The first thing many of us think when we hear the word pipeline is the work of the oil and gas industry, or maybe even a specific pipeline, such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But there are many other uses for pipelines, including the delivery of one of our most basic human needs: water. The issues that arise in many pipeline installations are that the process tends to be both inefficient and harmful to the environment along the route during their deployment and use.
However, one startup thinks it has the answer, and they need your help to make their large pilot project a reality, which will bring desperately needed water to the slums of Santiago, Chile.
TOHL, based in Atlanta, has what they believe is a proven solution for installing (and removing) pipelines in a sustainable and cost-effective manner, which will then be able to deliver water to rural communities that don't have access to a reliable water supply. Their method is quite ingenious, and it's kind of surprising that it hasn't been explored before.
In a nutshell, instead of installing pipelines by hand, out of hundreds or thousands of separate pieces, TOHL has developed a system to deploy pipelines by unspooling large rolls of continuous tubing by air, using helicopters. By installing pipelines in this way, there is virtually no environmental impact on the ground along the route, and the process is incredibly quick.
On the 5th of July, 2012, the company completed the fastest known pipeline installation ever recorded - in just 9 minutes, they installed a 25mm HDPE pipeline one kilometer long, over mountainous terrain, in the community of San Jose de Maipo, Chile! And to go even one better, TOHL showed that they were able to retrieve and remove that same pipeline in only 10 hours, using just 3 people.
TOHL believes that by using their system, water pipelines will be able to be installed quicker, cheaper, and more sustainably than any other method currently in use. This could be a real life-saver for remote communities, whether the pipelines are used to just supplement the water infrastructure or to entirely replace the systems used in many areas, which rely on water trucks delivering directly to the communities.
"Over the next 10 years, TOHL’s technology will affect the lives of 1 billion people globally who do not have access to clean water." - Benjamin Cohen, TOHL’s President & Director of Operations
The idea for the system came after the recent earthquakes in Haiti, when founder and VP Apoorva Sinha, then a Georgia Tech student, conceived of a "fluid transport system" deployable by helicopter to efficiently deliver water to the disaster victims. After TOHL received funding from an incubator, Start-Up Chile, earlier this year, the company has successfully proven the concept with their initial installation (above), and now want to be able to scale it up into a global solution for pipeline installations.
Here's where you come in. TOHL just launched a Kickstarter project in order to fund the creation of a full-scale design and installation, using a wider pipe with a larger flow rate than the pilot project used. The money will be used to improve their spool design and cover engineering, materials, and construction costs.
If you'd like to see this innovative method of deploying water infrastructure really get off the ground, you can kick in your funds here: TOHL: Elevating Infrastructure