TV PIPE SOLUTIONS

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Sam Boyd - BoydTech Inc. Inventor of EncapsulAC

Narrator:

Looking to expand his own knowledge of pipe reline and infrastructure rehabilitation, Brett Ekart embarks on the journey into the no dig construction world while interviewing experts in all facets of the industry. Hoping to find answers here is Brett Ekart with Reline Unknown.

Brett Ekart:

Today, I get an opportunity to sit down with Sam Boyd of EncapsulAC. I met Sam on LinkedIn and him and I were able to connect down in Fort Worth Texas at the UCT show. I think anybody involved in the reline industry, especially anything to do with pipe bursting, will find this podcast worth a listen. Sam tells it like it is and has a fascinating product he's currently working on. His first project is about to start in Australia. Take a listen.

Brett Ekart:

All right, I'm sitting here with Sam Boyd from EncapsulAC. Sam and I connected probably about a month or so ago on LinkedIn and kind of told me your story, about your product. I'm just a baby infant in the reline industry, so I've learned a lot. I feel like my specialty is more on the slip lining side, if I have a specialty. But I want to just introduce Sam, and let Sam kind of give us a little bit of background on how he got in the trench-less reline industry, and then we'll kind of tail off and kind of discuss his product a little bit. So, go ahead and Sam, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Sam Boyd:

Well, we started ... Boyd Tech is the name of the company, and the name of the product is EncapsulAC. This material, it was developed for asbestos cement pipe rehabilitation. The material is a coagulant tracer fluid that basically encapsules all of the asbestos cement fragments that are produced during trench-less technologies. The material is a bright blue color so it's easily identifiable underground, and that was the whole premise was to find a material and produce something that would be identifiable outside of the soil content around it. Blue just happened to be the right color. In different formations you can find just about any other color except for blue, unless you get up in the mountains and find some turquoise.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

But it's easily identifiable, but it has nothing to do with the fact that it's waterline or sewer line or so on.

Brett Ekart:

The purpose of that is, if someday they do come dig it up, they can identify that right there, the stuff that's marked blue or basically enclosed is asbestos-containing material?

Sam Boyd:

Correct. Basically what they have now started calling ACM, which is the best asbestos-containing materials.

Brett Ekart:

Okay.

Sam Boyd:

Which is kind of interesting. We originally had started in the technology of doing pipe bursting and flowing this material in during pipe bursting. But all the testing that I produced, I couldn't get 100% encapsulation. In clay soils, because of the action of pipe bursting operation, you're forcing that material outward into clay. As soon as you push it into that clay, you can't encapsulate it. It just doesn't happen. However, a lot of the testing we did was either embedded material, which rock bed all the way around it. Hey, you can get 100% encapsulation.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

In sand, you can get about 80-90%, but I can't guarantee 100%. So along came a different process, which is a slurrification process done with HDD equipment versus pipe bursting equipment.

Brett Ekart:

So HDD equipment, for the layman like myself is ...

Sam Boyd:

Horizontal directional drilling equipment. The thing about it is, static pipe bursting, you're not turning anything. You're not spinning anything. You're just pulling full force, basically a bullet down through a pipe and the pipe is smaller on the ID than the outside diameter of the-

Brett Ekart:

You're just breaking it open to slide the new pipe in.

Sam Boyd:

Correct, correct. Or they put a splitter on there and the splitter basically cuts the pipe and lays it open, like in ductile iron or plastic pipe that you're rehabilitating. You basically cut it as you're pulling through, spread it out and draw a new pipe on the inside.

Brett Ekart:

Okay.

