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NIC Innovations Presented at KAUST Composites Event

Thu, 13 July, 2023

NIC expert and TWI Consultant, Chris Worrall recently presented at the ‘KAUST Energizing Composites’ event at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

The event, which took place 12-14 July 2023, provided a high-level forum to openly discuss the latest developments related to composites for energy applications. This included sessions on the integrity management of pipes, large scale composites, monitoring and inspection, multifunctional composites, and composites for hydrogen.

Chris’ presentation focused on the next generation reinforced thermosetting resin (RTR) composite pipe connections for the Oil and Gas industry, where huge opportunities exist for replacing traditional metallic pipes with non-metallic alternatives.

Offering the promise of significant cost savings by eliminating corrosion, a review by the NIC concluded that one of the medium-term gaps in the industry is the development of new connections and sealing systems for large diameter (>16”) high-pressure (>1500 psi) applications.

The presentation discussed the work of the NIC in developing an innovative new method for joining reinforced RTR composite pipes that has the potential to replace adhesive joint and sealing gasket technologies, contributing to a more reliable joining solution for the oil and gas industry.

This innovation replaces adhesives with a welded solution that uses a thermoplastic interlayer that acts as both a joining element and a seal, when the right materials are selected and the welding process is carried out correctly.

However, welding thermoset composites is not straightforward. Depositing the thermoplastic layer on the surface of the thermoset has to be carried out in a way that not only provides sufficient adhesion strength, but is also compatible with 16-inch pipe diameters.

To solve this, the NIC has developed a friction welding approach that deposits a layer of thermoplastic onto both surfaces of the GRE components. This layer is then trimmed, allowing the pipes and coupler to be joined in the field, using either a friction process or another welding process, such as induction welding.

The process, which is under development, has already successfully joined RTR composite pipes of up to 200mm (8-inch) in diameter, and there are now plans to extend the capability to accommodate 16-inch pipes.

The benefits of this approach include being easy to automate and less reliant on manpower expertise, leading to the potential for more reliable connections over time.

We were honoured to be able to present at this event and share the details of our innovative research.