An unwavering commitment to advancing the civils industry for the benefit of South Africa’s water infrastructure has seen plastic pipe manufacturer, Marley Pipe Systems, invest in educational and development projects that contribute to water conservation efforts.
More recently, Marley donated PVC pipe materials to the University of Cape Town (UCT) to help students conduct instrumental work for a significant project that seeks to study water loss in pipes.
The main objective of this on-going research project, which is being conducted as part of the Honours Level students’ final year thesis, is to investigate pipe behaviour, particularly with regard to how pressure in the system affects leakages in pipes.
So far, the research has focused on three main concepts, namely why leakages caused by holes or cracks are sensitive to pressure in the system, plastic deformation as a result of leakages expanding with pressure, and the interaction of leakages with surrounding soil – which deals with a relatively new phenomenon that has been discovered whereby a leakage in a pipe creates a vortex in the surrounding soil, generating a scouring action that results in the outer surface of the pipe wearing away.
Kobus van Zyl, Professor of Hydraulic Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at UCT, said: “The better we understand how pipes and leaks behave, the better we are able to counteract those actions and better design pipes and pipe materials as well as develop techniques and inform installation practices for the future.”
Marley supplied PVC pipe materials to allow the students to take the theories that they have developed over the years and perform experimental tests by cutting cracks and holes into the pipes and exposing them to different pressures to see how the leakages respond, and then comparing this data with their theories.
In coming forward to provide the materials to execute these kinds of tests, Marley is able to benefit the industry by identifying the flaws and weakening factors that exist in pipe design today and thereby contribute to a more promising future for sustainable water distribution systems.
“It’s great for us to have support from sponsors like Marley. We hope to continue engaging with Marley in order to guide us in doing future research that’s useful to the industry and that will help to improve the performance of our distribution systems,” said Professor van Zyl.