Sam Boyd:

So you're using the old pipe as your pilot hole. Well, HDD rigs can follow that pilot all the way down to the other end. Once you get to the other end, you tie on a back reamer and you start back reaming that pipe. Well, as you do that, you're grinding down or slurrifying 100% of that pipe. Well, if I mixed my material with that at that point, then I can guarantee 100% encapsulation of all the asbestos fibers that are in there. Well, because of my background in a pipe bursting or the past few years of doing research in pipe bursting and getting a wide spectrum of asbestos cement pipe used and/or characteristics, I've been able to combine the two together, being the HDD and the pipe bursting, into a single system. Whereas you're grinding it up or slurrifying the material. You're blending it all together, producing a coagulated mass, if you will, and that coagulated mass will gel up-

Brett Ekart:

Okay.

Sam Boyd:

... down in the hole, and as you pull your do, in most cases, HDPE line on the inside or as a new pipe, the material is allowed to fall flow back a wrong side, the house side of the new pipe as being pulled through.

Brett Ekart:

Which keeps it ... I know you mentioned before. It only makes sense, is it keeps it in the ground. Because one thing about asbestos-containing material is what you don't want to happen, and this is just from my to understanding, is you don't want it in the air where it can be breathed or whatever. You want to leave it in the ground. It's not harmful to anybody as long as it's in the ground is kind of what your take is?

Sam Boyd:

Well, it was buried once. It was mined out of the ground, it's a mineral. So we mined it up out of the ground. We used it in different products, all across the board. Now we buried it back in the ground as pipe, but yet you're saying you want me to dig it up, take it out and then haul it off to a waste site so you can bury it again.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. So the environmental impact of just all that extra, the excavators, the trucking, the landfill, the sacking, would go into it. When you talk about truly environmental cost, environmental impact of doing all that, versus just identifying it, leaving it where it's at, pulling the new pipe through. If for whatever reason you need to come dig up that pipe some day, the infrastructure changes, expands, contracts, you know where it's at and you can deal with it at that point.

Sam Boyd:

Well, yeah, you dig down to it. You find what's blue, you leave everything that's blue in the hole, you scrape it off. It doesn't harden to a degree that you would have to beat it off or grind it off. It'll stay pliable underground for years. Chances are the blue material and/or the material coagulator around the outside of the pipe will not harden beyond 80 PSI, which is easily scraped off with a shovel.

Brett Ekart:

But not dry to where it can be dispersed into the air.

Sam Boyd:

Well, yeah, you don't want anything to be produced dust. If you get down to it, you don't want to produce any dust because, well, what part of that dust is pipe? What part is asbestos? What part is dirt? You don't know.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

Same thing with bringing it above the ground. If it's already buried, if we bring it above the ground, there's too many opportunities for it to get into the air, whether it be a falling out of a haul truck, that haul truck has to be run from that job site to a designated dumpsite. And they're not very often that you'll see a designated dumpsite for asbestos. So it's got to travel through populated areas. Well, if you let the public know that you were hauling asbestos through their neighborhood, how long would it take for somebody to say, "I've been contaminated. I'm suing the city"

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. So there is a legal point to it where the ramifications can get expensive as well.

Sam Boyd:

Exactly. In a neighborhood, if you go in and they have asbestos cement pipe in the ground, and they've been drinking water out it for years, they don't really care what the pipe is made out of. They don't care what the new pipe that you're putting in is made out of. All they want to be able to do is reach over for that tap, turn it on and get water.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

If that happens, there's no question. But if you go in there and you inform everybody in the neighborhood, "We're going to come in here and we're going to start re-digging up all of your asbestos cement pipe, and we're going to bag it up and we're going to haul it off," somebody's going to get the wise idea, "Well, I can sue the city because, Hey, I got contaminated."

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

And they can't prove that you weren't contaminated. Could take 15, 20 years. Well, you can't physically dig it up out of the ground and bag it 100% all at the same time. And if you don't do that and you haul it over to a site and you dump it out on the ground, well, just the wind blowing across it, everybody downwind of that pile, quote unquote, is contaminated.

Brett Ekart:

Versus just leaving it where it's at.

Sam Boyd:

Exactly.

