Utilities around the world lose 345 billion liters of water each day – that is the equivalent of around a half-filled bathtub per person. At the same time, these losses also result in financial damages of around $39 billion per year. Considering the challenges surrounding water scarcity and climate change, solving water loss should therefore be a priority. The good news is that there are effective strategies to meet these challenges head-on.
Water loss can be attributed to many factors. However, one of the most common causes is the age of piping systems. No matter how advanced a water network is, maintenance and renovations are inevitable, and components that have reached the end of their service life need to be replaced as quickly as possible. Because of this, utilities require technical solutions that meet two major criteria. On the one hand, piping systems for water transport lines need to be reliable and long-lasting in order to reduce maintenance requirements. The second criterion is an efficient installation process that can be completed quickly and easily.
For over 25 years, ELGEF Plus by GF Piping Systems has served utilities as a high-performance solution for leak-tight pipe connections. The product family consists of a wide range of PE100 fittings, saddles, and couplers for the water and gas market. This range is complemented by a unique modular electrofusion system as well as specialized tools and machines. Since the 1990s, polyethylene has become the industry standard for water and gas applications, and there are several reasons for this development: On the one hand, its material properties make PE corrosion and maintenance-free, resulting in lower costs compared to metal. And, due to its lower weight, it is also easy to transport and install. At the same time, pipe connections are simplified thanks to jointing technologies such as butt-welding and electrofusion.
One of the ELGEF Plus system’s main strengths is flexibility. Here, electrofusion has proven to be a particularly popular and efficient technology for water utilities as it is ideally suited for pipe connections in trench environments or in tight spaces. In addition, electrofusion facilitates pipe connections with different material grades and wall thicknesses. It is possible, for example, to create a joint between PE80 and PE100 or a thickness of SDR 11 and SDR 17. Additionally, ELGEF Plus is compatible with trenchless technology which reduces the strain on infrastructure and cuts down on construction time. As part of GF Piping Systems’ Specialized Solutions program, customers can also create customized components that best suit their application needs.
Over the years, the ELGEF Plus product family has been successfully implemented in many different applications, including network renovations for a utility in northern Spain. The municipal utility in question is responsible for a water network with a length of more than 650km which supplies 1,5 million cubic meters of water to a population of over 250.000 people every year. To ensure the reliable supply of water, the company regularly updates and renovates its network. This often requires large and expensive trenches that are especially challenging in densely populated cities. After being notified that a section of the water network needed to be renovated in early 2021, Sinzatec, a Spanish specialist for trenchless technologies, decided to implement a complete solution by GF Piping Systems.
In an effort to speed up the installation process and lower the maintenance requirements for the water network, Sinzatec installed lightweight and corrosion-free ecoFIT pipes as well as ELGEF Plus fittings. In addition, GF Piping Systems offered compatible tools that ensured an efficient trenchless laying process. This included a special topload installation tool with an integrated peeling tool which allowed Sinzatec to flexibly place the branch saddles without having to cut the pipes. Sinzatec was able to quickly complete the installation by relining existing fiber cement pipes. Only minor trenches were needed to attach lateral outlets to the new pipes which was made possible by the tools supplied by GF Piping Systems. Carlos Gonzalez, the Utility Sales Manager at GF Piping Systems who oversaw the project in Spain, is pleased with the results: “The client was not only able to save money during the installation but also has the peace of mind that that they have selected high quality and long- lasting products that require little maintenance. This benefits the client but also the people in this beautiful region.”