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7 things you should know about non-metallic flexible pipe


7 things you should know about non-metallic flexible pipe

April 8, 2021

For more than a century, the technology used for transporting pressurized fluids – liquid or gas – has continually evolved from wood, to clay, to lead, then cast iron andcurrently, steel pipelines. Meet the latest industry disruptor: composite flexible pipe. This next generation of non-metallic pipe is a proven alternative for a fast-growing range of applications.

Lightweight and flexible, reinforced thermoplastic pipe can optimize the core structure of flowline and pipeline networks and economically support the transport of CO2for storage, the movement of hydrogen, or the conversion of existing infrastructure to carry these gases,which will be critical in the energy transition and decarbonization of industry.

At Baker Hughes, we recently announced扩展我们的陆上灵活管道制造能力so here we explore the seven superpowers of these non-metallic onshore pipelines:

1. Flexible


This pipe is a very easy product to get into a ditch: you can lift it, you can bend it. If you are trying to do that with steel pipe, you need three or four side booms and a big bulldozer for starters. Thismeans a lotof safety exposure, because steel has that rigidity and weight, so when you are working with anything made from steel, it’s an extra overhead to carry.

Flexibility (or compliance) is equally important when the pipe is in service. Not all land where operators need to lay pipelines is neat and compact and solid. You may need to cross geo-hazards of all sorts, such as landslides, mud and swamps. This presents considerable risk for steel pipe and to overcome it, operators have traditionally relied on a huge amount of extra design effort up front and added structural capacity such as expansion loops (basically large U-bends in the pipe) or weak links with quick disconnect valves. Pipeline operators are always working to avoid spills of oil or gas, or even brines, so there is a heavy burden of responsibility, and operators must have that extra flexibility engineered into their steel pipeline system. Composite pipes just don’t have the same level ofrisk because they are flexible and can easily incorporate bends and loops which would facilitate any ground movement – just using their natural compliance.

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Non-metallic flexible pipeline reel ready for shipment.



一世n the working environments for pipelines, there are high shock loads, heating and cooling cycles and pressure cycles, a material with high ductility will likely be more reliable than something that is rigid.


3. Connected


传统上,应变仪,电子传感器和光纤传感器用于特定应用的钢管,通常是条件监测。但这意味着胶合在结构外部的钢上的东西,甚至可能在绝缘涂层之外。然后,操作员在粘合和光纤传感器或电动仪上完全依赖于保持其生命并导出发生的事情insidethe pipe from theoutside

This superpower for flexible composite pipes is that the optical fibers can be embeddedin结构本身,因为它们与所用的加强材料兼容O.ptical-fiber monitoring is an incredibly versatile tool for condition monitoring and integrity assessment. A standard telecom-grade fiber is embedded within the structure with the other fibers and becomes an integral part of the pipe.

与嵌入式视神经管跑20英里al fiber, we can measure all sorts of things – such as distributed temperature – along that complete distance. For example, if there is a leak from the inside out, or from the outside in, the temperature difference will show up on the monitoring software. We can then investigate that specific location, without the need to dig up miles of pipe. capability that is most interesting is the use of optical fibers for vibration monitoring. With an I/O box (input/output) at one end and a reflector at the other, we can interrogate the line signal backwards and forwards. When monitoring the fiber acoustically, vibrations will be detected if for example somebody’s digging in the vicinity. This means in advance of somebody digging a hole near and potentially ‘interacting’ with the pipe, the operator will get a warning. The value of that alarm capability for operators is obvious.

What is less obvious is that operators have a regulatory duty to positively confirm the condition of the pipeline, including that it is holding pressure, shows no signs of being degraded and is still fit for purpose. These on-board monitoring systems allow the operator to do these checks without having to inspect the line either internally, with an intelligent pig, or externally by walking along it. A step forward in the digitalization of operations.

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Manufacturing process of non-metallic pipe.

4. Safe

运营商和服务公司都以ed to safety as a non-negotiable and work together to minimize both the probability of something happening and to mitigate any adverse consequence if it does. In the energy sector, moving heavy items of machinery or equipment is one of the most dangerous activities, and where people have the greatest risk of getting hurt.

Composite flexible pipe brings a very simple superpower here – it is lighter than steel pipes and it fits on a reel.

This fundamental characteristic reduces the probability and the consequence of injury. Instead of many heavy steel pipes loaded onto as many as 20-30 trucks arriving at a site, we have one reel of very lightweight pipe on one truck. So statistically, this immediately reduces the exposure to road accidents, as well as reducing the lifting and dropping hazards associated with moving steel pipe joints onto and off a truck.

The installation of a steel pipeline involves welding, bending, side booms, and a lot of heavy pieces of equipment. A composite flexible pipe installation will require much less. A backhoe will open the ditch and either the backhoe or a few people can manually lift the pipe into the trench, and 100s of meters of flexible can be laid without interruption for connectors or welding. The reduced number of joints also lowers the risk of a leak during hydrotesting operations.


一世n addition, the operational risk of wall thickness loss due to corrosion, one key factorof steel-pipe failure, is non-existent in a non-metallic onshore pipeline.

5. Cleaner

The composite pipes are fully recyclable at the end of life and are as simple to replace or remove as they were to install. During installation there is at least 30% less land required for the right-of-way, when dealing with many fewer vehicle movements – this has an environmental benefit as well as improving the owner/operator’s return on investment. Of course, many fewer vehicles for transportation and installation also means lower emissions.

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Close up of the manufacturing process: layer of composite material.

As the inside of composite pipes is very smooth, this means that a smaller diameter pipe can achieve a better flow rate for fluid transportation, once again impacting efficiency, project cost and environmental footprint.

6. Budget

项目经理负责预算and their first question is, ‘How much am I spending upfront?’ With non-metallic pipes, the discussion moves from comparing equipment unit costs, which is what the industry normally focuses on, to look instead at total installed cost. When we take the cost of our pipe, the cost of installation and the cost of the operation, we can demonstrate that in most applications, this pipe is significantly – 20-30% and sometimes more – lower than the installed cost of the equivalent steel pipe.

When looking at OPEX, the operator can benefit from a hidden cost advantage: there is no need to inject chemicals into the pipes to prevent corrosion, which can be costly. Oxygen scavengers and wax build up are also not an issue, which eliminates regular intelligent pigging operation. Likewise, external corrosion – requiring a Cathodic Protection system installation and life-long maintenance – are not needed. A consideration of all those ‘traditional’ pipe maintenance itemsgreatly reducesthe operating costs of the pipeline over its life cycle.

7. Advanced

Copphite管子是一个很好的例子the benefits achieved withadvanced配置和manufacturing. We work from a menu of components which can change out quickly. We use the same machinery and, in some cases, the same kind ofbasematerials – the composite fiber tapes and polymers一世f the operating duty requires it, we can substitute a high-temperature polymer or an impermeable polymer inside the pipe and leave everything else unchanged.

As with additive manufacturing, the technology used to produce these pipes means each structure can be optimized to the needs of the application. Our manufacturing capability can make a pipe of any diameter, refine the pressure rating by applying more or fewer layers, add or subtract stiffness, add temperature capacity, and so on, to be just right for its application.

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Close up of non-metallic pipe section showing composition.


复合材料也是一个非常快速的制造过程 - 如果需要,可以在几天内生产一段柔性管。钢管接头可能需要从工厂提前几个月订购,以获得指定的等级,而我们可以在几天内建造各种产品,从同一基础原料中。

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