Brett Ekart:

So you said, you mentioned that you come from kind of a concrete background. What made you ... what kind of got you into the business that you are today and what's that path to inventing this fluid and this technology to be able to do that? Was there a ... did somebody ask you, Hey, we've got this asbestos pipe, or kind of what is that?

Sam Boyd:

Basically I got a call from an engineer wanting ... He knew that I had a strong background in grouts and different blends of materials and whatnot in the concrete industry and grouting industry. We do a lot of sealing of concrete and we do some really odd ball jobs around the country. Hell, I've even done them overseas. A lot of niche market stuff.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

So he called me up. He says, "I need a grout." I said, "Well, what do you want it to do?" And of course, then you have to go through the NDA process and nondisclosure agreements, whole nine yards. I said, "Okay, okay." So you get to the end of that and you put it out there, and they say, "Well, okay, we want it to do this, this, this, and this." So you say, "Okay, well, I don't think I can ... I don't really think that there's anything on the market, but I'll look around and see and get back to you." I get back to him a month later and say, "Well, there's really nothing on the market, but if you want me to, I can blend you whatever you want, and I've talked to several blenders and they said the parameters are pretty well within reason."

Sam Boyd:

I said, "Well, how big is the job so I know what kind of blender I need. Do I need a million bags or need 500 bags?" And the guy says, "Well ..." and being an engineer, he start to calculate. So I'm listening to him as he calculate. And he said, "Well, there's 652,000 miles of material and it ought to do about seven feet per 50 pound bag, and this, that, and the other." I said, "Wait, wait, wait, stop. That's enough." "Well, I didn't get to the end of the calculation," he said. I said, "Well, you don't have to. I know what I need now. I need a big ass blender!"

Brett Ekart:

Yeah, this is big. Yeah, this is not-

Sam Boyd:

Then I find out that that's just how much AC pipe is in the ground here in the United States, but it's been used around the globe. So there's tons of it out there. Well, okay. So I get an, "Okay that's worthwhile kind of thing." So I start working with these guys, and they say, "Well, we liked that material, but we don't know how to get it from point A to point B." I said, "Well, you better pump it." "Well, how do we make it work?"

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

I said, "Well, I'll tell you what. I'll get together, and we'll find a ... Well, basically you need to find a pipe burster that wants to put it in the hole and has a job that we can go to, and we can put it in the ground."

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

Well, they said, "Well, okay." One of them worked for a city entity-

Brett Ekart:

Yeah, you're fine. Yeah, you're good.

Sam Boyd:

Anyway, so he works for a city and he says he thinks he can get it into a pipe bursting situation in a job, and he thinks he can talk his contractor into it. So I go and I fly over there and I meet with the contractor. The contractor says, "Yeah, I like that idea. We'll try it out on one of my jobs. I just have to get the city to allow me to try something, and they're pretty open to me because I give them good pricing." Okay. So I talked with him and he said, "Well, I kind of want to get involved in this on the big picture." I said, "Well, okay." So I work with him directly. So he and I are working directly together, and these other two guys, they're the ones with the idea, but they ... So we all get together and finally start putting it in the ground.

Sam Boyd:

Of course, the contractor has his own way of delivery, or he'd been to the pipe bursting industry for 15, 20 years. So he's advising to me how he would like to put it in. And of course, I'm advising to him how I'd like to put it in. These other guys, well, they've got or drew something up, but it's very head specific. I don't know how much you know about pipe bursting-

Brett Ekart:

Not a lot.

Sam Boyd:

... but pipe bursting material or equipment, everybody's heads are different across the board. There's no two heads alike because they're all patented.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

So I've got to get fluid to a certain point during that pipe bursting operation. Well, the head that they originally designed was not their own head, but an attachment to an existing head, which is a trench-less technology's head.

Brett Ekart:

Okay.

