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A gas explosion in Harlem earlier this year killed 8 and injured 48. Credit: NY Daily News
A gas explosion in Harlem earlier this year killed 8 and injured 48. Credit: NY Daily News

Gas Pipeline explosions in the United States have occurred at an alarming rate, especially in the past 10 years. Every other day, a gas leak destroys property, injures several people, and sometimes kills others. The decade’s most catastrophic explosions have claimed more than 135 lives, injuring 600 others and racking up a $2 billion bill from damages. The main culprit? The old, corroded gas pipelines that weave their way beneath America’s cities.

Cast iron and bare-steel pipes tend to catch most of the blame for the gas leak explosions, and rightfully so. Many of the pipes that feed natural gas to more than 67 million homes, schools, and businesses across the United States are over 100 years old. Cast-iron and unprotected steel are very susceptible to rust and corrosion, and the older the pipe is, the greater the likelihood of a leak. And when leaking gas from one of these pipes accumulates in a building or basement, it can explode with an earthquake-like force, instantly.  Considering that more than 85,000 miles of cast-iron and bare-steel gas pipes are still in operation, much of it concentrated in heavily-populated areas like New York, Boston, and Detroit, something needs to be done to prevent more devastating explosions.

But what? The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has been urging gas utilities to replace their aging pipes for decades. While replacement efforts are underway for many cities, they’ve proven to be slow-going and very expensive. From 2004-2013, 10,000 miles of cast-iron pipe, and 17,000 miles of bare-steel pipe have been replaced, but a daunting amount remains: 30,000 more miles of corroded cast-iron and 56,000 miles of bare-steel pipe still need replacement. Utility companies in New York plan to replace their aged pipes with a more corrosion-resistant material like plastic, at a rate of 65 miles of pipeline per year. The cost of this replacement is estimated to be about $215 million per year, with a grand total price tag of $10 billion to replace all of the aged pipes. Pensacola, Florida, has 4 times the national average of cast iron and bare-steel pipelines, and they plan to replace some 20 miles per year; if they follow that schedule, the work won’t be finished until 2067. At that point, more pipeline will have corroded and need to be replaced as well.

Corroded cast-iron gas pipe. Credit: San Diego.gov
Corroded cast-iron gas pipe. Credit: San Diego.gov

Considering the astronomical costs associated withe replacing these pipes, I can’t help but wonder where all that money is going to come from. As it stands, the United States alone faces a $6 trillion degraded-infrastructure deficit, and that deficit will only climb as time passes and more pipelines and other structures continue to corrode. What America really needs is an alternative method to pipeline replacement.

And luckily for us, there is an alternative, and it costs a whole lot less than replacement. Enter HJ3, The Strongest Name in Carbon Fiber™. Our CarbonSeal™ system has already successfully repaired several corroded gas pipelines, providing an extra 30 years of service life and a strength that’s 10 times greater than steel. By simply wrapping the corroded pipelines with our patented carbon fiber systems, we’ve helped several utility companies save millions of dollars and months of downtime. Since carbon fiber is corrosion-resistant, it requires no maintenance after being installed, and since it’s a flexible fabric, full excavation and pipe removal isn’t necessary. In burst tests, a CarbonSeal™-wrapped pipe successfully withstood 5200 PSI; typical pressures in a gas pipeline range from 200-1500 PSI. If HJ3’s carbon fiber systems are used to repair just a small fraction of the corroded pipelines in America, we can reduce the risk for explosion, potentially saving valuable lives and preventing catastrophic damage everywhere.

A gas pipe wrapped with HJ3's CarbonSeal system withstood a 5200 PSI blast test
A gas pipe wrapped with HJ3’s CarbonSeal system withstood a 5200 PSI blast test
natural gas pipeline external reinforcement
A natural gas pipeline is repaired with HJ3’s carbon fiber systems.

Want more information about HJ3’s carbon fiber systems and how they can save you 60-90% versus pipeline replacement? Contact us today at info@hj3.com.

Many thanks to USA Today, who inspired this blog and indirectly contributed information via their 9/24/14 article, “Danger Under Our Streets”.