Aquatherm PP-R for District Heating

With targets set to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, district heating has been identified as a key way to help reduce CO2 emissions.

Aquatherm PP-R pipes produce less CO2 emissions during production compared to steel pipes and they also save on installation costs due to the speed of installing the pipe in the trench.

  • How will district heating help to reduce CO2 emissions?

  • As part of the district heating system design, the water will be heated at source rather than at each of the properties providing a more efficient system overall.

    This also allows the operators of the system to select an energy source that is less reliant on fossil fuels and more aligned to renewables.

  • How will Aquatherm improve the network?

  • Aquatherm pre-insulated PP-R pipes come in sizes up to 355mm and since aquatherm pipes do not corrode or scale up - due to the smoothness of the inner wall, the pumping power required will be less than for the steel equivalent - resulting in savings on the life cycle costs of the system.

    Aquatherm District Heating Pipe
    Aquatherm District Heating Pipe

    How long will Aquatherm PP-R pipes last?

    The CIBSE code of practice requires that plastics pipes should have a minimum of 30 years life expectancy for district heating networks. The life of Aquatherm pipes for district heating depends on the temperatures and pressures used.

    CIBSE guidelines are that district heating networks should be run at a flow of 80°C for existing buildings with a return temperature of 60°C. With these temperatures and 6 bar of pressure, Aquatherm SDR9 PP-R will have a minimum service life in excess of 50 years. If flow and returns are switched during the life of the system this service life can be extended further.

    CIBSE guidelines for new building services systems aim for a flow temperature of 70°C. This would allow pressures of up to 10.2 bar for a 50 year service life and any lower pressure would extend this service life.

    These service life expectancies are based on the system running at this constant temperature all year. However, a district heating system will not run at the maximum temperature all year and this will result in an extended service life of the pipework.

    For a minimum service life for your estimated temperature and pressure profiles, please contact us at

    Potential savings from using Aquatherm PP-R pipes instead of steel?

    The main costs associated with district heat networks are the capital costs and the running costs.

    Capital costs

    It can take 2 hours to weld DN200 Steel pipe and numerous people to manoeuvre it. Aquatherm Pre-insulated PP-R DN200 pipe can be fused in 41 minutes (Butt welded) and only requires 2 people to manoeuvre the pipe due to it's light weight compared to steel pipes.

    The light weight of the PP-R pipe reduces the number of people in attendance plus the added advantage of reduced pipe systems due to the flexibility of the pipework.

    Running costs

    Aquatherm pipes could give a saving of 15% on power costs due to losses compared to steel with a flow running at 80°C and a return running at 60°C.

    Due to the roughness of the steel pipe and the build up of scale internally, the steel system will require higher power costs for pumping than a PP-R system. As the system gets older the scale and the roughness will increase thereby increasing the costs even further for a steel system.