Feasibility of Using Plastic Pipe for Ethanol Low Stress Lines
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Feasibility of Using Plastic Pipe for Ethanol Low Stress Lines

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Feasibility of Using Plastic Pipe for Ethanol Gathering
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      Final Report
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    • Abstract:
      This USDOT PHMSA sponsored research project addressed and successfully determined the initial feasibility of using new materials, both polymeric and composites, as low-cost alternatives to specially designed metallic gathering pipelines. The project focused on the potential integrity effects of using such polymer based pipes when used with typical feed stocks (for ethanol production) at common temperatures and pressures. The work also included designing an ethanol pipe system for gathering to determine both engineering and economic feasibility of polymer pipe system use. Finally, the research effort provided the direction for subsequent relevant research in this area as well as a foundation for developing a program to evaluate future biofuels. To ensure relevancy, an industry based steering committee was formed and consulted throughout the effort. This was comprised of organizations such as the Renewable Fuels Association, Archer Daniels Midland, Poet, Illinois Corn Growers Association, and USDOT PHMSA representation. Ethanol production world-wide was studied, including first generation and second generation ethanol production. First generation corn ethanol production provided a typical configuration for ethanol plant spacing and distance from a clean-up or transportation hub, as well as typical requirements for gathering pipeline systems. A summary list of all known feedstocks was compiled for both domestic and non-U.S. ethanol is included in this report. Current ethanol transportation methods were studied and supplemented with information from the project steering committee. Most large corn farms are between 10 to 15 miles from an ethanol plant. From the production centers, about 60 percent of ethanol is shipped by rail, 30% by truck and 10% by barges. There is only one recently commissioned U.S. steel pipeline that is transporting fuel grade ethanol blended with gasoline. A material compatibility analysis was performed requiring chemical analysis of Ethanol. An industry survey was developed to capture this information, as well as operational parameters in ethanol production. The largest constituent identified was the denaturing agent, usually gasoline, which is added prior to shipping. The survey, literature review, and detailed analysis of Ethanol constituents and impurities are included in the report. The project steering committee requested GTI focus on the bulk thermoplastic pipe for the materials selection and compatibility analysis. However, a small work effort was completed to list out all the current joining practices and with which thermoplastic resins that can and are being used today. The advantages and disadvantages of all joining methods were studied in detail and summarized. All commercially available thermoplastic, composite, and fiberglass reinforced pipe products were investigated for chemical compatibility with ethanol and solvents in general, and their subsequent fundamental chemistry reviewed. This included researching the literature and contacting the relevant material manufacturers. Chemistry, structure, and availability (in pipe form) were all researched and summarized.
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