U.S. demand for large-diameter pipe will increase 2.7 percent annually to reach 203 million feet in 2012, according to a study by The Freedonia Group (www.freedoniagroup.com). The study, titled Large Diameter Pipe, says the market value for large diameter pipe will hit $10 billion in 2012, driven by such growth stimulants as a rebounding construction sector and needs to expand and upgrade an aging pipe infrastructure in the United States.

Concrete is expected to account for the largest share of the market at 54 percent of all linear pipe footage. According to Freedonia, this pipe segment will remain strong due to the need for such characteristic as structural integrity, durability, and high compression and pressure resistance. Demand for large diameter concrete pipe is projected to advance two percent annually to more than 109 million feet, paced primarily by drainage and irrigation applications.

The fastest growth segment is anticipated to be plastic pipe in light of resin and machinery improvements, as well as good joint integrity, corrosion resistance and flow rate, and lower installation costs. Plastic pipe advances will be stimulated by resin advances (e.g., bimodal polyethylene and molecularly oriented PVC), which will extend the pressure resistance and other properties of large diameter plastic pipe, according to Freedonia.

Demand for large diameter steel pipe is projected to increase 1.8 percent per annum due to steel’s high strength, rigidity and pressure tolerance, particularly in
exploratory, distribution and transmission applications for the natural gas and petroleum industries. Cast iron pipe will remain the preferred choice in applications where high water pressure capabilities are required. Meanwhile, Freedonia predicts clay pipe demand will slowly diminish based on competition from higher performing and lower cost plastic pipe.

According to Freedonia, storm sewers will remain the leading large diameter pipe market, although better growth is anticipated in natural gas and drainage/irrigation applications. Natural gas markets are expected to grow due to high energy costs, increased exploration and drilling activity and the performance of HDPE pipe in gas distribution uses.

Good growth is also expected for drainage and irrigation pipe, due to rebounding construction activity and widespread drainage applications. Sanitary sewer growth will be based on needs to address problems with combined sewer overflows and the maintenance of clean water standards, according to Freedonia.