The energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre and Deakin University of Australia are working on an innovative sensor able to monitor corrosion-related pipeline damage. It works by performing electrochemical corrosion rate measurements on underground pipelines.
Typically, coatings are used to prevent corrosion. However, over time the coatings cease to be effective, resulting in leaks or failure. Many major gas explosions are attributable to such corrosion and leaks. The current means of finding corrosion problems are only effective after damage is greater than 30% of the pipe’s wall thickness. Corrosion monitoring is also very expensive now, requiring manual ultrasonic measurements and often digging up pipe, removing coatings, etc.
The new sensor technology is based on ongoing real-time monitoring of the protection used on the pipes. The sensor monitors and identifies corrosion well before it becomes a catastrophic event.
So far, tests are lab-based, but are expected to move into the field in a real underground pipeline yet this year. While the sensor is being designed specifically for oil and gas pipeline applications, it’s easy to imagine a broad range of industrial applications where corrosion occurs and testing is cumbersome or close to impossible, as with underground pipes.
— Carolyn Mathas is a freelance blogger and editor for EE Times' Industrial Control Designline