Carbon fibre composites – extending asset life

Advanced carbon fibre composites would seem to have all the answers for the pipeline industry in its on-going challenge to maintain pipeline integrity. Where external corrosion has occurred a composites repair can prevent this continuing. Unrestricted by pipe diameter large or small (from 1 to 60 inches and more), or by length, these repairs are typically designed for a 25 year or more life, or to a time span to suit the requirements. And the more advanced composites can cater for high pressures (209 bar is the current highest in operation), and temperatures (up to 200°C). Above all, composites can provide a rehabilitation solution where often the only other alternative would be shutdown and welding or replacement.

Advanced composites technology has a great deal to offer in restoring and maintaining pipeline integrity, extending asset life. The resulting repair has ten times the strength of steel, and twice the stiffness, yet is light in weight (just a quarter the density of steel). Moreover, the boundaries of the technology’s capabilities are constantly being extended by FD Alliance – an alliance between Furmanite and DML Composites, a leading player in the field.

One key example lies in the ability to restore not just pressure integrity and containment, but structural strength too. Many composites providers will cater for pressure integrity only (in other words, the hoop load), whereas the ability to restore or uprate structural strength, accounting for both hoop and axial loads, requires more advanced engineering – and is something that FD Alliance is able to offer, drawing on its extensive experience in composites structures of all sorts.

With so many significant advantages – including substantial cost-savings – to offer in the on-going challenge to maintain pipeline integrity, and numerous successful illustrations demonstrating proven experience and capability, it is not surprising that advanced carbon fibre composites technology from FD Alliance is attracting increasing attention. What is important now is to ensure that, because standards in the industry vary, the pipeline operator knows what to look for, so that the very real benefits of this technology can be enjoyed with total confidence.

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