Fractographic study of high-density polyethylene pipe

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Abstract

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe is now being used as an alternative to medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) for gas, water, sewage and waste-water distribution systems. Laboratory tests appear to show that HDPE is more able to suppress rapid crack propagation (RCP), whilst remaining sufficient resistance under the operational circumstances that lead to the type of slow crack growth observed in service failures. There have been many fractographic studies on MDPE pipe materials, actual pipe and fittings, but little on HDPE. A fractographic study of the type of HDPE pipe in current production has been undertaken. For these tests, whole pipe sections were subjected to either static or dynamic internal (water) pressurization fatigue loading. Failure mechanisms are discussed based on the fracture morphologies resulting from these tests. A further argument for good resistance of HDPE pipe to RCP is suggested.

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