Cross linked polyethylene (XLPE or PEX) has many advantages over other types of polymers. Do you want to know why it’s so great and how it’s used? Then read this article to find out!
What is XLPE?
So, what is cross linked polyethylene? It’s a polymer with a unique molecular structure that is comprised of linked chains.
There are two different manufacturing methods that are used to create PEX polyethylene:
- Chemical Process – This requires chemicals or initiators like peroxide to produce free radicals that cause cross linking
- Physical Process – This requires using high energy sources to produce PEX polyethylene.
The cross-linked chains make this type of polymer stronger than others. Other varieties of polyethylene that are not cross linked are subject to structural changes caused by extreme temperatures. Those polymers are hardened by heat and are softened by cool temperatures.
But PEX polyethylene is thermally stable, meaning it is not affected by extreme temperatures as quickly as other types of polyethylene are. In fact, a cross linked polyethylene cable can withstand temperatures that range from 90 degrees C (194 degrees F) to 105 degrees C (221 F).
PEX polyethylene were introduced in the 1930s. They were brought to North America in the 1980s and have been deemed acceptable by the U.S. and Canada for use in model plumbing and mechanical codes. In addition, NFPA standard 13D allows certain PEX pipes to be implemented in fire sprinkler systems.
Benefits of XLPE
PEX cross linked polyethylene offers many advantages that make this type of polymer a good choice for various projects. Its benefits are listed below:
- It is corrosion, chlorine, and chloramine resistant;
- Its lightweight makes it easy to move
- It can endure rough job site installations without being damaged;
- It offers many fitting and joining options without requiring flame;
- Its voltage range is wide, from 600V to 35kV;
- It won’t experience damage from being underground;
- It is weather and moisture resistant;
- It is thermally stable;
- It’s pliable, making it easier to install;
- It’s economical compared to other options;
- It’s long-lasting due to its durability;
- It is not easily damaged by severe pressure,
- It can be used for projects that require low smoke zero halogen materials.
XLPE common applications
Based on its favorable characteristics, it’s clear that PEX polyethylene is a great choice. In general, XLPE cables are excellent for:
- Extremely hot or cold conditions;
- High voltage applications;
- Abrasive conditions;
Keep reading to learn about some specific examples of XLPE applications.
XLPE for plumbing
PEX polyethylene is most often used in the plumbing industry, which once considered copper as the material of choice. There is nothing wrong with using copper, but XLPE has several advantages that make it an even better option.
These advantages include:
- Corrosion resistance;
- High tolerance for hot and cold,
XLPE for mining
The installation and maintenance of mining pipes require a tremendous amount of time and money. XLPE may solve this problem because it’s easy to install, making it quicker and cheaper to use.
And its ability to hold up under intense pressure and temperatures enable it to survive in a mining environment.
XLPE for electrical cables
The transportation of energy requires fire-resistant cables. Cross linked polyethylene cables have this quality, making them sufficient shields for wires as they transport energy.
PEX for chemicals
Due to their ability to resist corrosion, cracking, and heat damage, PEX can be used to create storage units for chemicals.
Although the cost of building storage tanks out of PEX is higher than the cost to use other options, this extra expense will be worth the increase in life span it provides.
This ultimately saves money because there will be fewer repairs and maintenance costs. Plus, the tanks won’t need to be replaced as often.
PEX for radiant heating
If you need to heat floors,PEX is the perfect option for a radiant heating system. This system carries warm water through PEX tubing to an area of the building that needs to be heated up.
PEX is a smart choice for this type of project because it can tolerate high heat. Even better, it’s pliable enough to be shaped as needed for the purpose of taking heat into multiple directions.
There are so many great uses for PEX that we don’t have enough time to go over them all in this article. But just to give you an idea of the many different ways this polymer can be utilized, here is a small list of some other industries that use PEX:
Obviously, high density cross linked polyethylene is a great choice for many different kinds of projects. Are you interested in using it for your current or upcoming project?
Contact us to learn more. We can help you make your next project a success.