A group of physicists and engineers in Berkeley, California,
have developed a new safety system to monitor and prevent
pipeline ruptures by using magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI)
medical technology to remotely monitor the structural integrity
of metal pipelines.
The new technology would help prevent
failures such as the PG&E pipeline incident in San Bruno,
California, as well as other leaks, explosions and disruptions,
according to the scientists at 4D Imaging, the Berkeley company
that invented and patented the MRI-based pipeline-monitoring
The system transmits the status of a pipeline to the
Internet and gives pipeline operators a real-time picture of
the health of the pipeline, checking for fractures at welds or
support systems and corrosion failure.
After installation of the MRI monitoring system, the status
of the pipeline can be visualized via the Internet. The
monitoring is constant, and any change in the mechanical health
of the pipeline is measured and transmitted immediately to
operating officers and pipeline managers.
The MRI system can be installed on any pipeline. It works by
wrapping the pipe in wire coils, which accomplishes two things:
First, one set of coils is electrified, which magnetizes the
steel pipe (over 90% of the worlds pipelines are steel).
Next, a second set of coils detects the magnetic field being
given off by the now magnetized pipe. Conveniently, when steel
corrodes and degrades, it becomes less magnetic, so variations
in the pipes magnetism represent areas that may have
corroded or become compromised.
If the level of corrosion exceeds 0.008 of the pipe, the
system will issue a warning that the area of pipe has become
compromised. The pipes temperature is also measured, both
to account for changes in magnetism unrelated to corrosion and
to keep track of heat or cold stresses.
The coils electrify and record their data one at a time in
sequence along the length of the pipeline. It takes the system
about three seconds to thoroughly test a segment of pipe.
US refiner Sunoco is indefinitely idling the main
processing units at its refinery in Marcus Hook,
Pennsylvania, citing deteriorating refining market conditions. The
company said it now expects to begin idling the Marcus Hook
facility immediately while it continues to seek a buyer and
also pursues options with third parties for alternate uses of
the facility. Sunoco said it also intends to increase the
capacity utilization rate of its Philadelphia refinery and will continue to
operate the refinery as long as market conditions warrant.
However, if a suitable sales transaction cannot be implemented,
the company intends to permanently idle the main processing
units at the Philadelphia refinery no later than July
Chevron Phillips Chemical has successfully completed
the acquisition of a polyalphaolefin (PAO) plant in
Beringen, Belgium, from Neste Oil. A company spokesperson said
the deal will help the company better service the growing
demand for PAOs that are used in high performance lubricants
and other applications. The agreement was first announced in
Honeywells UOP plans to expand its portfolio
of natural gas treatment technologies
through an exclusive marketing alliance with the
Netherlands-based Twister B.V. UOP will now offer the Twister
supersonic gas separation technology, which is used to remove
water and heavy hydrocarbons present in natural gas when it
comes out of the ground. The technology expands UOPs
current suite of natural gas processing technologies and
equipment that remove impurities such as water, carbon dioxide, sulfur compounds and
mercury from natural gas streams, and that separate and recover
natural gas liquids. UOP has also acquired a minority position
in Twister B.V., the company said.
OriginOil has announced the funding of a new
research agreement with the US
Department of Energys Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Under the agreement, OriginOil and INL will collaborate with a
goal toward establishing industry standards for algal biomass,
a critical step toward making algal biofuels a competitive alternative
to petroleum. Under the terms of the new Cooperative Research
and Development Agreement (CRADA), OriginOil will provide INL
with its extraction technology, and contribute its knowledge of
how to stimulate oil production and pre-treat for consistent
extraction of the algae and its co-products.
Plains All American Pipeline is converting an
existing Oklahoma liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
pipeline into crude oil service. The pipeline, which extends
from Medford, Oklahoma, to PAAs crude oil terminal
facility in Cushing, Oklahoma, will provide an initial crude
oil throughput capacity of 12,000 bpd by January 2012 and will
be expanded to 25,000 bpd by July 2012.
The oil and gas division of GE will supply advanced
combustion technology to reduce gas turbine emissions at the Qatargas 1 utility
complex in Qatar. The technology is being installed in
order to meet new regulations from the Qatari Ministry of Environment. GE will provide a
combustion system designed to achieve low emissions levels of 25 parts per
million (ppm) for nitrogen oxide. The system will be used to
upgrade six gas turbines that are providing the power for three
onshore LNG trains at the Qatargas 1 site.
Investment in high-voltage transmission (greater
than 345 kilovolts) in the US is expected to top $41
billion over the next 10 years with more than 40% of it being
made in just the first three years, according to a new IHS
study. Growing power demand, increasingly rigorous reliability standards and the
ongoing drive to integrate larger amounts of renewables into
the power mix are among the major factors driving transmission
investment, the study finds. HP