Element develops thermoplastic pipe repair technology

Materials testing specialist Element says its U.K. facility has developed equipment and test methodologies for continuous quality control and repair of reinforced thermoplastic pipes during the manufacturing process.

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Materials testing specialist Element (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) reported on April 15 that its Hitchin, U.K., facility has successfully completed a groundbreaking proof-of-concept research project to design and build equipment for the continuous quality control and repairing of reinforced thermoplastic pipes during the manufacturing process.

Element says this represents a first-of-its-kind capability for the oil and gas sector. The company says the research has significant commercial implications for the industry, which is shifting away from a reliance on metallic pipes towards lighter, more flexible and resistant composite materials.

During the two-and-a-half-year project, which cost £620,000, Element Hitchin worked in partnership with global manufacturer GE Oil & Gas and non-destructive equipment specialists Wavelength NDT, with the venture part-funded by the U.K. government via the Technology Strategy Board.

Element Hitchin designed and built equipment and test methodologies to ultrasonically detect critical flaws in thermoplastic polymer pipes during the continuous manufacturing process. In addition to physical testing, the team of experts used finite element analysis (FEA) to simulate various environments, applying ultrasonic data to complex models. The consortium also created a prototype machine to repair sections of pipe where flaws or delamination would reduce mechanical strength or accelerate material aging.