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The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a polymer composite solution for one of Africa’s largest steel pipe manufacturers, Hall Longmore, which takes them one step closer to offering the South African water industry a localised push-fit application for pressurised steel pipelines.

Using the DSI-CSIR Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility, CSIR researchers developed a uniquely formulated polymer composite material for the steel pipe manufacturer and performed coating trials at their facility.

“The coating trials proved to be a success and an indication of a fruitful collaboration between local institutions working together to localise technology solutions for industry, “says Managing Director of Hall Longmore, KC Van Rooyen.

The South African-based steel pipe manufacturer imports a special polymer to coat pipes through a fluidised bed technology. However, fluctuations in the USD/ZAR exchange rate made it increasingly challenging to budget for projects. In response to this, Hall Longmore approached and contracted the CSIR to develop a composite material from locally produced polymers.

“We have expertise in formulation design, polymer modification, processing and characterisation, and an array of other capabilities that we leverage to provide our clients with a holistic solution,” says CSIR research group leader for advanced polymer composites, Dr Vincent Ojijo.

“This created a conducive environment for us to co-design and construct a test-rig with Hall Longmore. The project procured services from a local third-party polymer compounder for successful industrial optimisation and production of test materials at scale. The ultimate success of this project is credited to a strong collaborative and consultative effort by the parties,” says Ojijo.

The CSIR undertook preliminary research that outlined the desired developmental approach to be taken. This was followed by lab-scale material development and the technical validation of its performance. Concurrently, a lab-scale fluidised bed for rapid coating trials was co-designed by the CSIR and Hall Longmore. The company co-constructed, installed and commissioned it for use in testing the developed material. After successful lab-scale validations, the pilot-scale optimisation process for the developed material was completed.

The project is now in production phase at the third-party compounder, with the steel-pipe supplier having ordered 150 tons of the CSIR co-developed material.

“One of the CSIR’s strategic objectives is to collaboratively improve the competitiveness of high-impact industries to support South Africa’s re-industrialisation; therefore, the successful collaboration between the CSIR and Hall Longmore shows our commitment to supporting South Africa’s industry and growing our impact on the continent and around the world,” says Dr Jan van De Loosdrecht, Cluster Executive Manager, CSIR Future Production, Chemicals.

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