Steel District Heating System at Brunel University Replaced with Flexenergy Polybutene System

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After many years of a leaking hot water heating distribution system across the Brunel University campus, the decision was made to replace it with an alternative flexible welded thermoplastic system from Flexenergy.

Brunel is an educational campus located in North West London and takes its name for one of the greatest engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  This is rather apt as it was an engineering decision that determined the Flexenergy pipework system as the best solution for their needs.

The original steel main and services that distributed hot water across the campus to heat lecture theatres and accommodation block had been prone to leakage.  Without zonal valve control the network was inefficient and to correct meant a complete shut and drain down of the entire system for the leaks to be identified and repaired.

With the primary circuit temperatures of 85°C (feed) and 65°C (return) it was an ideal application for a polybutene (PB) pipeline system.   PB offered a flexible solution to manoeuvre between the existing steel distribution pipeline (this still need to be operational throughout the installation of the new system) and other services to the numerous buildings which included a Hotel and student accommodation blocks.

The new PB system supplied by Flexenergy incorporated

  • differing pipe sizes 75mm through to 160mm.
  • change of direction fabrications that also incorporated building entry risers (these fabrications were made in the factory and speeded up the installation process on site by minimising the number of cuts and joints for the contractor).
  • A range of V-Flex pre-insulated valves to enable the Brunel facilities team in the future to isolate sections of the system for maintenance without the need to shut down the whole heating circuit.

The mains and services were all welded using either butt fusion or electrofusion, thus creating a fully welded pipeline from boiler exit to building entry. This ensures the longevity and the flexibility that thermoplastic pipelines deliver.

Sandy Fairley, Sales Director of Flexenergy said of the Brunel installation

“Brunel, the engineer was ahead of the game and was a great adopter of new methods and techniques when undertaking his ambitious builds, it’s great to see our PB solution being used in the same vein to replace traditional materials at this pillar of education”

Electrofusion of PB pipes Brunel heating circuit