Pipe corrosion is a serious issue for the oil and gas industry. An entrepreneurial PhD student has invented a breakthrough sensing technology in response to the industrial need for remote corrosion inspection and monitoring.
The sensor is a ‘waveguide’ in the form of a thin flexible cord that is permanently installed along a pipe. It chemically reacts to the corrosive environment around it and uses algorithms to find the location of corrosion on the external surface of the pipe.
It was based on an idea by one of our PhD students, Prafull Sharma, and Emeritus Professor Hoi Yeung.
The innovation was runner-up in Excellence in the field of Environmental Technology Research Award at CleanEquity Monaco 2016.
- Funded by £15,000 loan from our Pre-seed Fund.
Impact of our research
Corrosion across a vast and complex system can then be monitored from a central control room. This vastly reduces the time and expense of inspecting pipes manually. Maintenance teams can be directed to the precise location of the corroded pipe – and rather than it being a ‘blind’ inspection, they know exactly what they are looking for.
This means large cost savings for owners and operators of natural gas and oil pipelines, power plants and refineries, utilities, and other facilities with buried or insulated pipe and storage tanks.
Why the research was commissioned
The oil and gas industries rely on miles and miles of pipelines. These might be in refineries, offshore and onshore platforms, as well as power plants. Many of these pipelines are exposed to the harshest elements in subsea or offshore environments – wave movement, corrosive salt water, and wind – as well as transporting vast amounts of materials that are valuable and potentially hazardous to the environment.
There is an industrial need for remote corrosion inspection and monitoring which enables the pinpointing of corrosion in the most difficult, inhospitable and inaccessible environments including pipe racks, pipe bends and buried pipelines.
The idea was proven in Cranfield’s oil and gas laboratories.
The idea was pitched at Cranfield Venture Day where it attracted a £15,000 loan from a Pre-seed Fund.
With continued mentoring from the Bettany Centre for the entrepreneur and his venture, our Research and Innovation Office (RIO) has coordinated the ongoing patent application and the process of spinning out.