Technology to Help Make Pipelines Safer in the Future

With half of the nation’s 2.5 million miles of pipeline carrying oil, gas and hazardous liquids more than 50 years old, how can future leaks be prevented?
Technology to Help Make Pipelines Safer in the Future - Articles


Pipeline and infrastructure requires constant vigilance, intelligent planning and new technologies to help the industry shift from a reactive to proactive plan. Five developments to help make projects safer are on the horizon.


The use of intelligent machines that detect stress points and splits and repairs them on the spot are being tested in larger diameter pipes in the UK. The robots inject sealants to stop leaks, most often found at joints, thus saving in time and cost in having to dig to fix the leak.

High-tech materials

Testing on super lightweight polymer aerogels in pipeline is being currently going on. The aerogels are applied in thin layers to help improve compression resistance of steel pipe, increase the insulating effect, and reduce pipe corrosion caused by friction. Testing on graphene-infused polymers appear to show improved strength, toughness, increased permeation resistance and enhanced fatigue performance over steel pipe.

New Pipeline Construction

Unconventional drilling has led to domestic production increases in natural gas, oil and liquefied natural gas. These increases have industry shifting to exporting more products, thus requiring increased investment in new and improved oil and natural gas infrastructure. It is fair to assume that with the increased investments, there will be the retirement of old, decaying pipelines.

Pipeline Coatings

Epoxies applied to both the outside and inside of pipes have been helpful in thwarting the problem of corrosion. These coatings have been instrumental in reinforcing existing networks to head of potential serious spills.

Mobile concrete-weight coating plants

Concrete coating on pipelines are extremely durable and help achieve a level of buoyancy and high put-through rates in shallow-water pipelines. This type of pipe is extremely costly to ship. One company is constructing modular components that can be trucked close to a pipeline installation site to help bring the construction of the pipes closer to the project.