Investigation of High Density Polyethylene Pipe for Highway Applications, HR-373, Phase 1, 1996

(1996) Investigation of High Density Polyethylene Pipe for Highway Applications, HR-373, Phase 1, 1996. Transportation, Department of


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In the past, culvert pipes were made only of corrugated metal or reinforced concrete. In recent years, several manufacturers have made pipe of lightweight plastic - for example, high density polyethylene (HDPE) - which is considered to be viscoelastic in its structural behavior. It appears that there are several highway applications in which HDPE pipe would be an economically favorable alternative. However, the newness of plastic pipe requires the evaluation of its performance, integrity, and durability; A review of the Iowa Department of Transportation Standard Specifications for Highway and Bridge Construction reveals limited information on the use of plastic pipe for state projects. The objective of this study was to review and evaluate the use of HDPE pipe in roadway applications. Structural performance, soil-structure interaction, and the sensitivity of the pipe to installation was investigated. Comprehensive computerized literature searches were undertaken to define the state-of-the-art in the design and use of HDPE pipe in highway applications. A questionnaire was developed and sent to all Iowa county engineers to learn of their use of HDPE pipe. Responses indicated that the majority of county engineers were aware of the product but were not confident in its ability to perform as well as conventional materials. Counties currently using HDPE pipe in general only use it in driveway crossings. Originally, we intended to survey states as to their usage of HDPE pipe. However, a few weeks after initiation of the project, it was learned that the Tennessee DOT was in the process of making a similar survey of state DOT's. Results of the Tennessee survey of states have been obtained and included in this report. In an effort to develop more confidence in the pipe's performance parameters, this research included laboratory tests to determine the ring and flexural stiffness of HDPE pipe provided by various manufacturers. Parallel plate tests verified all specimens were in compliance with ASTM specifications. Flexural testing revealed that pipe profile had a significant effect on the longitudinal stiffness and that strength could not be accurately predicted on the basis of diameter alone. Realizing that the soil around a buried HDPE pipe contributes to the pipe stiffness, the research team completed a limited series of tests on buried 3 ft-diameter HDPE pipe. The tests simulated the effects of truck wheel loads above the pipe and were conducted with two feet of cover. These tests indicated that the type and quality of backfill significantly influences the performance of HDPE pipe. The tests revealed that the soil envelope does significantly affect the performance of HDPE pipe in situ, and after a certain point, no additional strength is realized by increasing the quality of the backfill.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Backfilling, Building, Ethylene resins, Facilities, Flexural strength, Guides to the literature, High density, Installation, Laboratory tests, Literature reviews, Pipe culverts, Plastics, Plate bearing test, Soil structure interaction, Stiffness, Structural analysis, Structural mechanics, Wheel loads
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Materials
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Design and Construction
Transportation > Maintenance and preservation
ID Code: 19677
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 02 Jun 2015 14:51
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2015 14:51