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Publication numberUS3484509 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 16, 1969
Filing dateMar 16, 1967
Priority dateMay 10, 1963
Publication numberUS 3484509 A, US 3484509A, US-A-3484509, US3484509 A, US3484509A
InventorsKeller James P
Original AssigneeRensulate Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Insulated underground conduit
US 3484509 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec. 16, 1969 J. P. KELLER INSULATED UNDERGROUND GONDUIT 2 Sheets-Sheet l original Filed May 10, 196s mm mm. MK m w 9 s 4 u u n 2J u w 1 u J. /Vx f\ O Q 1.1 O ILAl n FIL I nl.. o o o Q o o o .S .J8 n w B 4 n 0 3 .fdo .w .s 4o /o n@ o a o o w/. l lla 0./ w/. 4 rau @JL .fao o fw O 4 A o o o o Jo v k 4v. .Lm/u f LM HJ-ll r l@ s -.-21m C 5 x/ -6 u .L 1 A.

Dec. 16, 1969 J, P, KELLER 3,484,509

INSULATED UNDERGROUND CONDUIT original med May 1o, 196s 2 sheets-sheet a V- IOC INvENroR, JAA/FSKQMZ United States Patent O 3,484,509 INSULATED UNDERGROUND CONDUIT James P. Keller, Springfield, Va., assigner to Rensulate Corporation, Beltsville, Md., a corporation of Maryland Original application May 10, 1963, Ser. No. 279,492, now

Patent N o. 3,231,947. Divided and this application Mar.

16, 1967, Ser. No. 649,373

Int. Cl. B29d 31/00 U.S. Cl. 264-45 1 'Claim ABSTRACT F THE DISCLOSURE A method is disclosed for insulating underground conduit whereby a self expanding and curing plastic foam is poured into a trench and allowed to expand and surround the pipe. The cured foam functions as an insulation, but is sufficiently resilient to expand and contract with the conduit, in response to temperature changes, without darnage. Additionally, a method for supporting underground conduit is disclosed whereby the above mentioned foam also serves as the sole support means for the conduit in the trench.

This is a divisional of application Ser. No. 279,492 filed May 10, 1963, now Patent No. 3,231,947.

This invention relates to improvements in insulated underground conduits and to apparatus for and methods of producing same.

In the art of insulating underground pipes or other conduits for hot or cold fluids it has been heretofore wellknown to support the pipe in a trench in spaced relation from the bottom and sidewalls of the trench, and to pour insulating concrete or other conventional insulating masses in the trench and around the pipe. Customarily such insulating concretes have been comprised of an insulatingaggregate such as expanded vermiculite together with a binder which generally consists of water settable cement, as for instance portland cement. It has generally been necessary to provide a parting coating or Wrapping around the pipe in order to prevent adherence to it of the insulating concrete such as would result in damage to the concrete due to the thermal expansion and contraction of the pipe, the concrete normally having a different rate of expansion and contraction and normally being of insufficient tensile strength to resist cracking when the pipe expands in the event it should adhere to the pipe. Due to the comparatively long time required for setting or curing of the concrete it has been necessary to embed supports within the molds and in the insulating concrete itself to support the pipe both during the period of setting of the concrete while adjoining sections are being poured and also for subsequent expansion and contraction within the concrete insulation material. The backfilling of the trenches has been necessarily delayed until after the concrete or insulating concrete has been properly cured. It is necessary to await drying out of mixing Water before the concrete reaches its maximum insulating eiciency.

All of this has extended both the time and the cost required for the application of insulating concrete to pipes and the like, and in addition in extremely cold climates it has been nece'ssary either to cease operations when the weather is below freezing or to take difficult and expensive measures to prevent freezing of the insulating concrete.

Further, due to the inability of such prior insulating material to flex without breaking or cracking, it has been necessary to space same away from the pipe at expansion bends or loops in order to allow room for the pipe itself to flex Without breaking the insulation.

