A new study from Operations Technology Development (OTD), a natural gas industry trade association, has ranked the performance of a variety of leading tracer wires in the lab and in the field for their suitability in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) applications. OTD tasked the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) with conducting the research on the 18 different products, in what amounts to the most comprehensive lab and field testing of tracer wires to date. One product stood out dramatically from the others in its performance: Trace-Safe’s.
The OTD report, “Tracer Wire for HDD Applications,” examined the properties and performance of different types of tracer wire from six different vendors: Agave Wire, Ltd.; Copperhead Industries, LLC; Kris-Tech Wire; NEPTCO/Trace-Safe; Paige Electric Company, LLP; and Pro-Line Safety Products Company. The types of wire (in various gauges) included: solid copper, hard-drawn solid copper, copper-clad steel, hard-drawn copper-clad steel, fully annealed copper-clad steel, stress relieved copper-clad steel, super-flex copper-clad steel, high-strength copper-clad steel, extra high-strength copper-clad steel, dead soft annealed copper-clad steel, stress relieved copper-clad steel, high-flex copper-clad steel, HDD copper-clad steel, and fiber and copper.
The purpose of the testing, according to OTD, was to develop data that could be used by the gas industry and its contractors to enhance the efficiency and success of installing and locating plastic pipelines used to transport natural gas. The project’s scope included: product review and test protocol development, laboratory testing, field testing, and development of recommendations.
In laboratory tests, the report notes that: “One company’s product exhibited a significantly high tensile load (approx. 1,800 lb), attributed to the polymer fibers which provide the strength. This wire also exhibited the similar high tensile load when it was tested with a kink.” In abrasion and scrape-resistance testing, “one company’s insulation (containing polymer fiber and HDPE coating) was significantly higher than the traditional HDPE and LDPE coating.” And after completing field tests, the OTD recommended that “users and wire manufacturers should take into account the selection of high-performance insulation materials that have higher abrasion and scrape resistance in order to prevent wire insulation damage during HDD installations.”
The OTD concluded: “In all, one company’s wire outperformed the other wires based on its rating for the various performance properties evaluated. This wire was also tested in the two field test trials by HDD installation and did not show significant damage on the wire insulation. Furthermore, the continuity of this wire conductor was not affected after a 2,000-hour corrosion test.”
The full 81-page report is available through OTD’s website. We think their test results speak volumes.