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July 31, 2017 / Klaas van Alphen
Category: Research Update 

Research Update July 2017

This month the June 2017 quarterly research progress was completed. Some highlights from the 26 active research projects during this quarter are summarised below.

Three projects in Research Program 3 ‘Advanced Pipeline Design and Construction’ were completed this quarter. The final report for project ‘RP3-07: Construction Strain Demand on Coatings’, which aims to determine the fields of strain demand during normal hydrostatic test and cold field bending practices is available on the Energy Pipelines CRC website members’ area. The project was initiated because recent pipeline construction activities have been found to have damaged field joint coatings and pipe coatings during hydrostatic testing and cold field bending. The project team has analysed large amounts of strain data obtained from full scale hydrostatic tests and cold field bending tests using a Digital Image Correlation (DIC) technique. The report describes maximum strain correlation in a hydrostatic test and proposes a correction of Bilston & Murray cold field bending strains predictions.

As part of previous EPCRC studies of pressure and temperature during pipeline emptying and filling, two full-scale natural gas pipeline blowdowns including the in-situ measurements of gas pressure and pipe wall temperature were carried out. This work resulted in a ‘generalized blowdown model’. Project RP3-12A, builds on this work and checked the capability of a number of models which designers may use to predict metal temperature during blowdown events, for use in design. The work showed that none of the models reasonably predicted the measured temperature data. Accordingly, the report recommends that none of the models should be used for design purposes unless they have been specifically calibrated against measured data. This finding is helpful in that it will prevent inaccurate data being used for design. Future work may lead to development of analytical methods that can more accurately predict the metal temperatures in these models.

The final report describing research with the objective to develop a better understanding of the characteristics of pipeline blowdowns in remote areas has been completed (RP3-11A). The project involved dispersion modelling of natural gas during the blowdown over a flat and undulating terrain and estimations of the potential for ignition of the flammable gas. The project also studied the noise levels generated during various blowdown scenarios. The development of these noise prediction models are supported by jet-noise experiments in the anechoic chamber at University of Adelaide and far field noise recording taken during a full scale blowdown at Bungama (SA) in October 2016 and at Bethungra (NSW) in May 2017. These outcomes are being utilised in the next phase of the project that is currently active and focusses on blowdowns in built up areas and result in a guideline for the design and operation of vents taking into account the relation between noise attenuation and ignition potential.

Highlights in relation to RP4 for this quarter include the Hierarchy of Controls (RP4-25) workshop held in May 2017. The workshop which involved pipeline owners, designers and Safety Management Study (SMS) facilitators was used to brainstorm possible pipeline protection controls against a range of scenarios. These were then compared to those contained in AS 2885 with the aim to make recommendations on improvements that can be made to the Standard. The workshop report will be completed next month and made available to members of the APGA RSC.

The RP4 RMIT researchers were also actively involved in significant research dissemination activities during this quarter. They have presented several talks in different events ranging from the API Pipeline Conference and the Joint Technical Meeting in the USA, to the Engineers Australia Young Engineers breakfast in Sydney. The last presentation focussed on the personal liability of engineers and the impact on high stakes decision making.

The June quarterly progress report provides an update on other RP4 projects, including project RP4-26 ‘Economic and technical regulation’, which addresses the extent to which the long term integrity of the gas transmission network, and so long term public safety outcomes, is influenced by economic regulation. Significant progress has been made this quarter with over 40 interviews being completed with technical regulators, economic regulators, transmission pipeline companies and distribution network companies. Pipelines and networks (with full, light or no economic regulation) operating in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia, NT, ACT and Western Australia have been covered and a significant review of literature has been completed. An interim report describing the preliminary results is due for industry review next month.

Progress in Research Program 2 ‘Pipeline life extension’ includes the start of a new project RP6.2-05 ‘High voltage holiday testing of dual layer FBE’, which will examine the change in allowable holiday testing voltage that dual layer fusion bonded epoxy (FBE) coatings can be subjected to when exposed to moisture thereby simulating the possible state of such coatings when tested after departing the coating applicator sites.

Project RP2-12 ‘Cathodic shielding and corrosion under disbonded coatings’ resulted in some interesting interim findings about the “non-shielding coatings’. The experimental results show that a high local pH is the key to preventing corrosion under disbonded coatings, therefore, non-shielding coatings appear to be those that, when disbonded from pipeline, are able to create and maintain a high pH at the coating-steel interface.

Initial progress on a newly commenced project on pipeline condition monitoring (RP2-13) lay out plans for a wire beam electrode based platform for data storage, information visualisation and analysis. The research team involved in RP2-15 ‘Prediction-Based Decision Support Framework for Integrity Management’ reported significant progress on the development of industry-relevant decision models and the overall processes for integrity management that utilise them.

Finally, the second phase of project ‘Understanding SCC initiation in gas transmission pipelines’ (RP6.2-03) has been completed last month and results of the effects of pre-pitting and acid pickling of polished and grit blasted surfaces on high pH SCC behaviour has been reported. The final report of this project has been is now available on EPCRC website members’ area. 

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