The cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) industry is marking its 50th anniversary in 2021 and in Eastern Canada, the process has been in play for well over 25 years. Slowly gaining acceptance in the region is the use of ultraviolet (UV) CIPP.
Benefits often touted for the UV product include being more environmentally friendly, easier to handle and install, having a smaller jobsite footprint and improved installation quality controls. So why is it that there aren’t UV-CIPP projects booming across Ontario and Atlantic Canada? To delve into that we sought the perspective of a consultant, an installer and a supplier who work extensively in the CIPP market.
Taking part in this survey of the Eastern Canadian UV CIPP landscape are:
- Kevin Bainbridge, A.Sc.T, manager, Robinson Consultants Hamilton Branch
- John Bowles, MscE, P.Eng, president and CEO of Inversa Systems and Eastern Trenchless.
- Evan Stark, CEO, I.S.T. Innovative Sewer Technologies Canada Inc.
How would you rate the UV CIPP market in Eastern Canada?
BOWLES: The CIPP market in general is in its infancy in the Atlantic region, with only a handful of clients undertaking annual lining programs. Most clients are finding CIPP through one-time projects, at the suggestion of a handful of consultants, who truly understand the technical merits of lining and the cost savings it generates. As far as UV-CIPP, in the most recent years, there has been an increasing number of requests for UV, due to some of the inherent advantages. Clients are beginning to ask an increasing number of questions about environmental safety, condensate contamination, styrene release, noise reduction, equipment footprint reduction for traffic planning and odor control methods.
STARK: While UV has been going on in Canada for approximately 20 years, the East coast CIPP market in general is still in growth. UV is continuously gaining popularity in all markets for CIPP from laterals to mainlines. With the abundance of highways and rural roads, culvert rehab is becoming immensely more popular. UV has become a pro professional approach to rehab rather than dig and replace. As people learn more about the benefits to UV technology the requests for additional information are increasing.
BAINBRIDGE: I would say that the UV CIPP market is in fair state but increasing. It continues to have a good trajectory to continue building and improving through innovation and increased awareness. But there is still lots to be done in the market so UV CIPP can continue to grow.
Where are you seeing UV CIPP used?
STARK: As an installer of UV for more than 15 years, a large portion of installations were in corrugated steel pipe culverts. UV is most commonly used for gravity pipes like sanitary and storm collection systems. With unique benefits UV is perfect for culvert rehabilitation and you can see UV becoming more specified in storm system rehab. UV can also be used in pressure pipes and is even gaining momentum in potable water. As a supplier, I’m seeing it used a lot for easement work or environmentally sensitive areas. Minimal jobsite footprint and long cure cable lengths can reduce the need for temporary roads and needs to be directly over the access points with equipment. Liners can be maneuvered into position using a crane or skid steer or carefully dragged or pulled wherever needed.
What are the benefits of UV CIPP?
BOWLES: From a contractor’s perspective the speed (fast cure time) and cleanliness (no wet out required) are a huge advantage. Equipment storage requirements are smaller and no nearby wet out facility is needed. Also, wet-out liners do not “kick off” in high summer temperatures, so no liner/resin cooling is ever required.
From an engineering perspective, liners come from a factory pre wetout, typically under ISO quality control with little variability in resin volume and are much stronger per thickness, due to reinforcement (therefore are thinner and better hydraulically). The entire cure process is visible and recorded from within the pipe prior to curing (for quality checks) and during curing for 100 per cent QA/QC start to finish. The process can be started and stopped if required, offering excellent operator control, leading to very few complete liner failures and need for excavation.
From a client perspective the equipment has a much smaller footprint, is quieter, has far less odor and resident complaints.
From a safety perspective, no high temperature steam or water is required, styrene exposure is lower, no contaminated condensate is left behind and no resin is in contact with the host pipe wall or pipe interior (no contamination and less smell through dry laterals or drain tile/sump connections).
What are the barriers to growth?
BAINBRIDGE: There needs to be improvement in the specifications to be more inclusive of UV CIPP and allow it into the space to bid and compete. Particularly, in the vast majority of cases where there is no advantage to restricting any type of CIPP (cure method), so both traditional felt and resin liners as well as glass reinforced UV cure liners are acceptable to address the objectives of rehabilitation. The specifications in the market typically are written based on traditional felt and resin without appropriate modifications to address the differences with UV. That needs to improve. There needs to be an increased understanding of the differences between traditional felt and resin and UV CIPP. Just like when CIPP was first entering the Canadian market almost 50 years ago as an acceptable way to repair buried pipe, continued education around what it is, how it works and what it is capable of doing has been a significant part of its success.
