U.S.-China Collaboration Helps Spread the Reach of Trenchless Technology

CEM Head, Mark Hastak traveled to China in October to attend a workshop concerning the country’s need for trenchless technology.

In the next decade, the eyes of the world will be on China. The Summer Olympics are coming to its capital city of Beijing in 2008, the World Expo descends on Shanghai in 2010, and the Asian Games are in Guanghou in 2010. These three major international events and other huge projects, such as the west-to-east gas project and long distance oil pipeline projects, will continue or accelerate the construction frenzy that the country is experiencing.

And so there is a great need for trenchless and other underground infrastructure technologies.

Enter the workshop on “Trenchless Technology and Critical Underground Infrastructure Issues” at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan (CUG). Purdue CEM Professor Dr. Mark Hastak joined a handful of other American researchers in China for the conference in October. The Chinese and American researchers reviewed state-of-the-art trenchless technologies, cured-in-place pipes, directional drilling techniques, geotechnical investigations, freight pipelines, pipeline assessment strategies, the relationship of underground infrastructure in China and the United States, urban planning, risk assessment, and asset management.

These workshops are what Dr. Baosong Ma calls the beginning of a win-win situation. “U.S. researchers have more advanced knowledge of trenchless technology for underground pipeline construction, repair, and renewal, but in China we have a huge potential market for the application.” Despite vast technological advancements, trenchless methods presently account for less than seven percent of the present construction activities. China, therefore, represents potentially the largest and fastest growing worldwide market for the application and further development of trenchless technology and underground infrastructure technologies.

As an extension of the workshop, the development of the China-U.S. Joint Center for Trenchless R&D will foster dialogue and technology transfer between two countries. “The results of the workshop will also be presented at three U.S. universities, a workshop in conjunction with ASCE International Pipeline Conference to be held in July 2008 in Atlanta, and through several conference and journal papers,” Dr. Mohammed Najafi of the University of Texas-Arlington said.