Options In NDT Pipeline Inspections
There are thousands of miles of pipeline crisscrossing the United States. These pipes carry water, crude oil, natural gas, and more. Most are buried underground, but that doesn’t mean they are protected from harm. Even buried pipes are vulnerable to corrosion, cracking, weakening, or flaws in construction. A leak or a crack, a burst or a collapse could have dramatic consequences not only for the company that owns the line but for the consumers who rely on whatever material was being carried in the pipe as well as nearby property owners.
This is where pipeline inspections become critical. Without regular inspections, we have no way of knowing if a pipe is damaged or weakening and needs to be repaired or replaced. Some of the most effective methods of inspecting pipelines are also non-invasive, meaning they don’t require any changes to the actual structure of the pipeline. These are referred to as Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Methods.
NDT Service For Pipeline Inspection
There are several NDT technologies that can be applied to pipeline inspections, some of the most common are: visual, X-ray, magnetic particle, ultrasonic and guided wave, CUI, and radiography. Depending on the application or component that requires inspection, as well as its physical location, the NDT technique used will vary. Some techniques are better at detecting surface flaws, others at detecting subsurface flaws. Some work better on buried pipes, others must be used aboveground. Here’s a brief description of some of the most commonly used non-destructive testing techniques:
- Visual Inspections are just that. A technician visually inspects the outside of the container for signs of deterioration, discharges, or accumulations of oil inside diked areas. Visual inspections should be a routine walk-around and include the container’s supports and foundations.
- X-Rays can be used to see inside components, especially those made of concrete or metal. X-rays provide a visual inspection where it’s not possible to physically see the component or inside the pipeline. This inspection can verify hidden connections, detect cracks, leaks, or flaws and verify weld integrity.
- Magnetic Particle. This non-destructive testing technique is used to detect cracks, imperfections, areas of change, or weakness in metallic materials. Even the smallest of changes can be detected thanks to extremely sensitive measurement capabilities.
- Ultrasonic and Guided Wave Testing rely on high-frequency sound waves to inspect materials and make measurements. This type of testing is used to identify flaws and verify dimensional measurements at both the surface and subsurface levels.
- Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) inspections cover a wide range of specific techniques all of which make it possible to inspect pipelines that have been insulated against temperature extremes for corrosion. Techniques include Radiography, Real-Time X-rays, and Ultrasonic Spot Readings.
- Radiography. Radiography relies on X-rays or Isotope sources (radioactive materials) to create images that can then be examined to detect areas of weakness or change in pipe walls, welds, or joints.
NDT Pipeline Inspection At Amerapex
Amerapex is a Houston, Texas based provider of NDT pipeline inspection services for the energy industry. Our proprietary inspection methods allow us to not only detect areas of corrosion but also assess the cause and recommend solutions. To learn more our company and our services contact us at 1-713-263-0900.