What Is an Open-End Pipe Pile?
It is useful to define an open-end pipe pile in relation to the alternative, a closed-end pipe pile. A closed end pipe pile has a bottom opening that is covered with a steel plate or conical tip. This steel plate is sometimes referred to as an end cap. Open end pipe piles do not have an end cap (steel plate or conical tip). Both closed end pipe piles and open-end pipe piles come with unique advantages that make them better suited to particular applications. Open end pipe piles are much easier to drive into hard soils than closed end piles. Open end piles are an excellent choice for applications that involve driving piles into soil that contains rock layers and small boulders.
It is common for open end pipe piles to be fitted with driving shoes. Driving shoes increase the toe capacity of piles and help prevent damage and fracture due to stress and pressure. Because soil plugs frequently form in open end pipe piles, a water jet may be used inside the pipe pile to remove soil. If soil plugs do not present a problem during the pile driving process, they do not necessarily have to be removed. If open end pipe piles are filled with concrete, soil must be removed from inside of them before a pour begins.
Open End Pipe Pile Applications
Open end pipe pile is particularly popular for projects involving oil and gas platforms as well as wind turbines. It is the pipe pile of choice for the energy sector for many applications. Open end pipe piles provide resistance in the face of tidal forces and heavy winds, and they are ideal for driving into marine as well as extra rocky areas. Open end pipe piles can be particularly helpful for applications that require superior columnar strength. Jetties and berths are good examples of this.
As mentioned, open end pipe piles are the better choice (as opposed to closed end pipe piles) for driving into hard soils. They are also specifically a better option for the following two types of soil conditions:
- When a dense layer of soil is beneath a soft layer of soil: In these soil conditions, soil is often removed from inside the pipe piles, and the piles are filled with concrete.
- When a dense layer of soil is beneath a layer of soil with medium density: In these soil conditions, open end pipe piles are almost always preferable as opposed to closed end pipe piles because driving closed end pipe piles through soil of medium density and then significant density is quite a challenge.
In sandy areas or areas where soil is not particularly dense or hard, closed end pipe piles may be a more useful choice. Both open end pipe pile and closed end pipe pile are widely available in a variety of sizes, configurations, and strengths. Choosing the proper pipe pile for your project should take into consideration factors like soil type, load bearing capability requirements, overall needs of the project, weather and climate conditions, etc. Luckily, there are a wide array of both new and used pipe pile options on the market, and finding the right pipe pile for your job should be fairly simple!
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