11Aug 2013

URETEK and the Environment

By Robert Armstead

URETEK Holdings is often asked about the nature of its products; specifically, it’s 486STAR class of rigid structural geotechnical polymers.   Some of the questions involve the lasting impacts to the environment after injection into the soil and, more specifically, its effect on the environment.   Extensive testing and evaluation has been conducted over the 20 year history of the polymer being used for ground stabilization purposes.  Here is some information we have gathered on this minimally invasive solution that meets all EPA standards.NSF

Effect on Drinking Water – The URETEK 486STAR NSF products are certified for conforming to the requirements of NSF/ANSI Standard 61 Drinking Water System Components – Health Effects. This is “the standard that establishes minimum health effects requirements for materials, components, products, or systems that contact drinking water, drinking water treatment chemicals, or both” by NSF International, also known as The Public Health and Safety Company™. In general terms, NSF 61 Certification allows the 486STAR NSF polymer to be used around potable water.

Hydro-Insensitive – The polymer is specifically formulated so it will not mix with outside liquids during injection, curing and in final use.  The polymer actually displaces trapped water and is not compromised by wet conditions during or after installation.  Once the curing process is complete, the cured polymer retards further water infiltration.

In 2012, Bayer MaterialScience LLC – Polyurethanes, tested the effect of 486STAR polymer on the pH of water, the Total Organic Carbon (TOC) and the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) of water. The data was collected after foaming “approximately 235 grams” of the polymer and allowing it to react in “approximately 7500 grams of water.” The final analysis showed that “The TOC content of the water was approximately 9000 mg/kg of foam. However, none of the target VOCs from US EPA Method 8260 was found to be present in the water above their limits of detection.” The pH changed “only slightly, from 6.75 to 6.61.

Lightweight – The polymer is extremely lightweight, weighing less than 5% the weight of comparable cementitious-based grout.  Thus, the polymer adds only a minimum amount of overburden weight into a project area which may already have distressed base and sub-base soils.

Safe – The cured polymer is chemically inert, environmentally neutral and does not contribute to soil or groundwater contamination, leaching, or pollution.

In a DuPont publication (BA-13) from the 1980’s, polyurethane foams were tested under a variety of conditions.  In one test, polyurethane foam was buried for a 10 year period.  After this exposure, there was “a small change in the size of the buried samples, however, the foam itself was found to be in good condition.”

Mildew, Fungi and Termites – The material is impervious to mildew, fungi and termites.  In another test conducted more than 10 years ago by the Freon® Products Division of the DuPont Company and documented in their white paper titled “Properties of Rigid Urethane Foams”, sections of pine board having foamed-in-place cores of general purpose foam were buried to one-half their length in the ground.

Neither the foam-cored panels nor pine boards buried near the panels showed any signs of termite attack after one year; the pine boards were attacked by termites in three years and rotted in ten years, but there were only a few holes in the edges of the foam-cored panels.

Sustainability of Earth’s Resources – URETEK’S STAR486 polymer is used to extend and enhance the life of existing infrastructure/structures, thereby reducing the potential carbon footprint.  Extending the life of our infrastructure/structures eliminates traditional remove and replace techniques, thereby reducing demand on landfill space for demolition waste and reducing demand for concrete and other building materials required for reconstruction.  URETEK’s soil stabilization method also avoids large excavation and any potential hazards to the local environment.

Methods and Processes – Everyone at URETEK is very concerned about protecting the natural environment, both from a personal and organizational perspective.  The URETEK team facilitates a smaller, more efficient operation that utilizes higher efficiency pumping equipment, low emission generators and gas powered tools.  Because of URETEK’s experience factor, our operators complete projects expediently, avoiding downtime, burning less fuel, and minimizing unnecessary demands on our precious natural resources.