Skip to content

covering technologies with different maturity levels


As a multi-stakeholder centre based at TWI in Cambridge, the NIC conducts 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. The NIC holds 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:

  • Promote innovation

  • Grow the knowledge-based economy​

  • Strengthen talent bases through strong academia-industry links

  • Boost entrepreneurship

Focus Areas

The NIC conducted an investigation into the low adoption rate of non-metallic pipes in the oil and gas 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 (FFS) 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 the operating envelope

Inspection and condition monitoring

Integrity assessment and maintenance


non-metallic-expanding-operation-envelopeExpanding the 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 oil and gas industry, they are increasingly being utilised for hydrocarbon transport within the sector. To further increase their implementation, it is necessary to expand the SCPs operating window in terms of temperature and pressure, and cost effectiveness. 



non-metallic-inspection-condition-monitoringInspection and Condition Monitoring

Piping systems deteriorate with time because of both mechanical and chemico-physical degradation. Statistics show that most failures in 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 exploring the development of a novel structural health monitoring system using a network of magnetostrictive filaments.



non-metallic-integrity-assessment-maintenanceIntegrity Assessment and Maintenance

There is a lack of integrity assessment procedures to quantify the severity of defects and flaws in non-metallic 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 an expanded operating envelope will require testing and qualification procedures. The researchers at NIC, therefore, aim to improve existing standards as well as develop new ones that cover manufacturing and installation procedures, in addition to fitness for service assessment regulations.