Worthington Waterway Barriers' ODINBoom design has a service life of up to 50 years, long-lasting visibility and flexible installation options
Paul Meeks of Worthington Waterway Barriers spoke to International Water Power and Dam Construction (IWP&DC) magazine about the development of the ODINBoom, the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that comes with a lifetime watertight guarantee and a lifetime shell colour guarantee.
IWP&DC: When and why was the Worthington ODINBoom developed?
Paul Meeks: ODINBoom is the result of lessons learned during the last 25 years of Worthington boom installations and especially since 2003 in Canadian installations.
Worthington originally offered, and we still do, an economical moulded plastic boom product called TUFFBOOM and BoatBuster. These booms are made from rotational moulding and offer great economy in production.
The benefit to our clients is they could institute large-scale boom projects for a low initial cost. However, the tradeoff on the moulded plastic booms came in terms of overall life. We learned over the years that moulded plastic booms tend to offer a service life of between 15 to 17 years and in some cases up to 20 years. For a majority of clients that was sufficient, especially considering the low cost per meter.
Over time both Worthington and our clients gained experience with booms in varying environments. Clients came to us seeking solutions with a longer service life and lower total ownership costs especially as regards to maintenance.
Originally, we responded by offering booms made from steel with external epoxy coatings. These steel booms provided significant improvement in durability and life. Steel booms allowed us to extend the life of the boom to between 25-40 years, but this came with a higher cost. And even though steel is more durable, especially in cold weather climates, it easily dents and would require frequent corrective maintenance to repair scratches and nicks in the surface epoxy coating.
ODINBoom presented the ultimate solution in that it is produced from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This HDPE material is 100% corrosion resistant and it can be produced with a thicker wall then conventional steel or moulded plastic.
Marine growth, corrosion and bio-fouling of the surface are nearly eliminated with HDPE. A further benefit is the flexibility of HDPE. It allows us to eliminate connections between booms using conventional shackles and chain.
With HDPE we are able to connect HDPE pipe sections directly to each other to form a continuous-length boom line. But the greatest benefit of ODINBoom lies in the life of the material – ODINBoom allows Worthington to offer a boom design service life of up to 50 years.
HDPE itself is not a new material. It has been used in the mining industry for years due to its durability and ability to stand up to abuse.
However, HDPE pipe is naturally black in colour. This presents a problem for most dam owners. Most boom applications, even debris and ice booms, also have a public safety element to them. By this I mean they must be visible. A black pipe sitting on dark water simply is not visible especially in low-light conditions such as dawn, dusk and during cloudy days.
Worthington is committed to assuring that all of our waterway barrier products also service a public safety around dams function, even if they are primarily designed for ice, debris or fish guidance. We recognised a need for the booms to be visible.
Herein came our biggest challenge. The “HD” in HDPE stands for high density. The HDPE pipe is extremely dense and non-porous. It is also an oil-based product containing natural lubricants. The very properties that make HDPE excellent as a boom material also meant it could not be painted or externally coated in a colour that would make it visible.
Worthington had observed HDPE installations in America where these external coatings would peel, sometimes in a little as two weeks after being exposed to water.
With ODINBoom, we solved this problem by introducing a co-extruded HDPE pipe that is a single material, HDPE per ASTM D3350, but with a 4mm-thick external layer that is fully coloured and a standard internal thick black layer.
Overall, the material is 32mm thick and highly visible. The surface is homogenous with the inner material so it can never peel, bubble or delaminate. ODINBoom changed everything people thought about HDPE.
How does it differ from traditional booms? Are the costs much different?
There are three types of floating boom systems available: Moulded plastic booms produced through rotomoulding and filled with foam; steel pontoons filled with foam and epoxy coated; HDPE co-extruded pipe, foam filled and sealed watertight. These booms each offer a different life span as shown below.
- Rotomoulded plastic: 15 to 17-year life, very low cost. Cost factor: 1.0.
- Epoxy-coated steel: 25 to 40-year life, high cost. Cost factor: 8.0.
- HDPE co-extruded pipe: 50-year design life, medium cost. Cost factor: 4.0.
What are the benefits of using ODINBooms?
The main benefit is in terms of design life. With ODINBoom we are able to offer up to a 50-year design life. Certain ODINBoom designs also allow us to offer a lifetime water-tight guarantee.
The co-extrusion production process results in a high-quality external yellow or orange shell that provides excellent visibility, is UV resistant and in most environments will retain at least 50% of its colour for up to 60 years. This co-extrusion is far superior than standard black HDPE.
A third benefit of ODINBoom is that it can be designed such that individual pipes can be connected end-to-end to eliminate hardware and chain connections between units. This saves on cost and more importantly it results in greatly reduced maintenance costs.
Are there different types of Worthington ODINBoom available?
Worthington offers multiple versions of our ODINBoom barrier, each designed for the type of dam where the booms will be placed. The most common version is 6.1m-long units with end flanges that allow for individual pipes to be connected together end-to-end.
Next is the same flanged pipe but in this case we attach an engineered steel end cap plate with lugs to allow units to be connected via high-strength chain. We offer a version that has non-flanged flat ends. Engineered steel rib-rings are mounted around the circumference of the booms and connected to chain, wire rope or other types of structural steel.
And finally, we have booms with a thick-walled open pipe that extends through the centre of the boom to allow us to run chain through the units. This results in a boom that can freely rotate and is ideal for spillway and tailrace conditions.
This article originally appeared in International Water Power and Dam Construction (IWP&DC) magazine