Innovative approach to determine the minimum wall thickness of flexible buried pipes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper uses a finite element based approach to provide a comprehensive understanding to the behaviour and the design performance of buried uPVC pipes with different diameters. It also investigates pipes with good and poor haunch support and proposes minimum safe wall thicknesses for these pipes. The results for pipes with good haunch support showed that the maximum pipe wall stress and deformation increase as the diameter increased. The results for pipes with poor haunch support showed an increase in the dependency of the developed vertical displacement on the haunch support as the diameter or the backfill height increased. Additionally, poor haunch support was found to increase the soil pressure, with the effect increasing as the diameter increased. The design of uPVC pipes for both poor and good haunch support was found to be governed by critical buckling. A key outcome is a new design chart for the minimum wall thickness, which enables the robust and economic design of buried uPVC pipes. Importantly, the methodology adopted in this study can also be applied to the design of flexible pipes manufactured from other materials, buried under different conditions and subjected to different loading arrangements.


Original languageEnglish
JournalGeomechanics and Engineering
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Nov 2017


  • soil-structure interaction, underground structures, Design, finite element method, numerical analyses