PITA Fiscal Year 2007 Projects

Innovative Infrastructure System Assessment Technology

Continuous Monitoring of Distributed Pipeline Systems
The recent pipeline ruptures, such as the oil spill in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on March 15, 2006 and the more recent announcement by BP that it had to close a portion of the distribution network in Alaska because of extensive corrosion of the pipe walls, illustrate the magnitude of the problems associated with an aging and fast decaying pipeline system infrastructure. They also make clear the necessity for continuous, automatic monitoring systems that can provide early detection and early warning of defects, such as corrosion and leaks, before they reach the magnitude of a major disaster. In collaboration with TesTex, Inc., this project proposes to develop a “reference-free” nondestructive testing (NDT) technique that can continuously and autonomously inspect the integrity and safety of distributed pipeline systems. The uniqueness of this reference-free approach is that it can minimize false alarms of defects due to varying operational and environmental conditions expected in field applications by relaxing the dependency on previously obtained baseline data. (Damage diagnosis is conventionally conducted by comparing “current” data with “past” baseline data. However, this conventional approach is sensitive to not only defects but also other variations in temperature, external/internal loading and soil condition, making it vulnerable to false alarms.) To achieve this goal, this project will leverage the intellectual property resulting from the PI’s past PITA project entitled “Active Sensing Development for Infrastructure Online Monitoring” and one of the Co-PIs’ DARPA ARO Phase II project. The central theme of this proposal is in-line with one of PITA’s strategic areas, Infrastructure Assessment and Renewal Technology (IART), and the mission of the newly established Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research (CenSCIR). This is one of the “Sensor Andrew” Projects, that are designed to address strategic research topics of a new CenSCIR iniative. TesTex is a Pennsylvania based company that designs and manufactures NDT systems for infrastructure inspection of pipelines, storage tanks, and other industrial components. TesTex has agreed to provide actual pipeline components taken out of service for this collaboration, and engineers from TesTex will serve as technical advisory for this project. We are also pursuing follow-on funding opportunities with Concurrent Technology Corporation (CTC), British Petroleum (BP), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).