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There are 2.5 million miles of pipeline stretching across the US, transporting vital resources such as oil and gas, and even hazardous liquids. But like the rest of America’s infrastructure, this system is aging, with half of the existing pipeline now more than half a century old. That means it’s more important than ever to use the latest technology available to keep the existing system running safely and efficiently.

Safe pipelines begin with stringent construction regulations. Every pipeline installed today is tested by filling it with water and pressurizing it well above its operating pressure. Today’s pipelines also use advanced materials and anti-corrosion coatings to help prevent leaks. In addition, new super lightweight polymer aerogels are being used to improve the compression resistance of steel pipe and reduce pipe corrosion caused by friction. Graphene-infused polymers show promise as well, improving strength, toughness, permeation resistance, and fatigue performance.

Most pipelines are continuously managed and monitored using information supplied by sophisticated instruments positioned along the length of the pipeline. Control room operators look for changes in line pressure and flow rate which might indicate a rupture. They can then quickly turn off pumps and close shutoff valves to avoid potential spills. Pipelines are also monitored by foot and aerial patrols, and by members of the local community.

Pipelines are regularly inspected to identify potential issues and address them before they become major problems. The primary method is in-line inspection, in which high-tech diagnostic devices called “smart pigs” use magnetic resonance or ultrasonic waves to identify dents, corrosion, or cracking. Specialized software is then employed to analyze the results, identify potential issues, and schedule maintenance. With the use of smart pigs, corrosion-related pipeline incidents have been reduced by 76% since 1999. And new intelligent machines are currently being tested that take this one step further by detecting leaks and then injecting sealants to repair them on the spot. This eliminates the cost and downtime of excavating in order to perform repairs.

AZZ can help keep your pipeline operations running smoothly. They offer pump and compressor station enclosure systemshot-dip galvanizing services, hazardous location lighting systems and mechanical integrity services designed to keep your pipeline safe and efficient.

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