NIST Awards Fibrwrap $8 M to Develop Robotic Pipe Repair

In partnership with Fyfe Company, LLC and the University of California, Irvine, Fibrwrap's prototype robotics will be used to apply high-strength fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) to the inside of aging water transmission pipelines.

Tyfo® Fibrwrap FRP is designed to prevent pipes from bursting, collapsing or further deteriorating, and one report states this program may save communities $245 billion in lost opportunities and rebuilding of critical underground pipelines.

NIST is awarding more than $70 million in research funds, which will be matched by other sources to equal $150 million in grants over the next two to five years. The high-profile project was created to fund 20 cost-sharing studies addressing national infrastructure problems. The projects are part of President Obama's efforts to spur economic recovery and address costly societal concerns.

The robotics approach to applying FRP systems has been tried in the past by other companies without success. The difference is the patent-pending technology and the strong team of joint venture partners, along with supporting members such as San Diego County Water Authority, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, District of Columbia Water and Sewer, and engineers Simpson, Gumphertz, and Heger.

The Tyfo® Carbon Fiber system has been used to strengthen pipelines for the past decade. The leading water agencies in the United States have turned to Fibrwrap Construction for many years to perform rehabilitation of their most critical pipelines. The TIP program will allow the Tyfo® system to be applied as much as 10 times faster than manual application.

"By combining Fibrwrap's expertise in application of the Tyfo® Carbon Fiber system with the university's cutting-edge robotics program, we're taking the next step in standardizing carbon fiber for advanced pipe retrofitting, including extended runs," said Edward Fyfe, inventor of the Tyfo® Fibrwrap® system. "This program is excellent news for the government, as well, since the resulting technology could provide untold savings by providing a safer, less costly, and more environmentally friendly method of repairing thousands of miles of U.S. water pipelines."

Heavily populated urban areas such as Los Angeles, Baltimore, and New York City experience catastrophic water main breaks on an all-too frequent basis, emphasizing the compelling need for affordable repair solutions. When Fibrwrap's robotic prototype is complete, it will adjust to a variety of pipe sizes and apply advance composite fiber more than 10 times faster than human workers – even to problematic surfaces that are uneven and oddly shaped.

"Fibrwrap is honored to be chosen for this landmark project," said Chief Executive Officer Heath Carr. "As the industry leader in the application and innovation of advanced composites, we'll be working with Fyfe Co. and the University of California to combine patented, trenchless Tyfo® Fibrwrap technology with advanced sensor systems. In the end, these cutting-edge platforms will monitor pipe health and restore pipes quickly and efficiently."

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