One of the less-discussed aspects of installing a pipeline is that of cathodic protection. Cathodic protection systems on pipelines are designed to help prevent rust on the pipeline and its associated components.This is often accomplished by  placing a series of anodes along the pipeline and running an electric current through them. Without flashing back to physics class too much, the pipeline becomes like a giant battery, getting rid of the oxygen around the pipeline as part of a huge electric circuit.

Pipeline contractors working on agricultural lands have an additional hurdle to jump when keeping cathodic protection in mind: drain tile repair. Although it is critical that repaired drain tiles are kept on grade, it is also essential that the structures utilized to maintain this do not interfere with the pipeline’s cathodic protection system.  

The problem with many single-piece tile bridges is that they disrupt this cathodic protection system. Moisture in the soil can’t get through a plastic bridge, and that disrupts the current and weakens cathodic protection. Steel bridges might be even worse, as their metal material basically grounds the charge entirely.

There are two solutions: Sandbag bridges or finding a new material that doesn’t create the same problems.

“Why bother finding a new material?” some might ask. “Sandbags have always been the go-to bridge material, and it seems like they’ll work better here too.”

It’s true…sandbags do well to protect cathodic protection. But it’s also one of the only things they do well (if you want to learn how sandbags also lose contractors time and money, check out this post).

We designed Mad Dog Foam Bridges to fix all of the weaknesses of sandbag bridges. But we also needed to make sure we didn’t screw up what they had done right, including preserving cathodic protection. This meant making a single-piece bridge that would allow the flow of water. Our high-density polypropylene foam was just the solution we needed. Stronger than sand and just as friendly to moisture.

Don’t just take our word for it: We hired Det Norske Veritas—a Best European Business nominee for 2015-’16 known for advising environmentally-friendly energy projects—to test Mad Dog Foam Bridges. We passed with flying colors.

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Exposed for weeks to water vapor, our bridges gained more than 25 percent in water weight, which means that it was absorbing water and letting it pass through. This is huge for cathodic protection. Mad Dog Foam Bridges don’t interfere with the movement of moisture, something that both plastic and steel alternatives can’t say.

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That’s great news for contractors who want to get rid of the financial and manpower headaches that sandbags provide. Now there’s a single-piece bridge that performs comparably.

Contractors aren’t the only people that Mad Dog Foam Bridges is trying to please, of course. The majority of drain tile repair happens on farmland, and making sure that crops are protected is just as important.

And yes: The movement of moisture through our foam bridges is just as big a deal to farmers as it is to pipeline contractors. They might not be too concerned with the effects of cathodic protection, but if H2O starts moving unnaturally, their crops are usually the thing that suffers. A good, clean transfer of moisture means that the drain tile bridges on their land aren’t working as a dam.

Contractors are happy. Farmers are happy. That sounds like a win-win. Mad Dog Foam Bridges leave everybody happy.

Download the full report here