Tubular Piles - Steel Structures.

Tubular piles were first used as foundations for offshore oil platforms in the oil fields of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela in the 1920s. Initially, spare oil pipe was used out of convenience but, as the supporting structures became more sophisticated, the cold rolling of piles in structural plate to project-specific diameters and wall thicknesses became more common.

Purpose-rolled tubular piles can be used, but high quality steel line pipe is perfectly suitable for piling. Tubular piles are available in a large range of diameters and wall thicknesses. Typical sections used for piling purposes are produced as line pipe to API 5L grades X52 (yield stress of 52ksi, approximately equal to 355N/mm2) to X80 (yield stress of 80ksi, approximately equal to 555N/mm2).

Tubular sections can be hot- or cold-rolled. The cold-rolling process produces consistently higher yield strengths than those of hot-rolled steel products and this can have significant benefits for highly loaded bearing pile and structural column-pile applications, and can also permit harder driving.

Steel tubular piles have a high stiffness and are therefore also suitable for sites where it is necessary to transfer bearing loads into buried bedrock. They are particularly suitable for marine structures, especially where sited in deep water, e.g. berthing jetties for deep draught vessels. Increasing use is being made of steel tubulars in composite columns for buildings and bridges where the tube is first driven as a pile before filling the upstand above ground level with a reinforced concrete core for added strength and rigidity. This permits significant savings in cost due to faster construction.More applications will become possible as the results of research into the effects of pile driving, dynamic load testing, corrosion, and new coatings are analysed and reported to design engineers.

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