The present invention has been conceived with the foregoing in mind and it is accordingly a primary object of ICC the invention to provide an underground insulated pipe structure in which the pipe is embedded or encompassed within a monolithic sheath of stify resilient plastic foam material having suflicient elasticity that it may be poured around the pipe in direct intimate contact therewith and may even adhere thereto, but will nevertheless be capable of thermal expansion and contraction with the pipe without damage, while affording a greatly improved insulating ability as well as an increased degree of impermeability to water or moisture as contrasted to prior known insulating materials.

It has been found that a suitable foamed-in-place self expanding and self curing plastic foam material such as a polyurethane foam, after being poured, and expanded around the pipe, cures itself within a matter of minutes to permit immediate maximum efficiency and rapid removal and reuse of the mold forms or boards for the pouring of a further section of sheathing around the pipe and to permit immediate backfilling of the trench over the section just poured.

The material immediately after setting also incorporates sucient strength to provide the sole support for the' pipe enclosed within it without the necessity for any rigid inserts or suspension means for this purpose. Moreover, the resilient flexibility of the material is such as to permit its being poured directly around and in intimate Contact with the expansion ends or loops of the pipe and to flex with these without damage and without having to be spaced from these flexing sections of the pipe as heretofore in order to avoid interference with their movement.

The invention further contemplates the provision of a novel and economical method of insulating the underground pipes by the pouring of a flowable self expanding and curing plastic foam into a trench around the pipe. allowing it to expand and to encompass and directly contact the pipe and then to cure itself.

In this application and as exemplified in the accompanying drawings I have disclosed only the preferred mode of carrying out the invention, though it will be readily appreciated that the invention is capable of other and different embodiments both as to the structure and the method without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

In the accompanying drawings:

FIGURE l represents a plan view of an open trench containing a plurality of pipes about which a section of insulation has been molded in accordance with the invention, the mold still being in place.

FIGURE 2 is a vertical cross section on the line 2 2 of FIGURE l.

FIGURE 3 is a vertical section through the completed insulated pipe structure of the invention after curing of the insulation and removal of the mold.

FIGURE 4 is a section on the line `4 4 of FIGURE 1 illustrating the manner in which the side panels of the mold assembly are removably positioned in the bottom of the trench, and

FIGUR-E 5 is a vertical section showing the manner in which the insulating material in accordance with the invention encompasses and intimately contacts an exp-ansion bend or joint in the pipe for flexing therewith incident to thermal expansion and contraction of the pipe.

Referring now in detail to the accompanying drawings and referring first to FIGURES 1 and 2 there is illustrated in these la plurality of metal pipes 10, 11, 12 and 13, extending adjacent the bottom of a trench :but in spaced relation to both the sides and bottom of the trench. It Will be understood that the pipes will be supported above the bottom of the trench by jacks, blocks or other suitable means which will neither be enclosed within the forms nor incorporated in the completed insulating structure,

but ratherwill be located in advance of the mold. In other words, the pipes will normally be unsupported within the` form itself.

These pipes 10 to 13, inclusive, will normally be of metal such as rigid iron or steel and frequently will extend for hundreds of feet so that they will normally expand or contract to a very considerable extent responsive to changes in their temperature. Accordingly, as shown in FIGURE 5 of the drawings, it will be customary to provide some suitable expansion means such as the expansion bend or loop therein shown. As is customary in the art, normally this expansion bend will include at least one section A extending transversely to the adjoining portions 10B and 10C, respectively, of the pipe for angular displacement responsive to thermal expansion and contraction of the pipe.

In order to dispose the foam around the pipes as shown in FIGURES 1 and 2, it has been found desirable to provide around the pipes a composite mold structure comprised for the most part of readily removable and replaceable sections arranged so that immediately after the pouring and curing of a given section or length of insulating material the mold may be removed and replaced along an immediately adjoining length of pipe.

Thus the form, generally designated 15, is preferably adapted to be placed at successive positions along the length of the pipes so that sections of the insulation may be successively molded along the entire lengths of the pipes 10 through 13.

