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Life begins at 40 for Uponor's PEX pipes

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Uponor PEX-a pipes. The company claims to be the first in the world to have produced, sold and installed these cross-linked polyethylene products.
In 1968-69, Wirsbo Bruks AB of Sweden - now Uponor - began collaborating with Thomas Engel, the inventor of peroxide high-pressure cross-linking technology. Together they developed a production technology that made it possible to produce PEX pipes in large volumes.

With unusual properties including chemical resistance, thermal memory, excellent flexibility, non-corrosiveness and the ability to withstand high temperatures, PEX pipes deliver advantages in many types of application. Thanks to PEX - the common abbreviation for chemically cross-linked polyethylene - Uponor has been able to make underfloor systems that it claims are not only the most comfortable, but also one of the most economical heating systems on the market.

And, after 40 years, more than 3.3 billion metres produced at the European and North American plants have been installed in over 60 countries.

This year almost 200 million metres of pipe will be installed as a core component in various systems.

Still going strong
Neil Young, indoor climate application manager for Uponor, said: 'The Uponor PEX pipe is one of the best known brands in the industry. For engineers, consultants and installers around the world, Uponor is not only a name they trust, but also an integral part of their daily work. The fact that PEX is still going strong after four decades is testament to its reliability and ongoing popularity amongst today's demanding installers.'

Uponor PEX has found its way into a variety of applications. Most current output is used in heating, cooling and tap water systems. Uponor PEX pipe also lends itself to other applications such as fire safety, indoor and outdoor gas piping, district heating, hot and cold-water distribution and relining systems. There is also a rapidly growing market for Uponor PEX in industrial applications.

One such application can be seen at a medical centre in Lutterworth where an area of 1,350 sq m, incorporating 15 consulting rooms, three nurses' rooms, and an on-site pharmacy, has been installed with underfloor heating.

Neil continued: 'Owners and operators of public buildings have many priorities and responsibilities to consider, both in the specification of new buildings and the day to day running of facilities. Uponor's extensive underfloor heating systems have been designed with a number of benefits that take the strain out of the decision making process.

'Underfloor heating is an ideal heating solution for large buildings such as this as only the rooms that are occupied are heated and the heat radiates from the floor upwards. Running costs are also reduced as the water temperature of the underfloor heating system is around 30 to 40 deg C compared to the 60 to 80 deg C required for radiators.

'Installation is also made easier as PEX pipe is light, easy to handle, quick to install and flexible enough to be installed in complicated or tight spaces.

'In the case of Lutterworth Medical Centre, an additional benefit of underfloor heating was the 'hygienic' heat. The gentle radiant heat acts directly on the body without the intermediate stage of first warming the air in the room. The result is the same comfort level, but with a 2 deg C lower room temperature. This is beneficial to health because warm feet and a cool head is exactly what the human body requires and dust and bacteria are not circulated around the room.

'The installation itself consisted of ten manifolds with 43 loops on the ground floor and 24 loops on the first floor, with the entire system managed by Uponor's weather compensating control device to ensure the system runs as energy efficiently as possible with room temperatures controlled to run at the most appropriate setting.

'Finally, a key consideration for the operators of the centre was the fact that systems of this nature are completely tamper proof as the heating system is placed within the floor and hidden away from view making it ideal for public buildings such as schools, churches, hospitals and residential care homes.'
16 July 2012


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