The Polymer Technology Laboratory, first accredited laboratory in Spain for determining the Strain Hardening in polyethylene pipe grades

The recent development of ultra-resistant polyethylene grades for water and gas conduction (PE100RC) represents a significant breakthrough for the industry due to a substantial improvement in the resistance of these new materials to slow crack growth, which is the primary long-term failure mode of polyethylene pipes during service.

Due to the clear improvement in strength of these new materials, they will not require a sandbed during their installation process, which significantly reduces both the cost and environmental disruption caused by their installation. The regulations for polyethylene piping systems for the supply of gaseous fuels contained in UNE-EN 1555-1:2022 were recently reviewed and already include this new category of material (PE100RC).

These PE100RC materials must fulfill strict requirements, primarily regarding their resistance to slow crack growth. In this sense, a series of tests must be performed directly on these resins to certify their suitability for plastic pipes for water and gaseous fuel systems. These tests, all of which are carried out by LATEP, are the Strain Hardening (ISO 18488); the Crack Round Bar Test (ISO 18489) and the Accelerated Full Notch Creep Test (ISO 16770). There is currently no other laboratory in Spain or its surrounding countries capable of doing these kinds of tests, making LATEP an international reference laboratory.

Moreover, since April, LATEP has been accredited by ENAC (National Accreditation Entity) for the determination of the Strain Hardening modulus and its relationship with resistance to slow crack growth resistance (ISO 18488). This accreditation represents an important quality leap for the laboratory to demonstrate its technical competence to carry out these tests. Thus, the laboratory’s capability to perform the other proposed tests, such as the Crack Round Bar and the Accelerated Full Notch Creep tests, situates LATEP as one of the current reference laboratories for the characterization and certification of these resins, reaching the highest level of excellence and quality since its establishment at the Rey Juan Carlos University in 2004.