our Pipe Issues Blog to your RSS feed program.

Industry expert and Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association President & CEO Bruce Hollands shares the facts.

Bruce Hollands

PVC and HDPE Pressure Pipes: Material Comparison

Posted By Bruce Hollands on Mar 2, 2016

PVC and HDPE Pressure Pipes: Material ComparisonFor municipal applications, PVC pressure pipe is manufactured and tested per the AWWA C900 standard and is available in sizes up to 60 inches. HDPE pressure pipe is manufactured per the AWWA C906 standard in diameters up to 65 inches.

PVC: Stronger and More Sustainable than HDPE Pipes

PVC is a much stronger material, with a long-term hydrostatic design basis (HDB) of 4,000 psi compared to HDPE’s HDB of 1,600 psi. This means that HDPE requires almost 2.5 times more material to achieve the same pressure capacity as PVC. More material means higher embodied energy and a higher carbon footprint.

Since the outside diameters are the same for both materials’ pipes, HDPE’s thicker walls cause smaller inside diameters (resulting in smaller flow areas). Smaller flow areas require increased flow velocities for the same flow rates, so more pumping energy is necessary. This means increased operational costs for HDPE for the life of the pipeline.

Alternatively, reduction in flow area often requires HDPE to upsize to a larger pipe size. This means significant additional costs for valves, fittings, and other pipeline components.

Comparison Shows PVC Advantage

In addition to its excellent hydraulic performance, PVC water pipe excels in safety factors, external load capacity, oxidative resistance, ease of use, and longevity. More than 1.3 million miles of PVC pressure pipes have been installed in North America over the last 70 years. For projects from 4- to 60-inch, PVC is the clear product of choice as shown by a direct comparison of the two materials. Click here for the PVC/HDPE Material Comparison Sheet.

Need Assistance with Your Pressure-Pipe Project?

If you are planning a potable water or sewer force main project, PVC is the better material to meet pressure-pipe engineering and operational requirements. For assistance, call the PVC Pipe Association at 972-243-3902 or email info@uni-bell.org.