Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional and Advanced High-Density Polyethylene Pipe in Highway Drainage Applications

There is growing recognition for the need to integrate sustainability evaluation in the new construction or repair of highway drainage systems. Life cycle assessment offers a means of integrating environmental performance of pipe systems alongside of technical performance evaluation. The authors examine novel materials under development for plastic pipe systems used for highway drainage that may be competitive with more traditional materials such as ductile iron and concrete. A potential new class of nanocomposite plastic pipe may further improve environmental performance relative to neat plastic pipe, while fulfilling the required engineering properties. The authors examine the life cycle environmental performance of a 6% nanoclay high-density polyethylene (HDPE) composite that uses 44% secondary (recycled) HDPE and 50% primary (virgin) HDPE for select environmental metrics. They developed life cycle inventory modules for the nanoclay composite and compare its environmental performance to a conventional HDPE drainage pipe for the life cycle environmental metrics, global warming and non-renewable energy. They considered the life cycle stages production, fabrication, installation and all transportation steps along the production chain. Results from this research indicate that the nanocomposite HDPE pipe reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions and energy demand by 25% and 39%, respectively, when compared to conventional HDPE pipe.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 17p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 91st Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01367751
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 12-4091
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Feb 8 2012 5:21PM