Lab Investigates Sensors for Pipeline Corrosion


In order to help address the ongoing fight against pipeline corrosion, the National Energy Technology Laboratory recently announced that it was assessing current and emerging technologies, with a focus specifically on how sensors can be used to monitor pipeline health.

According to the NETL, the U.S. has 400,000 miles of oil and natural gas pipelines. Researchers are taking a look at fiber-optic, passive wireless and electrochemical sensing options.

Pipeline Corrosion Sensors

In this assessment, the team compared conventional corrosion sensors with newer technologies, focusing on sensor design and functionality. Optical fiber sensors, for example, can help monitor pipeline health in a nondestructive way, while also providing better safety options in environments with natural gas or oil, in comparison with electrical sensors.

Additionally, distributed chemical sensing is an emerging option that shows promise in facilitating intervention before significant levels of corrosion strike by reading conditions. Currently, lab research is focusing on implementing DCS within oil and gas pipelines to examine for signs of corrosion, including direct mass loss, condensed aqueous phases and acidic gases.

Another option is passive wireless sensors, a measure that can transmit energy and data without electrical wiring. The technology is also low cost, and is adaptable to inaccessible areas.

Electrochemical sensors, a technology that is still currently in development, show promise in allowing for monitoring humidity and corrosion in high-risk areas in a natural gas pipeline.

“With any research endeavor, it’s important to ensure you’re pursuing answers to a question that hasn’t already been answered," said research coordinator and lab materials scientist Paul R. Ohodnicki Jr. "The first step is to consult the existing scientific literature and learn from other researchers’ discoveries to focus your work on the most promising technologies.

“Our review provides a foundation for NETL and researchers elsewhere to build upon as we seek innovative ways to protect America’s pipelines and other critical oil and gas infrastructure.”

The NETL’s research was recently published in peer-reviewed journal Sensors.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Corrosion protection; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines; Quality Control; Research and development

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.