District heating is a common way of delivering low-carbon heating to various buildings from local energy sources. Developing a safe and reliable heating network involves intelligent engineering, quality and professional installation.
Local and district heating networks
Every network is unique, and various stakeholders are involved in the design, installation and operation of a district heating scheme. The installation takes place in the public domain and is expected to be smooth and safe. Comfort, reliability and energy performance are key during the operational phase of the network.
Designing a heating network
Designing a safe and reliable heating network starts with the specific heating demand and available energy sources, followed by smart engineering and the best, cost-efficient materials.
Heating demand varies during the course of the day, and obviously between seasons. This can be catered for by increasing the dimensioning of the network, higher supply temperature or a larger pump capacity.
Material choice also has a profound effect on the network design. Plastics are known for their smooth inner surface, flexibility and self-compensating behaviour. For distribution networks, this results in a very sophisticated network design with fewer components and faster installation.
District heating networks typically have a high CAPEX, low OPEX investment profile. This means keeping initial costs under control is key. Extremely flexible pipes and a high degree of project-specific prefabrication result in a massive reduction in installation time, costs and risks.
Advantages of plastic pipes
Performance, flexibility and durability are key to the success of all infrastructural projects. When it comes to durability, the network should be able to deal with varying temperatures, soil movements and pressure from groundwater. It must also deliver excellent insulation performance and minimal pressure losses.
With a more than 40-year track record across a wide variety of heating applications, plastic pipe systems are very much up to this task. In distribution networks in particular, and within the temperature limits set by EN15632 (80 ˚C continuous and 95 ˚C peak), the benefits of plastics make them an obvious choice.
Maintenance and service life
Plastic pipes have the distinct advantage that they do not corrode and suffer from very limited fouling. This means there is no need for maintenance, and a long lifespan is guaranteed within the set temperature range. Using only plastic fusion-welded fittings results in a permanent, corrosion free-network.
Professional, fully enclosed heat shrunk insulation sockets mitigate the risk of water ingress and insulation foam degradation.
The expected lifespan of plastic pipes is a direct function of the operating temperature. EN15632 guarantees a minimum lifespan of 30 years at 80 ˚C continuous and 95 ˚C peak temperature.
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