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Maturation of Real-time Active Pipeline Integrity Detection System for Natural Gas Pipelines



Current natural gas pipelines are at risk of suffering mechanical damage either by degradation, third party strikes or natural events, (e.g. landslides, earthquake-induced liquefaction or other ground movement). When such damage is located, the pipe must be exposed and inspected to determine if the damaged areas require repair or replacement. There is no reliable, built in, non-destructive method for determining if the damage is sufficient to have a material effect on operational safety. Current inspection techniques for damage from impacts, fatigue, or corrosion generally require the pipeline to be shut down during inspection, resulting in loss of revenue and economic benefits. Acellent developed a Real-time Active Pipeline Integrity Detection (RAPID) system that is designed for gas pipelines for monitoring corrosion, cracks and leaks. The core of the system is an integrated structural health monitoring (SHM) technology that originated in the aerospace industry and is increasingly being evaluated by the pipeline industry for improving the safety and reliability of pipeline structures. Significant benefits are expected in all fields of application to reduce the maintenance costs and to improve the efficiency of the structural design. The aim of this technology is not simply to detect structural failure, but to provide an early indication of physical damage. The early warning provided by an SHM system can then be used to define remedial strategies before the structural damage leads to catastrophic failure. This paper will provide an overview of a two-year research and development program funded by the California Energy Commission for the maturation of the RAPID system and its testing and validation with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in San Ramon, CA. Current results have shown the system to be reliable and effective for the early detection of pipeline damage, and the technology has been deemed to be effective for in-field gas pipeline safety monitoring.

doi: 10.12783/SHM2015/50

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