A Different Kind Of Pipeline

When most people think of the word “pipeline”, they think of oil. This week on Bloomberg West, we look at how pipelines can be used differently to sustainably deliver water through difficult terrain, remote villages, or through natural disaster areas.

Recent Georgia Tech graduates Benjamin Cohen and Travis Horsley created T.O.H.L (Tubing Operations for Humanitarian Logistics).  This system of pipes provides a cost effective and reliable way for water to be transported around Chile. This improvement on mobile infrastructure can be established anywhere, anytime. These pipelines, like cell phones, are not anchored in one place. They are powered by solar panels, underwater turbines, wind power and, if needed, a backup gasoline generator.

Using startup funds from the government of Chile, Cohen and Horsley tested their new invention. First they installed a pump at a water source. Next, they delivered the flexible and durable high density polyethylene pipe by air to wherever the water was needed.

“We’ve developed a system that can be quickly installed in a matter of minutes or hours,” said Cohen, “and then we can operate it for a period of time during a disaster.”

On July 4th 2012, Cohen and Horsley successfully deployed over a kilometer of pipeline in eight and a half minutes.

Cohen and Horsley are not the only ones building water pipelines. According to Bloomberg Business Week, Turkey is working to finish a 9,300 kilometer water pipeline — the longest ever built. This is part of the $111 million Hurran Plain Closed Drainage Project. The purpose of the project is to help mitigate drainage problems and to avoid high levels of dissolved solids in groundwater.

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