Water utilities around the world manage water and sewerage infrastructure to provide the most essential of the essential services. In Australia, there are over 260,000 kilometres of water and sewerage pipes – enough to go around the earth more than six times. With many water and sewer pipes in Australia’s cities and towns approaching the end of their life, it can be very costly to renew them. Estimated costs of pipe replacement vary between $400/m (small pipes) to $4000/m (large pipes, urban), and is expected to quadruple by 2030. With limited budgets for asset replacements, the global water industry is required to do more with less; it needs to be more innovative to develop products to extend infrastructure “end of life”.
Pipe lining technology has the potential to substantially increase the service life of pipes by up to 50 years at a lower cost. Lining technologies can also mitigate risks and high costs associated with handling asbestos cement pipes. Over the past five years, liner products have been introduced to the market, tested individually, but not widely adopted by the industry. Lining has had limited market penetration which can be attributed to the limited demonstrable long-term performance, consistent standards and specifications.
This project also presents an innovation opportunity for Australia to incorporate smart technology such as non-invasive sensing into lining products. The global market opportunity for smart lining products is significant, estimated at more than $60 billion over the next 10 years, conservatively assuming linings defer 10 per cent of pipe renewals. Australia represents five per cent of this market so expanding market opportunities for Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) offer huge potential. In addition to this, other benefits include improved public and environmental health benefits by minimising pipe burst and leaks, lower costs of water to customers and the potential for SMEs to sell lining and sensing products to other applications or industries such as oil and gas and marine.
The research activities of the project are envisioned to improve the understanding of product performance, improve utility asset management and provide Australian SMEs and manufacturers with a globally competitive advantage through the development of know-how, services, standards and smart tools. The project partners will solve the problem of limited knowledge of long-term liner performance and take advantage of the innovation opportunity to incorporate smart technologies by achieving these technical deliverables:
- Develop industry standards and guidance documents
- Perform analytical tests for validation and testing of lining
- Field-test liners
- Develop and test multi-sensor robot prototypes
The tangible industry outcomes expected from this project are:
- Improvements to the design and application of smart lining products
- The commercialisation of intelligent sensing/robotic technologies
- Extending the life of critical infrastructure
- Market growth for Australian lining SMEs
- Enhanced Australian innovative linings knowledge and capacity
Project Future and Outcomes
The outcomes of the project will give Australian pipe lining applicators a competitive advantage to grow their market share through enhanced understanding of sector needs, and an opportunity to have an advisory role in the global market.
Additional revenue would come from maintenance and testing, preferred suppliers of tools, training and consultancy opportunities.
Applicators will develop an enhanced service for installation of liners that will lead to specifications for application and demand for the services of those involved in the project with demonstrable experience.
Utilities will benefit from infrastructure replacement savings (estimated $2 billion) from the reduced capital, renewal, maintenance and condition assessment costs, and cost avoidance due to asset failure.
Spillover benefits include improved public and environmental health benefits by minimising pipe burst/leaks, lower costs of water to consumers, and SMEs selling lining and sensing products to other applications or industries that use pipes such as oil and gas and marine.
Most lining product components are manufactured overseas and assembled into solutions by Australian SME applicators for supply to utilities. Australian water utilities face barriers in broadly adopting liners because of a lack of knowledge of lining materials, design, and long-term performance. There is also an innovation opportunity for Australia to incorporate smart technology such as non-invasive sensing into lining products.
The project will position Australia as a global leader in smart water infrastructure through achieving:
- Improved industry confidence in the technology by independent validation of liner product
- Acceptance of cost-effective, high-performance product that extends asset life
- Development of smart tools for decision making -Increased applicator know-how and capability
- Increased access for Australian SMEs to international industry networks to export advanced knowledge-based services
- A highly skilled graduate qualified STEM workforce
- Improved workplace health and safety through a reduced need to handle asbestos pipe