The mold itself is preferably comprised of a pair of normally vertical parallel side boards or panels 17 and 18, respectively, of any rigid material such as wood, cornposition board, plywood or metal. These are normally placed on edge in the bottom of the trench at the desired space apart and each is removably maintained in this position by a pair or more of stakes such as 19 of FIGURE 4, having their pointed lower ends 20 driven into the ground and having slidable collars 21 thereon, each supporting a holding finger 21A which depends inside of the form for holding the panels against the stakes. Stops 21B and 21C on the stakes limit the sliding movement of the collars.

In order to prevent direct contact of the Imolded insulating material with the bottom of the trench, as well as to provide a glazed moisture impervious smooth surface or skin on the molded sheath of insulating material, it has been found desirable to line the interior of the mold thus formed with a smooth sheet of ilexible plastic material 22 such as polyethylene. This material will be arranged to extend throughout the entire length of the mold structure. It rests on the bottom of the trench to define the bottom of the mold, with its outer lateral edges extending up the inside wall dened by the side panels 17 and 18 and folded outwardly over the upper edges of these panels, as best shown in FIGURE 2.

For the purpose of confining the molded material within the mold so that during its expansion it will penetrate completely between the pipes 10 through 13 and into the various corners without leaving any undesirable voids, there is provided `a cover or lid 25 which is supported preferably at any of various desired levels by means of the adjustable brackets 26 as shown. The mold cover 25 will normally alord a platform on which workmen will stand while injecting the plastic foam into the interior of the mold, and the weight of the workmen will tend to maintain the lid held down in place against the upward expanding pressure of the expanding material. Each bracket 26 is of inverted U-shape, having its depending legs formed with relatively spaced horizontally registering pairs of perforations or openings 31 through any of which may be passed the pin 32 adapted to extend across the upper edge of the panel to adjustably position the bracket thereon. At its depending inner end, the innermost leg 28 is provided with a horizontally directed ledge 34, on which the mold lid or cover 25 is supported.

It is desirable further to interconnect the upper edge of the side panels 17 and 18 at intervals, preferably by ad-' justable tie rods such as shown in which each such tie rod includes relatively telescopically connected members 36 and 38 respectively formed with the depending downwardly turned hook portions 36', 38 respectively depending along the outside of the panels 17 and 18- to prevent their relative spreading. These are adjustably interconnected by means of the pin 40 adapted for selective positioning through any of the series of bores 42 through the tubular member 36 and a corresponding transverse bore (not shown) through the member 38.

Not only is the mold interior lined with polyethylene or other smooth surface plastic along its bottom and sides. In addition the under surface of the lid 2S also is provided with a lining consisting of a sheet 44 of polyethylene plastic adhesively or otherwise secured thereto.

For facilitating the injection of the foaming-in-place plastic material into the mold interior it is desirable to provide the lid 2S with a series of openings 46 disposed at suitable intervals along its length and of suicient diameter to snugly receive the injection nozzle 48 leading from and communicating with a suitable supply of the material and/or its ingredients. The nozzle 48 may be inserted progressively in different openings 46 along the length of the mold to fill it from one end to the other. The holes 46 which are not in use permit the escape of air from the mold and also permit observation of the extent to which the mold is lled at any given time. Since the openings above those portions of the molds which have,

been filled with material will in many instances permit escape of the material during its expansion, the workmen will normally progressively plug these openings as they proceed with the filling operation in a direction lengthwise of the mold.

The mold normally needs no covers or obstructing means at its ends. Normally one of the longitudinal ends of the mold will be blocked by a section of insulation just poured and expanded or, in the case of the rst poured section, will be blocked by a building wall through which the pipes emerge. The other or free end of the mold may be left open. While a certain amount of the expanding plastic foam will be extruded from this end, the viscosity of the material is normally such that the mold is nevertheless completely filled without the formation of any substantial voids or cavities and this extruded free end` portion is subsequently incorporated in the next section of insulating material yto be poured and molded.

