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Monarch of the Seas

Polybutene pipe installation really is plain sailing.

In today's competitive market, shipbuilding companies are continuously in search of new materials and systems that will extend the service life of their ships, reduce maintenance costs and improve passenger accommodation quality on board. As a result, high quality plastics such as Polybutene-1 (PB-1) are proving increasingly popular for use in onboard piping systems due to their ease and speed of installation, long service life and low weight.

PB-1 case study provided by courtesy of GF Piping Systems.
 


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Polybutene pipe installations benefit cruise liners.

During a project to renovate the drinking water system on cruise liner Monarch of the Seas, Intec-Maritime Offshore Services evaluated the needs of the project and specified PB-1 System, INSTAFLEX. This system, marketed by GF Piping Systems, was ideally suited offering many advantages for replacement of the corroded copper pipework. Of particular interest to Intec-Maritime was that PB-1 pipes could be installed while a ship is at sea.

Electrofusion

This was possible due to the 'failsafe' installation technique, electrofusion, that was used to install pipes. The fusion causes no smoke, no sparks, no open flames and generates very little heat, which makes the process very safe. Pipes can also be jointed in situ since the equipment required is small and portable, requiring only an electricity source. This process is completely silent, smokeless and very safe.

Renovation with no lost time

As a result, Intec-Maritime was able to carry out the renovation during a voyage from Miami to Los Angeles. Intec-Maritime was also impressed by PB-l's resistance to cracking and corrosion, an important consideration for aggressive saltwater environments like the sea. With an operational lifetime design in excess of 50 years, Intec was convinced that PB-1 would meet the requirements of the project; to reduce maintenance costs, to extend the service life of the ship, and to improve accommodation quality. Although electrofusion welding can be carried out aboard a ship, it often proves more cost-effective for pre-fabricated sections of an installation to be produced by the pipe and fittings supplier and transported to site in coiled units. This was a key advantage for Kverner Masa Yards in Helsinki during the construction of the flagship of the Carnival Cruise Line, the 'Carnival Miracle'.

Off-site prefabrication saves time and cost

As PB-1 is very light weight, a complete piping system weighs approximately five times less than more traditional materials such as copper, it is very easy to transport across long distances in coils and then manoeuvre on board a ship. Several kilometres of PB-1 pipe for the Carnival Miracle were pre-fabricated off-site and included the required T-joints to facilitate cabin connections. This resulted in a reduced assembly time for the entire project, saving considerable time and cost.

Meeting International standards

For both projects it was important that all components used in the PB-1 piping Systems are manufactured according to ISO 9001/14001 and are tested for shipbuilding using the latest international Standards of Classification societies. These include GL, DNV BV, LR and RINA. In addition, pipes and fittings made from PB-1 are odourless and tasteless and meet the stringent 'contact with food' approvals, making it ideally suited for drinking water applications aboard ships.

Superior performance and durability

This comprehensive range of benefits, combined with high levels of performance and durability, means that PB-1 is fast becoming the material of choice for an increasing number of shipbuilding projects. This has been the case particularly in shipbuilding as the market becomes more aware of the advantages of using plastics. To be able to carry out work at sea is a significant bonus and one that very few other materials can offer.

Text edited from an article published in Plumbing, Heating and Air Movement News.

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Polybutene-1 is often referred to as Polybutene, Polybutylene, PB-1 or PB.

Polybutene-1 is not sold by PBPSA members for use in pipe applications intended for use in North America, and those parties require their customers or distributors not to sell products made from PB-1 into pipe applications for North America.