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Different types of pipelines

10 Different Types of Pipelines Used in Underground Infrastructure

Pipelines play a crucial role in a society's infrastructure. They've been around for millennia, with the Romans coming up with ingenious piping methods made of lead, stone, clay, and terracotta.

Material science, pipeline uses, and the placement of pipelines have all advanced drastically since ancient times. Now we can explore several different types of pipelines that professionals use in the mechanical and civil engineering realms both with trenching and horizontal directional drilling methods.

Each of the ten different pipelines we'll be looking at is well suited for particular purposes, which we will also discuss. More specifically, different types of pipelines tend to best transporting different liquid types, like liquid petroleum and biofuels, to name a couple. If you don't know or unsure about some drilling term, be sure to look it up in our Directional Drilling Glossary and Terminology.

Concrete Pipes

Concrete pipelines are made using welded sheet steel to form jointing on the concrete's surface for reinforcement. 

Concrete pipes are typically wide in diameter, and construction workers lay them out over extended distances. Their best use is for water transportation over long distances, although they can transport other liquids.

The great thing about concrete pipes is that they can last well over 100 years, and so once installed, there is little need for worries of failure or extensive maintenance.

Also, they tend to have a good sulfate resistance which helps prevent erosion over long periods, and it means they can carry foul liquids.

Engineers tend to use transmitters to help them figure out the placement of such pipelines.

Cast Iron Pipes

Cast iron pipes are one of the most commonly used in engineering these days. They typically use these pipes for the dispersion of rainwater and soil. 

Manufacturers produce cast iron pipes in a foundry using sand cast processing. They pour molten iron into sand molds that are vertically mounted. These molds can come in numerous standardized sizes, and there is the option for custom molds for alternative pipe size requirements.

You'll generally see cast iron pipes used on public and private property in residential and commercial areas.

Places like your home, hospitals, schools, and offices usually have cast iron piping worked into their structure, and builders place them above and below ground for different needs.

Also, engineers use ductile cast iron pipes for transporting gas, as well as sewage and water.

Petroleum Oil Pipelines

When anyone mentions the word pipeline, you are going to think of oil. These pipelines are made with steel which has cathodic protection and an external coating added to it. They weld them together and can spring up pretty quickly, which is convenient for oil companies that want to make fast moves.

There are actually two kinds of oil pipelines. The first transports crude oil, and the second carries refined products such as gasoline. They are useful, however, as you can use them flexibly with different oil products.

Gas Pipelines

You can lay gas pipelines overland or underground depending on locations and specific criteria given to engineers. 

Transmission lines a built with steel as it is a cheaper option than transporting gas by modes of transport such as by train or truck. When the gas reaches a distribution location, it is then dispersed to homes and businesses via plastic pipes with strong corrosion resistance.

Slurry Pipelines

Water or other liquids mixed in with solids make what we call a slurry. Typically, the mining and dredging industries transport slurry to clear a location. 

Pipelines that transport this mixture need to be strong to withstand the solids that can knock against a pipe's internal walls. They make them with several different materials such as hardened steel, alloy steel, and carbon steel. The key is they are made to be abrasion-resistant and non-ferous.

Oily Sewers

These tend to be vast underground networks of pipes that serve oil refineries. Their purpose is to collect an oil and water mixture from the functioning refinery and then distribute it elsewhere.

Manufacturers produce these underground pipes using various materials depending on many factors such as heat and flexibility.

Stormwater Sewers

These start as open channel networks; however, aspects of them run underground. 

Stormwater sewers tend to be extremely vast in scale to deal with large quantities of water and sometimes slurry mixtures. They are made with concrete in their more prominent aspects, and then other piping materials can be used for more minor networked elements.

Hydrogen Pipelines

Since hydrogen can ignite quickly, pipelines that carry it must be very well sealed and durable. 

It's not common to get long hydrogen pipelines as hydrogen is normally produced nearby to where there is demand for it. This way, transport costs are kept to a minimum.

Alcohol Pipelines

These are not so common, but there are some alcohol pipelines in Brazil, for example.

The main issue with transporting alcohol is that it's a corrosive substance. Plus, there can be impurities in the pipelines that can affect the alcohol once it's delivered.

There's a 5 Km pipeline running from Randers city, Denmark, to Gelsenkirchen in Germany. The "Thor Beer pipeline" links a consistent beer supply from the Danish side to bars in a large football ground in Gelsenkirchen.

Originally copper pipes were used - which is an ideal material for transporting beer because of its anti-microbial properties.

Brine Pipelines

Yes, incredibly, there are such things as brine pipelines! A village called Hallstatt in Austria is renowned for its long-standing salt mining industry. Plus, they also claim to have the oldest industrial pipeline in the world - dating back to 1595!

Engineers at the time made it using a whopping 13,000 tree trunks that were hollowed out into pipe shapes.

The Different Types of Pipelines

Ultimately, engineers can use a vast array of options to build complex or very simple pipelines to serve particular needs. These days, anything that flows or that's in gas form can be transported using pipelines. Our favorite has to be the "Thor Beer" pipeline!

We should also say that the different types of pipelines available are forever growing, as material scientists develop new materials that can better support the transport of certain substances. 

Thanks for stopping by! Please check out our store if you're searching for specialist equipment to help with your next engineering project. All the best!

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