Any of various foaming-in-place and self` curing plastic foams or foam compositions may be employed in practicing the invention, so long as the resulting foam insulation product has the requisite insulating ability or characteristic, together with sufficient qualities of elasticity or stretchability and flexibility to enable it to expand and contract with the pipes and to deform with any expansion loops or bends enclosed therein without damage. The preferred type of foam for this purpose is a conventional polyurethane foam. Such a foam, or rather the ingredients therefor, are commercially available under the trade name Isofoam through Isocyanate Products, Inc. of Wilmington, Delaware, This is a two-component rigid urethane foam produced by a two step chemical reaction. The rst step involves the reaction of a propylene oxide adduct of sorbitol with toluene di-isocyanate. The second step is to react the product of the first reaction with a resin blend of additional sorbitol, catalyst and appropriate blowing agent such as freon gas, which gas is well-known and may be one of a group of fluorochloromethane gases. The actual mixing of the ingredients or components for carrying out the said second step generally occurs in the nozzle 48 just prior to ejection of the mixed ingredients or components therefrom, the nozzle 48 being any suitable mixing nozzle. A suitable nozzle for the purpose is disclosed in the Baur Patent 2,739,843 of Mar. 27, 1956.

The resulting reaction of the components, which occurs after they are extruded from the nozzle 48 and into the mold cavity, is exothermic in nature so that the freon orl other blowing agent is caused to vaporze and expand to produce the expanded foam product.

After the mold has been completely filled it is only a matter of minutes normally before the plastic material will have fully expanded and cured, following which the mold may be disassembled and moved to a new location for pouring another section, leaving only the polyethylene sheet 22 in position.

The use of polyethylene as a lining for the mold has an important and multiple advantage, since due to its extremely fine structure and exceedingly smooth imporous surface, it constitutes one of the few substances to which the molded material will not adhere. Therefore, it functions as an effective parting material to `facilitate the ready removal of the mold cover or lid 25. In addition, however, this extremely smooth surface of the polyethylene sheet 44 on the lid and of the sheet 22 on the sides and bottom of the mold results in the formation over the entire outer surface of the molded insulation block or body of a glazed skin or surface which is extremely impervious to penetration by moisture either in the form of liquid or vapor which might, if permitted to enter the material, partially destroy its insulating qualities.

After the removable portions of the mold have been removed it has been found desirable to fold the lateral edges of the polyethylene sheet 22 inwardly in overlapping relation across the top of the completed structure and to seal these overlapping portions together by a suitable cement or waterproof mastic designated by the numeral 49 in FIGURE 3.

Thus the completed structure as shown in cross section in FIGURE 3 will comprise, in addition to the pipes, a completely monolithic sheath or body 55 of expanded and cured plastic `foam which completely encompasses the several pipes 10, 11, 12 and 13 in direct and intimate contact with each said pipe, the cured foam being sufficiently resilient to expand and contract with the pipes. The unicellular structure of such a foam renders it resistant to moisture penetration even though its skin is breached. However, its resistance to penetration even of moisture vapor is greatly increased both by its smooth glazed skin as well as by the sheet of polyethylene 22 which immediately overlies the sarne.

While being of sufficient resiliency or flexibility as well as elasticity to permit expansion and contraction with the pipes without cracking or otherwise damaging the insulating foam, the foam is nevertheless of sufficient strength to constitute the sole support `for the pipe and it is unnecessary to provide separate inserts either for permitting expansion and contraction of the pipe or for supporting it.

Moreover, as is clearly shown in FIGURE 5, the pipe may be provided at suitable intervals with suitable expansion joints or bends such as shown including at least one relatively transversely extending section disposed between and connected to the longitudinally extending pipe sections B and 10C, respectively, on either side thereof whereby the longitudinal expansion and contraction of the sections 10B and 10C will result in relative angular displacement of the transverse section 10A to accommodate this expansion and contraction. By virtue of the stiffly resilient nature of the material forming the insulating sheath 50 it will be readily apparent that it may also be provided with a transversely disposed portion 50A coextensive with the transverse pipe section 10A and in intimate direct contact therewith at all points as with the remaining sections of pipe. Notwithstanding this the flexibility of the insulating material will permit ready deformation of the section 50A together with the pipe bend or section 10A without in any way crackling, damaging or otherwise impairing the insulation or its function.

