Prefabrication and Innovative Design Creates Warm Feeling in Wales

The scheduled replacement of a heating system integral to a natural gas offtake in Wales has been delivered with a significant cost reduction thanks to an innovative design by Flexenergy and the off-site prefabrication of most of the pipework.

Flexenergy specialises in the supply and fabrication of pre-insulated pipe for heating, hot water and cooling systems and was called in by contractors Fowler Gas for technical, onsite support and assistance in replacing the heating main at Wales & West Utilities’ North Wales natural gas offtake in Wrexham. The use of heat exchangers warms the natural gas as it reaches the offtake so it can be effectively odourised and distributed to heat homes and power businesses right across North Wales.

Each of the four heat exchangers on site needed to be served with a flow and return on each side of the exchanger to allow for balancing and Flexenergy’s Flexalen 600 pre-insulated pipe was selected for its thermal properties, eco credentials and jointing integrity.

Using an innovative design, Flexenergy was able to reduce the overall length of pipe required for the flow and returns to each heat exchanger by prefabricating risers with tees, which could then be connected to redesigned pipework on the other side of each exchanger. This effectively removed four runs compared to the previous design – the equivalent of 30m of pipe. The prefabricated heat system was then connected to the new boiler room.

In total, 185m of Flexalen 600 pipe was installed, ranging in size from 32mm to 160mm diameter. The material was selected for the integrity of its fusion welded joints.

“As a result of the design innovations and our ability to prefabricate, we were able to reduce the number of joints required on site from 70 to just 13, with a consequent reduction in installation time from three weeks to just three days,” says Andy Watts of Flexenergy.

Fowler Gas were enthused by the speed and ease of installation and having been trained on the jointing are in the process of becoming a preferred installer for future Flexalen 600 projects.

“The combination of labour saving and reduced pipe runs meant we were able to deliver the project at around 50% of the original anticipated cost.”

Wales & West Utilities System Operations Manager Bethan Winter added: “Our offtake in Wrexham is essential to keep the gas flowing to heat homes and power businesses right across North Wales. We appreciate the support of Flexenergy and Fowler Gas to deliver this work safely, efficiently and at a value for money price, helping us deliver for the communities we serve.”