Sam Boyd:

So it's very head specific. Well, this contractor doesn't have any trench-less technology's heads. He uses-

Brett Ekart:

A different-

Sam Boyd:

... hammerheads heads. Well, so here goes the problem. You made something that's head specific. I can't attach what I need to do to this head. The one you produced was an eight inch and the one they need is a four inch or a six inch, whatever. Well, that becomes a problem. So they're drawing and everything, and all things that we produced or I produced were all head specific for an eight inch diameter pull.

Brett Ekart:

Because what was this pipe? What was the size of pipe that you guys were working on that project?

Sam Boyd:

That project was a six inch and then four, and then there was going to be some 12.

Brett Ekart:

What is the most common size of AC pipe? I mean, concrete pipe.

Sam Boyd:

Six inch here in the United States is most common. In Australia however it's four-inch.

Brett Ekart:

Are they still installing this pipe, or is it something that's been phased out and they've-

Sam Boyd:

They basically have phased out of using asbestos after the mesothelioma scare and all of that back in the, I guess, mid seventies. So they quit putting it in the ground mid seventies, early eighties.

Brett Ekart:

Okay.

Sam Boyd:

However, it had been basically the number one pipe for years because it was inexpensive to produce and it worked well and so on and so forth. So they used it in the sewer line and in waterline, throughout the United States as well as the globe.

Brett Ekart:

What's the quote unquote design life of that pipe, because every pipe has got a design life. Because I'm trying to gauge, if you've been putting it in the ground for XYZ amount of years and design life is X, and this is how much is going to have to be replaced or dealt with in the upcoming say 10 years.

Sam Boyd:

40 to 50 years.

Brett Ekart:

Okay.

Sam Boyd:

Is the design half-life or life. So basically all of that AC pipe that's in the ground right now is ready to be refurbished. According to a study that University of Utah did recently, cast iron and asbestos cement pipe are the top two leak producing pipes in the ground. There is now a federal mandate that says that cast iron has to be refurbished because of the lead content. I know you may or may not know that when they lay cast iron pipe, they pack oakum into the joints, and then they follow it up with led as a gasket material to hold the pipe together. So, that lead is being worked out of the system completely. And it's all over.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

But there's very little lead contamination, but because it's there, the public wants it out of the ground or wants it rehabilitated.

Brett Ekart:

Something to where they feel comfortable enough that they drink water out of a tap.

Sam Boyd:

Sure.

Brett Ekart:

It's coming through-

Sam Boyd:

So whether it be CIPP lining the inside of the pipe, whether it be pipe bursting it, splitting it, breaking it, putting new HDPE in or a fusible PVC, whatever, just as long as you get rid of the lead and possible contamination to the water.

Brett Ekart:

And that's kind of where, I was talking to somebody earlier, that our industry, the reline industry is still in its infant stages. It's still so new. There are all these products and stuff that we are just now dealing with. We've been dealing with asbestos for a lot of years in building, whether it's building tiles or insulation or whatever else it was put in to these older buildings. But now, it's probably just people becoming aware that there is all this pipe in the ground that's met its design life. It's not hurting you from a drinking water standpoint, but its met its purpose and it's going to have to either be replaced, rehabilitated, whatever. What's the most environmentally cost-conscious way to handle it? It seems like that's kind of a business that you're in is, okay, I've invented a way to deal with this.

Sam Boyd:

Correct. It's something that is really conscious for me. When I first got into the dealing with asbestos pipe, I really didn't look at it from that standpoint. I was looking at it from a supply of material standpoint. But over the years, just dealing with it, I've grown in knowledge and/or in feasibility that this is a big problem, and there's a lot of ways to handle it. CIPP, for instance. Are you familiar with CIPP?

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. I mean, I'm not an expert in it, but I'm familiar with the process.

Sam Boyd:

Yeah. Basically you're taking a liner and putting it on the inside of the pipe and producing a seal from the inside. Well, that's a great system. There's nothing really wrong with it, other than most liners don't produce a structural value. You're using the old asbestos pipe as your structural value.

