Petra Acquires Trenchless Tunneling Company Zilper to Enable Utility Undergrounding Through any Nightmare Geology
Zilper’s unique boring solution for soft ground and cobbles expands Petra’s market into hurricane prone coasts and other nightmare geologies, protecting communities from the effects of climate change
September 15, 2022, SAN FRANCISCO– Petra, the first company capable of undergrounding critical utility infrastructure from difficult hard rock to soft ground geologies, announced the acquisition of Zilper Trenchless, a pioneer in the trenchless technology space. Zilper Trenchless machines uniquely install critical utility infrastructure through nightmare geologies such as flowing sands, cobbles, and high water table environments.
The vast majority of the world’s electric, water, and sewer utilities were not designed to withstand the storms, extreme heat, and drought brought on by climate change and rapid population growth. Above-ground power lines have caused thousands of wildfires in drought prone areas and blackouts during hurricanes. In coastal areas, increased flooding and sea level rise cause sewage to leach into waterways. There is a growing demand by municipalities to expand underground utilities, but in many populated areas with hard and soft ground nightmare geologies, conventional technology has difficulty boring through flowing sand, high water table content, and cobbles. According to the Black & Veatch 2022 Water Report, the United States would need to increase its investment in water infrastructure by $2.2 trillion over the next 20 years, or roughly $109 billion per year to close the water industry’s current investment gap.
“Changing ground conditions are the biggest risk in undergrounding,” said Petra CEO Kim Abrams. “The world needs a more versatile tool that can derisk undergrounding projects by boring through more geologies, especially nightmare geologies. Zilper has built trenchless products that can uniquely bore through some of the riskiest soft ground conditions on earth like flowing sands, dense clay, cobbles and water logged ground. The Zilper machine is innovative because it dramatically reduces the risk of excavating these nightmare geologies. The proprietary Zilper technology suite has successfully completed numerous trenchless tunnels where competing technologies have failed to deliver. Together, we’re building the future of trenchless tunneling.”
The combined company, in an industry first, will be delivering a solution that de-risks the social, environmental, and economic costs of utility undergrounding in hard and soft soils. Zilper’s trenchless technology has been used for sewage, transmission, and water projects. The versatility of the Zilper method enables it to work in extremely complicated conditions. For example, on a recently completed job to clean up waterways, Zilper installed a 16 inch metal casing beneath a river while encountering flowing sands with less than 5ft of cover, a feat unique to Petra capabilities.
“The combination of Petra and Zilper brings together complementary teams and technologies,” said former CEO of Zilper and new COO of Petra Daniel Zillante. “We’ve both been building methods to excavate problematic geologies in the underground industry. Combined, Zilper and Petra provide a complete undergrounding solution to construction and utility companies who need to de-risk undergrounding projects and bore through all geologies.”
Petra will begin manufacturing Zilper’s technologies in the United States in September 2022 for introduction to the US and European Markets in early 2023.
Zilper’s co-founders, Daniel Zillante and Robeto Zillante will join Petra’s leadership team as COO and CTO. Roberto will become Petra’s new CTO, bringing 15 years of trenchless machine design expertise to the company. Daniel will join as Petra’s COO, bringing years of operational and strategic experience in the trenchless industry to Petra. Zilper and its founders have won over 15 awards and recognitions for their work, including the Best New Trenchless Equipment at the Latin America Conference of Trenchless Technology in 2019.
Petra safeguards communities with cutting-edge technology that bores through previously impenetrable geologies. Petra’s Zilper platform is the first trenchless tunneling technology that derisks undergrounding projects. Construction companies, municipalities, and utilities can now bury critical infrastructure at scale. Learn how Petra can help you underground utilities at www.petra.cc.
Created at MIT, Zilper grew from 2 founders to 31 people in just three years. With more than 3,000 feet of pipeline installed, Zilper’s patented technology reached product-market fit in record-breaking time. More recently, the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT) has included Zilper’s Assisted Dynamic Boring machine in their official guidelines, which has led to impressive traction in international markets.