Cleaner Water for Potable Pipes


10/18/1996 - 107-96r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541


Scientists in the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Chemistry Division have developed, tested and successfully installed a chemically resistant, nontoxic epoxy lining for potable water pipes. When this lining is applied to the interior of pipes via compressed air, pipe corrosion and leaching of lead and other heavy metals into the water is eliminated. "It is a fast, economical, in-place rehabilitation of drinking water systems", says principal investigator Dr. Robert Brady, a polymer chemist and head of the Coatings Section in NRL's Materials Chemistry Branch.

According to Dr. Brady, "The operation causes minimum disruption to tenants or their activities and may be used on systems with numerous bends and varying diameters of pipe. Piping may be lined without removal or disassembly, and is returned to service within 48 hours. The lining is suitable for piping use on ships, inside buildings and underground. It dries in twenty minutes, and resists severe mechanical abuse. It releases no color, taste, odor or leachable material into the water. The lining was recently installed in potable water pipes in three buildings at the Anacostia Naval Annex.

"Contractors furnished all labor, equipment and supplies. Cleaning and painting are done entirely within the pipe system and hose (which may attain 60psi), and no unusual worker safety and environmental precautions are required. Digging or removal of insulation is usually unnecessary. After the lining has been installed there is no concern about spare parts, training or repair."

The lining was originally developed to solve corrosion problems aboard aircraft carriers. Dr. Brady noted that, "Those ships experience severe erosion and corrosion of piping in their waste collection systems." The Naval Sea Systems Command Detachment, Bremerton, Washington, initiated the program to line those systems. The lining has been installed in the waster collection systems of all active (and many now decommissioned) carriers and is specified for installation in all new aircraft carriers during construction. In November 1995, the USS JOHN C STENNIS (CVN 74) was the first carrier delivered with the lining installed.

The Environmental Security Technology Demonstration Program (DoD) provided funding for the development of this technology.



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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,800 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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