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New Tech Inspects Hard-to-Reach Pipeline

Friday, June 16, 2017

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A newly patented technology from Southwest Research Institute is aimed at the often difficult task of inspecting coatings on pipelines that were installed via horizontal directional drilling.

SwRI’s new technology uses a magnetic field sensor array that’s placed in the pipeline after installation via HDD, sending back information that engineers can analyze in order to identify any coating damage that may have occurred during the installation process.

Horizontal directional drilling
© iStock.com / 1001slide

HDD is a trenchless method that’s often used for the installation of pipelines under obstacles such as bodies of water, roadways or railroad tracks.

“It is important to determine the condition of the coating on the pipeline segment immediately after installation,” explains Jay Fisher, the co-inventor of the technology. “Understanding the extent of any damage to the coating will help determine if it is too severe to be protected by a cathodic protection system, which inhibits the oxidation process and prevents corrosion, or whether it can be repaired or needs to be replaced before it is placed into service.”

HDD Inspection Challenges

HDD is a trenchless method that’s often used for the installation of pipelines under obstacles such as bodies of water, roadways or railroad tracks. Access above pipelines installed this way is limited, so alternative methods of coating inspection are required.

SwRI says that currently available technology can detect coating problems on these pipelines, but in a limited fashion.

“Our system provides a significant improvement over existing technologies that are only capable of estimating the extent of coating damage but do not provide information about the configuration of that damage,” says Pavan Shukla, the method’s other inventor.

The new SwRI technology provides information that can help engineers understand the location, configuration and extent of the damage.

According to SwRI, the newly patented inspection method is undergoing field testing before it can be released commercially.

   

Tagged categories: Coating inspection; Pipeline; Research and development; Southwest Research Institute

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