Brett Ekart:

Which has met its design life already. That's why you're dealing with it.

Sam Boyd:

Right. So it's already at its crumbled stage or is starting to be weak in points and therefore producing leaks. It doesn't do well with ground movement. If you have ground movement or you have heavy clay soils where you have expansion and contraction issues with the soil, then the asbestos works at the joints and produces leaks just because of ground movement. Well, because that CIPP is only inside, it's going to have certain amount of structural value, but it's not going to be anything like drawing in new HDPE.

Sam Boyd:

When you're drawing in say a DR9, which a three-quarter inch thick wall brand new pipe, then pipe bursting and/or close tolerance pipe certification become a key factor. Well, other things that you can do with putting in new pipe or with these processes is you can lay larger pipe. You can expand the whole, the pipe two sizes. So if there's four inch in and you want to put 10 inch in, no big deal, or eight inch rather. There's a six and eight. So you go up two sizes, no matter what. Of course, you're going to heave the ground a little bit.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. And most oftentimes, with older infrastructure, let's say you're in a neighborhood or whatever. There was only XYZ amount of houses or XYZ amount of potable water needed, or whatever the-

Sam Boyd:

Sure.

Brett Ekart:

...whatever that was. And now you've got this many more houses that are connected to your sewer system or your water system, so you need a bigger pipe a lot of times. It seems like that's why the pipe bursting industry has, not only from just an infrastructure like it's failing, but also because they need more.

Sam Boyd:

Sure, sure. Yeah. You the homeowner, you turn on your spigot and you're getting 50% less water than you got 20 years ago, but you've got 20 more neighborhoods around you too.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

Well, it's because you're still using the same pipe for the water. They've upped the pressure on that pipe, which just causes more leaks. But the only thing ... you can't increase the volume. All you can do is increase pressure and/or flow rate. So therefore, they're compensating that with that flow rate. That's the only way you're going to get more water to the customer. But if you're still ... you increase the pressure, but you got 20 times the amount of houses you had before, you still reduce the amount of pressure you have at the tap.

Sam Boyd:

So until you increase the size of the pipe, that water pressure is just going to keep going down as they produce more houses on that same land. So you can go to that main and we can run down through that main, you can increase it two sizes. Well, then you come off of that main and you dropped down into those neighborhoods. Well, now all those neighborhoods have the same amount of pressure that you had 20 years ago.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

So, you got to make the customer happy because they're the ones that are paying for it. If they don't pay their water bill-

Brett Ekart:

Yeah, it all goes back to where's the money come from to do the work. And I think that's the-

Sam Boyd:

Of course, the funniest thing I ever heard, I heard this at Dr. Isley over in Louisiana Tech told me this the other day. He says, "You know, we, as a public, never have a problem paying 100, even 150, $200 for our cable bill."

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Sam Boyd:

"But we bitch and complain every time our water bill goes up a dollar."

Brett Ekart:

Oh yeah.

Sam Boyd:

And it's usually in the $30 range, 60 maybe tops, with garbage collection all combined in.

Brett Ekart:

All wrapped into one.

Sam Boyd:

Right. and if it goes up a dollar, we have a hemorrhage.

Brett Ekart:

Oh yeah.

Sam Boyd:

But our cable bill can be $130 a month and we just pay it. We just pay it. We don't complain. But cable, TV and/or internet does not sustain life. Water does.

Brett Ekart:

Water does, and clean water.

Sam Boyd:

Yeah. So you're saying that I'd rather have the TV than water, than good clean water.

Brett Ekart:

But nobody's ever been faced with that hard decision yet, because they expect the city, the municipality, the dot gov to take care of that for them. That's why they're paying, they feel like they're paying their real estate tax, or the real property tax. I don't know what the tax situation is here in Texas, but in Idaho we have to pay real property tax. We pay ... We feel like there's definitely some ... We're definitely paying somebody something somewhere at every corner. But if they would just move that money around and tell you what it's paying for, and be as upfront as possible and say, all this money is to make sure that when you turn on that faucet, your water is drinkable. I think that's-

Sam Boyd:

Drinkable and good pressure.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah, good pressure.