Municipalities and consultants need to understand UV relative to traditional CIPP to foster increased accessibility to products and contractors. It is tough to get more contractors if you can’t get more accessibility to the products, which is linked to education, acceptance and improved tender specifications. I think if you increase the accessibility of products, the contractors who can supply those products will increase. In my experience, I am seeing UV CIPP provide opportunity for new contractors to enter the CIPP market in Eastern Canada, which is something that I believe will be necessary to respond to the increased market demand (volume of work) which continues to rise. Increased availability of contractors supplying UV CIPP, will also provide increased advantages to municipalities requiring the specific use of UV CIPP in circumstances where it provides significant advantages.
STARK: There are various factors which come into play. Access to rental systems may limit a contractor’s service offering. General product knowledge, understanding and acceptance, adequate education is a large influence. Established installers, consultants and engineers may not like to deviate from methods that they already know and are proven to work. Another deterrent for steam and hot water installers is the process for installation. UV requires learning a new means for installation and safer procedures.
BOWLES: For regions with a longer history of CIPP use, change is always hard. People get used to and comfortable with, what they know. Contractors they trust have a lot of money invested in other methods and have strong relationships with past clients. Both of these facts create a natural resistance to newer methods. Additionally, until more recently the industry did not have complete specifications for pull-in-place liners and the testing labs didn’t fully understand the differences in testing reinforced vs. unreinforced liners. Fortunately, over the past five or so, years many of these conditions have improved and UV Cure methods have carved out a place in the industry. As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages of each method and no one solution fits all situations. Education is the key to making optimal choices.
How can the specs be improved?
BAINBRIDGE: There are several differences between UV CIPP and traditional CIPP, but the big difference in specifications is that the quality control and testing standards are different from traditional felt and resin vs. glass reinforced UV. Being a computer controlled curing process, the requested installation records will be different than water or steam cure. It boils down to having a sound understanding of the differences between the two methods so the specification can be modified to appropriately allow for all methods suitable for the project. We work collaboratively with our clients to provide them with a complete understanding of traditional and UV-cured CIPP and the differences between them. Through this understanding, we can look at the specific project and see if it should call for purely UV or be open to all CIPP methods. We’ve completed one project for a client where it was all storm sewers requiring rehabilitation with direct outlets to creeks. It made sense in this case to specify that only UV was acceptable. They received three bids and in the CIPP market in Ontario, that is a really good response to a CIPP tender.
What will it take to grow the use/acceptance of UV CIPP?
STARK: Education and exposure. The new era of engineers and consultants coming up are more intrigued with innovative and new technologies. The majority of their knowledge is through studies and older published info on the Internet. As people learn more about UV and as general CIPP requirements and regulations change, UV will be desired. Seminars, platforms, studies and reports are all going to help and will continue to evolve. The CIPP industry needs new and more contractors looking to advance their service portfolio and take on challenges to stay innovative and up to date with the latest tools of the times.
BAINBRIDGE: One of the method’s greatest benefits is its usage in environmentally sensitive areas that otherwise would not be considered for lining. Unfortunately, the perception that environmentally sensitive areas cannot be lined dominates in the industry. In many cases, municipalities and consultants don’t even consider CIPP in environmentally sensitive areas because of the typical logistic issues with traditional felt and resin and the release of styrene. UV makes that much simpler to address and deal with. I think there needs to be a turn in the industry for municipalities to be open to the use of CIPP in these areas. This is where education comes in. Municipalities and consultants need to understand that UV is different and should look back at the areas where they traditionally walked away from CIPP and reconsider it. We have already started to see this in the storm sewer and culvert lining market where we expect UV CIPP to make its biggest market impact.
We anticipate that we will see increases in new contractors entering the UV CIPP market rather than the traditional felt and resin markets. The trenchless market in Atlantic Canada is an example of that. UV has the potential to be the next big change in the eastern Canadian CIPP marketplace as it gives an easier avenue for new companies to get in due in part to product suppliers typically providing a high level of technical support.
BOWLES: I think the key is to provide accurate and balanced education. UV is not a solution to all problems, and it should not be presented as such. UV represents an evolution of technology that brings with it some key advantages. The more the industry understands the benefits the more it will naturally find its way into the right projects. I am a supporter of trenchless technology in general, the more tools the industry has in the toolbox the more problems we can collectively solve.