& Focus Areas
As a multi-stakeholder centre based at TWI in Cambridge, NIC will conduct a research programme covering technologies with different maturity levels spread through Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 1-9. Partners are drawn from leading academic institutions, research centres and composite material manufacturers. NIC will hold an annual Technical Advisory Board (TAB) meeting to gather advice and recommend actions for the development of research strategies. Furthermore, it is essential to explore and identify novel research opportunities and accelerate development by highlighting and prioritising collaboration.
NIC is part of the Private Technology Innovation Partnership (PTIP) initiative at TWI. PTIPs work to address their technology priorities, fostering innovation and working towards commercialisation of technology with their sponsors and supply chain.
The aims of PTIPs are to:
Grow the knowledge-based economy
Strengthen talent bases through strong academia-industry linkages
NIC conducted an investigation into the low adoption rate of non-metallic pipes in the O&G industry. It revealed that the primary obstacles were the performance envelope constraints, in the presence of complex fluid, that need to be expanded.
This low adoption rate is perpetuated by a lack of reliable inspection and fitness for service assessment methodologies for in-service composite pipes.
Based on collected inspection and monitoring data, repair and maintenance approaches can be identified and selected with minimum effect on operation conditions.
Following the implementation of this new technology, improvements to existing standards and the development of new guidelines and standards, including product qualifications, installation procedures and fitness for service assessments, will be essential.
NIC’s development activities will, therefore, focus initially on four key areas related to composite pipes:
Expanding Operating Envelope
Spoolable Composite Pipes (SCPs) for sour hydrocarbon service technologies are generating significant interest around the world. The products consist of at least three layers of materials: an internal polymeric layer, a fibre-reinforced intermediate layer and an outer cover. SCPs can be divided into three sub-categories: Reinforced Thermoplastic Pipe (RTP), Spoolable Glass Reinforced Epoxy Pipe (S-GRE) and Thermoplastic Composite Pipe (TCP). In RTPs and S-GREs, the layers are either unbonded or semi-bonded, whereas in TCPs all the layers are fully bonded. Although SCPs entered the market initially for water applications in the O&G industry, they are increasingly being utilised for hydrocarbon transport within this industry. To further increase their implementation, it is necessary to expand the SCPs operating window in terms of temperature and pressure, and cost effectiveness.
Inspection & Condition Monitoring
Piping systems deteriorate with time because of both mechanical and chemico-physical degradation. Statistics show that most failures of composite pipes take place at the joints, particularly for Reinforced Thermosetting Resin (RTR) pipes. NIC is, therefore, focusing on the development of cost-effective inspection and monitoring techniques for composite pipes and joints. Specifically for threaded RTR pipe joints, engineers at NIC are currently exploring the development of a novel structural health monitoring system using a network of magnetostrictive filaments.
Integrity Assessment & Maintenance
There is a lack of integrity assessment procedures to quantify the severity of defects and flaws in nonmetallic pipes. Part of the NIC research portfolio has been dedicated to developing reliable integrity assessment procedures that help operators and engineers to take appropriate repair and maintenance decisions. These procedures, which are common in the assessment of metallic pipes, will allow detected flaws to be deemed acceptable or not for the remaining lifetime of a pipeline, potentially avoiding unnecessary costly repairs. If the latter is required, the development of cost effective repair procedures will improve the viability of non-metallic pipe technologies.
The adaptation of non-metallic composite pipes with expanded operating envelope will require testing and qualification procedures. The researchers at NIC are therefore aiming to improve the existing standards and develop new ones that cover manufacturing and installation procedures in addition to fitness for service assessment regulations.