A new paper describes the findings from the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (EPCRC). The body, established in 2009, research and educate Australia’s energy pipelines industry.
EPCRC is a user-led body with participants from industry and academia. The organisation pursued four research programs and made particular headway on corrosion control.
Corrosion control is a significant concern for those in the pipeline industry. Corrosion can cause severe damage over time to pipelines. With it, there is an increase in the risk of leaks, accidents and spills. It also reduces overall performance. Mitigating corrosion in energy pipelines is therefore crucial. With improvements, it can ensure the long-term viability of the industry.
Research program 2 (RP2) focused on corrosion control. It centred on several areas for mitigating corrosion. The purpose of such was to extend the life of both existing and future pipelines. The research focused on predicting:
- Pipeline lifespans
- Cathodic protection
- Pipeline coatings
- Stress corrosion cracking (SCC)
The findings turned up essential insights. It also offered positive areas for further studies where results were less conclusive.
Breaking RP2 down into different research strands reflects the broad aims of this project and how EPCRC seeks to mitigate corrosion. These key aims include:
- Assessing the damage caused by cathodic protection excursions
- Developing a system to improve pipeline life prediction for asset management
- Improving knowledge of pipelines’ microstructure and chemical compositions
Research on the first of these aims resulted in a pivotal change to the criteria for short excursions in AS 2832.1. This modification to the requirements should reduce damage from stray current and traction.
In the second instance, the study recommended the use of an empirical and deterministic tool. These tools can help with modelling and improve prediction. This find should help asset managers. With this information, they can better manage their pipeline assets. Also, they can better integrate assessments about life expectancy into their modelling.
Findings suggest that SCC affects nearly identical pipes in different ways. Ultimately, local metallurgical factors impact SCC significantly. This third area of research aims to relate the manufacturing of pipes to microstructures less susceptible to SCC. The hope is to establish if modern lines could prove more resistant to SCC when protective coating fails.
Each project should prove valuable in assessing corrosion control for the pipeline industry. Its findings are suggestive, whether or not each one turned up conclusive results. Where the results are less definite, the process should encourage further studies.
Further study will likely produce vital results or indicate ongoing research will continue to be productive. We see this in the case of the SCC research, for instance. It provides the industry with the hope it can make further breakthroughs on pipe microstructures.
On the back of the EPCRC’s successful research, the Australian government announced a new program in 2018. The program will study new and emerging fuel sources. Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation Zed Seselja confirmed that $26.25 million would go to the Future Fuels CRC (FFCRC). The project aims to support the pipeline industry’s infrastructure in transitioning and adjusting to emerging fuels and technologies.