• PUR foam is today mainly handled as waste material burned in waste-to-energy plants. • HDPE is today either burned in waste-to-energy plants (this will often happen if PUR foam is not separated from the cas- ing) or, in the best case, cleaned and recycled for different purposes. When it comes to the production of new pre-insulated pipes with the use of recycled raw materials, the situation today is in general as described below: • New steel pipes include some percentage of scrap steel with the right quality. • We produce PUR foam only by using new-produced chem- icals, Polyol and Isocyanate. It is still on the research level to recycle PUR foam and use the recycled material to create new PUR foam – more about this later in the article. • Manufacturers have, until lately, only been using HDPE re- work from their productions in producing new HDPE casing. Environmental advantages We use HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) for the casings of pre-insulated district heating (DH) pipes. Recycling HDPE waste instead of using new HDPE reduces the CO 2 emission because the energy spent to produce HDPE granulate for our production is higher when the granulate is made from oil rath- er than when the granulate comes from waste HDPE, includ- ing transport. If the recycling material is from Europe, we save 1.6 kg CO 2 per kg HDPE. Reference is made to the life cycle database Ecoin- vent 3.5.
This article will focus on a new opportunity for qualifying recycled HDPE from external sources to produce the casing on new pre-insulated pipes so that the product will consist of 100% recycled plastic material. An opportunity which today is possible.
By Peter Jorsal, Product & Academy Manager at LOGSTOR
The journey towards a circular economy and recycling The demand to move towards a circular economy, making sure that materials are recyclable at the end of a lifetime and that we can produce new products from recycled materials, has come to the business for pre-insulated products for district heating and district cooling projects. The main components in pre-insulated pipe systems are steel as the service pipe, polyurethane (PUR) foam for the insulation, and HDPE for the outer casing. At the end of the lifetime of a pre-insulated pipe system, the different materials can, in principle, be separated and handled in different ways: • The steel pipe can be handled as scrap steel. Scrap steel has been traded for years and has value.
At the same time, we save the Earth's natural resources by avoiding extracting oil from the underground as far as possible.
What’s in it for the energy company? For the energy company, the DH distribution network owner, it is a decisive condition that the use of recycled plastic in casings does not compromise the quality of the finished product and the service life of the distribution network.
Pre-insulated Pipes with Casings of external sourced Recycled HDPE
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