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Optimal results in difficult conditions

When constructing industrial buildings, there are many challenges to overcome. In addition to a rapid construction progress, the profitability of the building is the focus. aquatherm develops solutions for a wide variety of requirements and ensures optimum results even in difficult conditions. Thanks to our large product portfolio, we not only cover the areas of heating and cooling, potable water, compressed air and vacuum applications, but also provide our customers with local expertise in district heating and cooling, refrigeration and sprinkler piping.



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Wisconsin paper mill relies on aquatherm

piping system for dye distribution



Neenah Paper Inc.


aquatherm blue pipe


Stevens Point, WI

March 2012 – August 2012


Installing a pipe material that would be resilient and affordable for transporting dyes used to manufacture brightly colored paper.


Over 19,000ft of pipe, connected by roughly, 4,250 fittings and valves, were installed with zero leaks, passing the rigorous aquatherm pressure test process the first time.



  • PP-R material is highly resistant to chemicals and corrosion
  • simple heat fusion joints are easy to install and leakproof
  • Significant labor savings compared to alternative systems

Neenah Paper Inc. (NPI) is a producer of premium image and performance-based products, including filtration, specialized substrates used for tapes, labels and other products, and high end printing papers.

Following NPI’s business acquisition of Wausau Paper’s Astrobrights® Brand, The Whiting Mill in Stevens Point, WI needed to expand its manufacturing capability to meet the unique demand of producing brightly colored papers. To produce this brightly colored paper, staff at the central- Wisconsin paper mill sought solutions to store and distribute more than 24 different liquid dyes from one of four different sizes of supply tanks to multiple distribution points throughout the mill, and finding the right distribution piping material was top priority.

Numerous types of piping materials were considered. “Stainless steel was the default consideration, but it is expensive and some of the dyes eat through stainless pipe in a matter of weeks, which would result in a mixed-material installation, thus limiting flexibility of moving dyes between different tanks,” said Kevin Calhoun, mechanical engineer at NPI.

Seeking a Single Solution
The challenge was in finding a single solution that was less expensive than polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) tubing or welded stainless steel, more resilient and thermodimensionally stable than glued chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) or polyethylene (PE) tubing, and with greater chemical resistance than stainless steel or CPVC. On-site demonstrations from competing polypropylene piping providers greatly alleviated technical concerns about the material in general, as well as the quality, speed, and complexity of fusion-welded joints.

Aquatherm’s Blue Pipe® pipe system (formerly Climatherm) was a clear frontrunner on all points. Polypropylene Random (PP-R) — which boasts all the unique advantages of Aquatherm Green Pipe® — such as the strengthening characteristics of the faser layer, but is engineered with thinner walls for higher flow rates — is high-heat stabilized, allowing it to be manufactured as SDR 11 instead of SDR 7.4. This reduces the weight of the pipe, improves its flow rate, and keeps it competitive with comparable non-potable systems.

Polypropylene’s superior chemical resistance made it a suitable choice for across-the-board use in this particular dye system. “This particular application was primarily focused on the chemical resistance of polypropylene, which, as we learned in our research, is frequently used in lab waste applications as a cost-competitive cousin to PVDF,” said Calhoun.

On the Clock
Neenah Paper was up against the clock. Despite not starting until March 2012, there was a fixed start-up deadline of August 2012. “NPI takes pride in unmatched customer service and product availability. Missing the August start-up date would have risked service interruptions to customers, so the installation needed to be done quickly, correctly and without issues,” said Calhoun. Very little time was available to develop a project budget and very little design work was invested into technical designs, so in order to expedite funding availability, the budget was developed based on using 316 stainless steel welded construction for all piping. Then the challenge was delivering a solution for much less.

“Initial estimates put raw material costs roughly equivalent to that of CPVC. In the end, costs were slightly higher than CPVC, but still less than half the cost of stainless. Aquatherm ended up providing considerable material and labor savings,” said Calhoun.

The task seemed tall. Approximately 2,500 ft of 1 1/2-in. pipe and more than 1,000 fusion joints would be used to transfer dye from totes to one of dozens of bulk tanks. About 5,450 ft of 1 1/4-in. piping and another 3,400 ft of 1-in. piping, held together by more than 4,500 fusion joints, needed to transfer dye from the bulk tanks to one of nearly 400 service taps and valves.

A little more than 1,000 ft of ¾-in. pipe would carry diluted dyes. Another 6,750 ft of ½-in. pipe, connected by at least 1,750 fusion joints, would carry dye from the metering pump area to where it is injected in the process. In all, more than 19,000 ft of pipe, connected by roughly 4,250 fittings and valves — more than 7,300 fusion welds — were installed with zero leaks, passing the rigorous Aquatherm pressure test process the first time.

“When the pressure test was done at the completion of the job, Neenah Paper did not have one recordable leak at any of the joints,” said Brad Murphy, account manager, Columbia Pipe & Supply, Schofield, WI, which served as the Aquatherm distributor on the job. Complicating the task at hand was that the workers had to endure extreme conditions in some of Wisconsin’s hottest temperatures. “The job took place during the hot summer months and in lower levels of the paper mill with minimal air circulation. With less than ideal conditions, the men keep a good positive attitude working with Aquatherm because installation was easy and fast. When you accomplish a lot in a day, you go home feeling good,” said Tony Heil, project manager, August Winter & Sons, Inc., Appleton, WI. “And, doing come cost comparisons between 316 stainless and Aquatherm for the Neenah installation at Whiting Mill, we saved about 58 percent of the install labor and 51 percent on material cost.”

While many competitors traditionally supply all polypropylene valves with threaded ends, Aquatherm has found on thermal cycling applications — for which Aquatherm material is largely used — the plastic threads are a failure point. Aquatherm only offered fusion-welded joints and molded-in metal joints. Since nearly all of the valves in the system needed to be threaded to adapt to some other instrument or piping system, such as a hose barb and length of hose, adding a third-party all-plastic threaded adapter wasn’t an option due to cost and space. “Working together, Columbia Pipe & Supply and Aquatherm found a solution to modify and source polypropylene threaded valve ends. Aquatherm and Columbia Pipe & Supply really went the extra mile for this job,” said Calhoun. Additionally, Skip Newton, with Aquatherm’s local manufacturer’s rep, PVF Solutions (Arlington Heights, IL) provided tireless support in working with all the key players on the job.

The paper company sought a solution to transport more than 24 different liquid inks from one of four supply tanks to numerous distribution points in the factory.
Nearly 5,800 meters of aquatherm blue pipe were connected and installed, with approximately 4,250 fittings and valves.
The fiber composite technology as well as the higher pressure levels and flow rates of the aquatherm pipe compared to other plastic pipe systems made Aquatherm the choice at Neenah Paper.

“The job took place during the hot summer months and in lower levels of the paper mill with minimal air circulation. Withless than ideal conditions, the men keep a good positive attitude working with aquatherm because installation was easy and fast. When you accomplish a lot in a day, you go home feeling good.”

Tony Heil, Projektleiter, August Winter & Sons, Inc., Appleton, WI

Contact:  aquatherm GmbH | Biggen 5 |  57439 Attendorn Germany | Tel: +49 2722 950 0 |