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Center for Pipes and Underground Structures

The Center for Pipe and Underground Structures helps solve the major challenges presented to the pipe industry through demands from users/customers, market competitiveness, federal and state environmental regulations, aging infrastructures, and expanding global markets. By aiding industry in developing and testing new designs, manufacturing prototypes, and bringing improved designs to the market, and by educating students for careers in the field of pipes, Ohio University and ORITE occupy a central place in the future of the pipe industry.

Ohio is the headquarters for about 80 percent of the plastic pipe manufacturers in the United States. Concrete, metal, and clay pipe industries are also very active in Ohio.

A significant amount of investment is expended on pipes and underground structures for rehabilitation and new development of the infrastructure. Pipes are utilized for highway drainage systems, sewers, water conveyance, oil and gas lines, telephone and electrical conduits, and agricultural and landfill drainage. Ways to improve pipe performance have thus become an increasing priority for the pipe and related industries.


Features of the Center for Pipe and Underground Structures include

  • an outdoor, 600-ton load frame where pipe can be installed, studied, and tested under in-situ conditions,
  • a national field installation site with thermoplastic pipe installed with 20 and 40 feet of cover and various backfill conditions for long-term monitoring (see photo gallery),
  • extensive specialized sensors and data acquisition equipment that can be deployed via field vehicles,
  • an array of laboratory equipment for material characterization and model testing, and
  • special hardware and software programs for analysis of pipe.
    • The Center for Pipe and Underground Structures is housed in RTEC 022.


Led by Associate Director Shad Sargand, ORITE has conducted nationally recognized research on pipes and culverts for more than a decade. Investigations have been performed at field sites in the Midwest, as well as at the outdoor load cell facility and its deep installation field site. At the load cell facility, Dr. Teruhisa Masada and Dr. Sargand have focused on testing performance of thermoplastic pipe structures under various backfill conditions, performance of pipe under shallow cover, performance of concrete pipe with steel and olefin fibers, and subsurface studies. ORITE researchers also have studied structural performance of thermoplastic pipe under deep backfill conditions at the deep installation site.