More than 90% of the pipes installed in the US is made of plastic with more than 99% of that being polyethylene.
Even though the material offers superior performance, in terms of chemical resistance, the pipes have to be replaced as soon as they are damaged.
Thanks to a new technology developed by Applied Nanotech for the Northeast Gas Association, the polyethylene pipes should soon be able to self-heal.
The company's development contract with NGA, which ends in January 2014, should see the development of two types of medium and high density polyethylene pipes before moving on to a program of industrialisation and commercialisation of the concept.
This work is expected to result in a new generation of plastic pipes that will revolutionize the way that the gas industry builds, operates, maintains and manages its gas distribution systems.