Air-gaps in pipe joints insulated with PUR half-shells
Paper in proceeding, 2004

Prefabricated half-shells as thermal insulation in pipeline joints come with obvious advantages. Most importantly, the PUR insulation can be optimised in the factory, there is no need for handling chemicals in the field and the jointing procedure is simplified. However, the technique has never become very popular in Sweden. One reason for this is the risk of air-gaps between the half-shells and the pipe ends. Air-gaps may cause an excessive radial heat flow leading to overheating and premature ageing of the joint casing and the shrink seals. It has also been shown that voids in the joint insulation may promote the accumulation of water in the joint when leaks are present in the shrink seals. Furthermore, air-gaps due to half-shells will expose the medium pipe to permeating water and the risk for corrosion. The increase in temperature on the casing pipe caused by heat flow through an air-gap is treated analytically based on previous laboratory experiments. The presence of air-gaps was confirmed at excavation of a pipeline after nine years of service, where air-gaps with an approximate width of 4 mm were observed between the half-shells and the pipe ends on both sides of the joints. Previous tests undertaken by joint manufacturers have shown that air-gaps may open up as the half-shells contract along with the joint casing when this cools down after shrinkage. When the pipeline is heated to service temperature, the gaps may close. However, measurements on various types of district heating pipe PUR foams indicate a tendency of the foam to shrink in the axial direction when aged in high temperatures.


polyurethane (PUR)


Pipe joint


Stefan Forsaeus Nilsson

Sven-Erik Sällberg

9th International Symposium on District Heating and Cooling

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Infrastructure Engineering

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