It will be readily apparent from the above that I have conceived of an insulated pipe structure in which the insulation may have far greater insulating qualities than heretofore and yet which does not require the application of any winding or parting between it and the pipe to which it is applied due to its ability to expand and contract with the pipe. Moreover, such material is of an inert nature and not subject to chemical decomposition. It may be applied without regard to the outside temperatures since the exothermic reaction involved during its application provides sufficient heat for its proper curing, even at below freezing temperatures, as well as for the expansion of its blowing agent. The fact that it cures within a matter of minutes permits prompt backfilling of the trench, as the application of the material progresses, as well as rapid formation of successive molded sections of material. It is thus made possible to form an insulated conduit structure in accordance with the invention at a rate which is a multiple of that normally achievable by conventional methods.

Having thus described my invention, I claim:

1. The method of supporting and insulating an underground pipe in situ comprising the steps of:

(l) positioning said pipe in a trench in the earth,

(2) supporting said pipe with a plurality of supports such that said pipe is in spaced relation from the sides andbottom of said trench,

(3) placing in said trench a mold defining a volume which radially surrounds a segment of said pipe such that said supports are unenclosed by said volume,

(4) lining said mold around said volume with a smooth surfaced polyethylene plastic to;

(i) function as a parting material and (ii) form a glazed moisture impermeable skin on the exterior of said foam, and

(5) pouring a flowable self expanding and curing polyurethane foam which is sufficiently resilient and stretchable for thermal expansion and contraction with the pipe into said mold,

(6) allowing it to self expand to a level to substantially fill said volume,

(7) allowing said foam to set until it is substantially rigid,

(8) and then,

(i) folding said polyethylene plastic over the exposed portion of said foam, and

(ii) sealing the same whereby to provide a polyethylene plastic protective layer surrounding said foam.

(9) and then (i) removing and repositioning said supports and said mold to repeat said pouring operation.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,744,102 l/ 1930 Burke 264-35 1,910,594 4/1933 De La vMare 264-35 2,707,984 4/ 1955 Goff 264-35 2,857,931 10/1958 Lawton 264-45 3,003,217 10/ 1961 Gerwick 249-93 JULIUS FROME, Primary Examiner LEON GARRETT, Assistant Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1744102 *Sep 12, 1925Jan 21, 1930Brown CoMethod of installing an underground conduit system
US1910594 *May 13, 1929May 23, 1933La Mare Thomas DeSystem for constructing pipe
US2707984 *Jun 26, 1952May 10, 1955Zonolite CompanyMethod of insulating underground pipe
US2857931 *Mar 24, 1955Oct 28, 1958R W Mfg CoInsulated pipe and method of making the same
US3003217 *Feb 25, 1957Oct 10, 1961Ben C Gerwick IncApparatus for manufacturing prestressed concrete members
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3582533 *Sep 16, 1969Jun 1, 1971Ite Imperial CorpUnderground transmission system employing bare conductors supported by electrical insulating foam
US3963218 *Jun 26, 1973Jun 15, 1976Acieries Reunies De Burbach-Eich-Dudelange S.A. ArbedVehicle guardrail with metal core
US4073841 *Oct 2, 1975Feb 14, 1978Bayer AktiengesellschaftProcess for uniformly filling cavities with a foam insulating material
US4075304 *Jan 29, 1976Feb 21, 1978Edgewater Marine, Inc.Method of making foam filled panels
WO1983001288A1 *Oct 5, 1982Apr 14, 1983Lazare, FrançoisMethod for thermally insulating fluid conduits embedded in the ground
U.S. Classification264/46.5, 425/127, 174/37, 174/96, 425/4.00R, 249/93, 425/63
International ClassificationF16L59/00, F16L59/15
Cooperative ClassificationF16L59/15
European ClassificationF16L59/15