Definition - What does Tuberculation mean?

Tuberculation is a form of corrosion that affects the inside of iron pipes. It is a particularly common problem with cast iron pipes that are some 100-years-old or more. New methods of installation and manufacturing prevent this from occurring in modern iron pipes, and rehabilitation of the older pipes is quite feasible.

Trenchlesspedia explains Tuberculation

Tuberculation can result in decreased pump efficiency in domestic water distribution systems. It can also be the cause of leaks. The culprit of tuberculation is the oxidation of iron in the form of ferrous oxide and other compounds. Various pipe cleaning methods have been developed to rehabilitate pipes affected by tuberculation.

Iron-oxidizing bacteria can build up in water pipe systems as they metabolize iron and cover it with a slimy brown coating. The deposits these bacteria leave are called tubercles. One solution for tuberculation is biological control. Disinfection strategies may include chlorination, the use of chloramine, or even ozone or ultraviolet light. Disinfectants may kill the bacterial community, but that would not eliminate the deposits. Physical removal of the tuberculation may require a sewer jetter that uses pressurized water to flush out pipes. Another option is to use sliplining to rehabilitate old pipes when other methods prove insufficient.

According to the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA), tuberculation is a thing of the past. In a May 2014 journal article, they write that “in modern Ductile Iron Pipe and potable water piping systems with cement-mortar lining, tuberculation is no longer an issue”. They also claim that “tuberculation can be easily and economically removed by pigging or mechanical cleaning”.

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