NuFlow has become the agent for a UV pipe repair technology manufactured by German company Pro-Kanal. NuFlow launched the new product at the plumbing part of the IFAT show, with MD Deon Pohorille explaining, “Nuflow SA has upgraded its own system to be powered by the ProKanal offering, which we found after extensive research to be the best in the world.”

Pro-Kanal founder Dieter Meier and his son Sebastian were at the show to demonstrate the system, and explain it to visitors in the plumbing section. The product is also available in Japan, Denmark, the US, Switzerland and Austria, in addition to home-base in Germany and now South Africa.

NuFlow’s Pro-Kanal system on display at IFAT in July. Image credit: Eamonn Ryan

NuFlow’s Pro-Kanal system on display at IFAT in July. Image credit: Eamonn Ryan

Dieter Meier has been involved in pipe lining and repair longer than most in the world, and was one of the original pioneers of the NuFlow type pull-in-place process more than 30 years ago. He has since been honing and refining the process, and has now come up with the latest iteration. The system he developed, according to Pohorillie, has a number of variants around the world. He researched them all, and found Pro-Kanal’s to be the safest and least time consuming. “The others were highly complex – Pro-Kanal was the simplest and completes curing in a maximum of 20 minutes which alternative systems take on average four to five hours to do.”

How it works

  • When a pipe requires repair, the first step is to clean it with high-pressure water or mechanically so the liner and resin can be installed efficiently inside the host pipe. It can be almost any type of pipe.
  • After cleaning, the length of the pipe is measured and the liner (which is a round hose and calibrated to how thick it has to be) cut to size. (One of the greatest points is that this a reinforced liner, allowing it to be
    very thin and very strong).
  • The liner is pre-impregnated with UV activated resin in the factory so no mixing or impregnating on site.
  • The liner is sealed on one end so as to create a vacuum.
  • The liner is pulled or inverted through and made airtight by blowing it through the damaged pipe.
  • It is inflated to adhere to the sides.
  • As the lining is inserted, a small flexible UV light train is inverted simultaneously through the entire length of the pipe, and once the UV light is switched on it cures the entire length simultaneously – explaining the time saving.

How Pro-Kanal differs from others, Meier explains, is that other systems have a heater or light train which steadily traverses the length curing as it goes – this takes longer and also introduces both human danger and the risk of the process failing, in which case the lining has to be pulled back out at a considerable cost of time. The Pro-Kanal / NuFlow system is an all-in-one inversion.

Pohirille says, “The curing technology whereby ambient air cures the resins is no longer competitive, as it takes on average four hours, and when using the slightly-quicker option of heating by steam, there was an element of danger.” For the time saving, the new system is also slightly cheaper, as well as safer. Pro-Kanal is so quick because the resin has a UV-activated element, which means it does not cure prematurely like other resins do because it is not affected by temperature.

Meier describes the market for Pro-Kanal as being primarily plumbers, piping contractors and civil engineers. “It can be used for any pipe in any city where they break as they get older, for instance, such as a connection from a house to the city main water supply, without requiring any dirty work.
“Things can always go wrong – when you’re working underground anything can happen. The advantage of our system over others is that if something does go wrong, we can pull the pipe out easily because it cannot get hard inside the pipe until the UV light is applied. Other systems do not have this benefit, and it is impossible to simply pull out the lining as it is already hardening. It becomes a major job to get it out if something has gone wrong. They use high temperature (over 200°C) but only for 30 seconds for the resin and this can cause shrinkage because it is applied to a cold pipe. There is no chance to adhere. It then shrinks as the heat is withdrawn,” says Dieter.
The Pro-Kanal cures at a maximum of 60°C over a longer period (than 30 seconds) because it is a permanent light. That eliminates shrinking.

Meier started out as a proprietor of a cement foam product to people who inserted pipes in the ground. He was known as an inventor and was approached by businesses as to whether he could invent something to repair small plumbing pipes. NuFlow has launched an affordable patch repair system for contractors who simply want to get into lining but don’t have the appetite for a large cash outlay.