Plastic, Polyethylene, or PE?

Question: Why do your answers to questions about plastic pipe always identify the pipe as “polyethylene pipe (PE)”?

Answer: Most people in the industry refer to polyethylene gas pipe as “plastic” pipe. This is fine, but I’ve always preferred to make specific reference to it as polyethylene (PE) pipe.

There are different types of plastic pipe. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) piping is usually used for sewers and water main/service lines. Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) piping was installed for gas distribution services from the 1950s through the early 1970s. This material was susceptible to brittle cracking, resulting in gas leakage. Most of it has been replaced with PE pipe.

PE piping is the most widely used plastic piping material for the distribution of natural gas (over 90%) because of its unique thermoplastic properties: high impact strength, heat fusibility, crack propagation resistance, and the ability to be squeezed safely.

Tip: PE pipe accepted for fuel gas piping is covered by ASTM D 2513 requirements.


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