Sam Boyd:

That's the thing.

Brett Ekart:

So I wanted just to touch on ... Before we leave, I want you to touch on what you got going on in Australia real quick.

Sam Boyd:

We're going to start putting this process into use in late February, early March. We're going to do proof of concept jobs in two different areas, one down around Melbourne, and then another one up in the Brisbane area. There are two municipalities that are really keen on trying this process out. Problem with asbestos in Australia is that was used in a lot of building materials. It was used in a lot of insulation, and therefore their asbestos dumpsites are already at an overcrowded capacity.

Brett Ekart:

Okay.

Sam Boyd:

So getting rid of all of the asbestos cement pipe that's in the ground is just not a feasible operation. Not to mention the amount of carbon footprint to haul it from point A to point B, dig it all up, haul it. It just gets to an astronomical number, and the fees that you have to pay just to place it there.

Brett Ekart:

So is Australia kind of like the proving ground? Is that what you guys are kind of ... your company is trying to-

Sam Boyd:

They're the first ones to consider leaving 100% in the ground, marking it in place, and putting tracer wire in all the same patch. They probably will be the leaders in this industry, as far as the first country to accept this operation. The United States EPA has approved CTPS or "close tolerance pipe slurrification", but the present regulation says that you've got to pump it all out of the ground, which really just makes no sense. Leaving it in the ground, leaving it marked in place makes much more sense. There's no sense digging it up just to bury it again at a different site, not to mention the amount of contamination between point A and point B.

Brett Ekart:

Well, there's no doubt in my mind that everybody's going to kind of have to keep their eyes on this from Australia. I've learned over the last few months of doing the podcast is, a lot of your trench-less technology that's came to the United States, or that's being done in the United States, started overseas somewhere because the infrastructure is older and that's one thing that Chris Larson really told me. He was like, "Hey." He's like, "We want to see what's coming and we want a new product." We go to these international trade shows and we see what they're doing in Europe and China and some of these other places, because they are kind of a proving ground for some of this technology. So I'm going to keep an eye on it. I'm sure that the local, the US EPA, everybody's going to kind of keep an eye on the process. I assume you're going to kind of keep pushing it out there and kind of letting people know how the project's going. So I guess all I say is just keep us in the loop.

Sam Boyd:

Sure.

Brett Ekart:

And let us know.

Sam Boyd:

Yeah. As soon as we get some actual conceptual data, some case history, then we'll be putting it out there and I'll keep you abreast.

Brett Ekart:

I'd like to come back and do a followup podcast and be like, "Okay, Sam."

Sam Boyd:

20 years later, "We're still trying to put it in the ground."

Brett Ekart:

How about six months, a year. Let's do this again and be like, "This is how it went. Here's some photos of the job site. Here's what we did. Here's how..." That's what I'd be super interested in a follow up.

Sam Boyd:

Yeah. We do these ... get up to these shows there once in a while. What are we at UCT 2020?

Brett Ekart:

Yep.

Sam Boyd:

So, if nothing else, we're going to get together another year from now here at UCT 2021.

Brett Ekart:

Exactly. Worst case scenario, we go to drink beer and talk about it.

Sam Boyd:

Yep.

Brett Ekart:

All right. Well, thank you for your time, Sam. I appreciate it. It's been a learning experience for me, and I look forward to having this conversation again.

Sam Boyd:

Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

Brett Ekart:

America's aging underground infrastructure will need to be dealt with in the upcoming years. Our mission with Reline Unknown is to help individuals and organizations gain insight into the pipe, reline and infrastructure world and help process the key decision, reline or replace. Thank you for listening.