Reliable pipeline inspection device
The challenge was to design a reliable pipeline inspection device that wouldn’t get stuck.
Inspection of the structural integrity of oil pipelines is a key part of preventative maintenance and avoiding spillages. The challenge was to design a reliable pipeline inspection device that would deliver the necessary data without routinely getting stuck.
Current inspection devices (called ‘pigs’) provide good quality data but easily become stuck inside the pipeline causing a blockage. Recovering the pig is a time-consuming and costly activity as it takes the pipeline out of operation unexpectedly.
Making the pig the optimum size and utilising magnetic fields and sensors.
BlueThink approached this challenge by breaking the problem down into two parts. Part one was making the pig the optimum size and utilising magnetic fields and sensors to better detect its position. Finite element analysis was used to simulate and test the effect of the magnetic fields inside the pipes before construction.
Part two was looking at the pig’s construction and how this contributed to it getting stuck. By making the pig from a degradable material, the need for recovery in the future was completely removed. Different materials were researched to find an option that would dissolve at the right speed but still be structurally sound.
Delivered a high functioning prototype in a very short timeframe.
By combining technology transfer with a creative approach, BlueThink engineers delivered a high functioning prototype in a very short timeframe. BlueThink designed a system using a superconducting electromagnet instead of a permanent magnet, choosing flexible components over rigid metallic structures.
The high-resolution sensing system was transferred and re-engineered through a technology scouting project. Our skilled engineers designed, prototyped, lab and field tested all sub-systems and the integrated system, achieving optimal detection properties (patent US2014312890). The result – a robust and reliable pipeline inspection device that saves both time and cost.