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GROWTH POTENTIAL FOR PLASTICS IN INDUSTRIAL PIPES

AMI, Bristol, 21st May 2007 – According to new research from Applied Market Information Ltd., considerable scope exists for plastic materials to find greater use within specific sub-sectors of the industrial pipe market. The penetration of thermoplastic pipes in industrial applications is only a fraction of the total market, where steel is still primarily used, but is often over-specified. AMI’s report identifies 132,000 tonnes of plastics pipe consumption in industrial applications yet surprisingly few pipe producers have made a serious effort to explore the potential offered by industrial applications.  AMI estimates plastics’ current market share at little more than 5% and suggests that with more commitment and marketing by the plastic pipe industry, this share could be increased substantially.

 

Industrial processes are major users of pipe systems – essential for the transportation of a wide variety of liquids and gases.  The “default” option for specifiers is normally stainless steel pipes – of one grade or another.

 

However, many of the advantages offered by plastics pipe systems – light weight, ease of installation, corrosion resistance etc – are equally valid in industrial applications as they are in the established utility and building sectors.  Moreover, as the corrosion resistant properties of stainless steel vary with the grade – and price – there are without doubt many applications for which plastics pipe systems could provide a very efficient, cost effective alternative to stainless steel.  The fact that corrosion resistant 316 grade stainless steel pipes are up to three times as expensive as their equivalents in standard thermoplastics gives weight to the potential scope for substitution.

 

Major opportunities exist for plastic pipe in potable and process water supply and gas supply as well as in fire suppression systems, driven by ever higher health and safety standards. There are opportunities for pipes in the 200-500 mm diameter range and PE systems, in particular, are well placed to compete. There could also be a role for multilayer barrier pipes for the conveyance of potable water networks over polluted land.

 

Above ground, the potential is mainly in smaller diameter pipes in applications such as the supply of high purity water to specialised industries such as semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, as well chemical dosage applications, especially acid lines, cleaning-in-place lines and refrigeration. Chemical drainage is another potential area depending on the chemical effluent and its temperature. This is an area in which stainless steel’s poor resistance to acids and chlorinated/brominated solutions could be challenged.  

 


Against a background of modest industrial expansion AMI forecasts growth of 6% per annum over the next five years, for plastic pipe systems in industrial applications. PE and PP will see the strongest growth.

 

“Industrial pipe systems – identifying and commercialising higher value niches” is a detailed multiclient report. For further information please contact Ewan Green at AMI Consulting on +44 117 924 9442 ejg@amiplastics.com.