Sunday, December 4, 2011


We are a nation of pipelines.  Many of these support our hydrocarbon infrastructure.  Many of these miles of pipelines are also very old - - because of the corrosive natural of most hydrocarbons, damage to the pipework is a constant risk.  Holes in oil pipelines (any pipeline for that matter) can cause not only a shutdown, but also a risk to life and the environment.

Enter Peter Cawley, Imperial College, London and a company called Permasense that has been set up to commercialize a new way to think about corrosion monitoring in the context of many chemical plants and refineries.  Currently, tracking corrosion means inspecting miles pipes using ultrasonic scanners that measure thickness of a pipe wall by timing the reflections of pulses of sound from its internal and external surfaces.  In the case of a refinery, this requires a plant shut down dealing with extremely hot pipe sections.  Typically this type of monitoring is completed every four years - - wide safety margins then have to be imposed to ensure there is no rapid deterioration.

Permasense's secret is the methodology they utilize to attach scanners to pipes - - speciality shaped stainless steel that acts as both a poor conductor of heat and shaped to act as waveguides.  You end up with better signal quality and a platform for continuous monitoring - - this doesn't prevent corrosion, it does let operators and engineers sleep better at night.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.