Description: Utilities in the U.S. operate over 75,000 km (47,000 miles) of old cast-iron pipes for gas distribution. Bell-and-spigot joints that connect pipe sections together tend to leak as these pipes age. Current repair practices are costly and highly disruptive. The objective of this program is to design, test and commercialize a robotic system capable of sealing multiple castiron bell and spigot joints from a single pipe entry point. The proposed system will perform repairs with the pipe in service by traveling through the pipe, cleaning each joint surface, and installing a stainless-steel sleeve lined with an epoxy-impregnated felt across the joint. This approach will save considerable time and labor, minimize excavation, avoid traffic disruption, and eliminate any requirement to interrupt service to customers (which would result in enormous expense to utilities). Technical challenges include: (1) repair sleeves must compensate for diametric variation and eccentricity of old cast-iron pipes; (2) the assembly must travel long distances through pipes containing debris; (3) the pipe wall must be effectively cleaned in the immediate area of the joint to assure good bonding of the sleeve; and (4) an innovative bolt-on entry fitting is required to conduct safe repair operations on live mains.
Date: July 1, 2005
Creator: Kothari, Kiran M. & Pittard, Gerard T.
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Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department