Israeli start-up aims to seal world’s leaky pipes

Curapipe will be launch its new pipe sealant technology in a pilot program this summer; system stops leaks internally through a fire hydrant.

Water  (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In attempt to reduce the 32 billion cubic meters of urban water lost globally to pipe leakage each year, Israeli startup company Curapipe will be launch its new pipe sealant technology in a pilot program this summer, CEO Peter Paz told reporters visiting its Ashkelon facility on Monday.
“We get to the pipe, search for the problem and then repair it from within,” Paz told the group, who were participating in a tour in advance of the international CleanTech conference to be held on July 5 and 6 in Tel Aviv.
The 32 billion cubic meters of urban water lost per year around the world makes up 25 percent of the total water that enters the pipes, Paz explained, quoting statistics from the World Bank.
Between 20 and 50 cubic meters of water are lost per kilometer of pipe each day due to leaks, mainly at service collection points, he said. To help solve this problem, the Curapipe system is “launched” downstream through a fire hydrant – sending in a special viscous substance that stops the leaks internally, sandwiched on either side by cement blocks called a “pig train” that keep the bronze-colored, glue-like substance in place, Paz said.
“This substance knows how to seek where the leakage is, find it, settle in the leakage and cure it for many, many years,” he said. “Instead of launching our product into space we launch it into the pipeline.”
The system can be used in many different sized water pipelines and would also be a good way to stop gas and oil leaks, but the company does not yet have sufficient funds to experiment with pipes containing these more expensive substances, he said.
Paz said, however, that changes would need to be made due to the increased pressure associated with oil and gas flow.
Curapipe, an incubator company initiated four years ago with financing from the chief scientist’s NewTech fund, will launch its pilot system this summer in a large European company’s network of pipes, according to Paz. From there, he hopes to market the company’s system all over the world – he has already filed many patents abroad – but particularly in Asia and Africa where leaks are a big problem.
“I think we’ll be ready for deployment early next year,” he said.
While opening the pipes in a simulation of the Curapipe process, Paz explained that Israel was no exception to the massive leakage taking place around the world.
“In Israel there is a great deal of loss of water, not less than in other places,” he said. “But the problem with Israel is that only recently has there been an understanding of this problem, and there aren’t the resources for this yet.”
Curapipe is currently engaging with larger companies, particularly with the Gihon Jerusalem Municipal Water Company, which Paz said was interested in helping the smaller firm develop its idea.
“Their motivation is that they’re highly incentivized by new technologies,” he said.