The Non-metallic Innovation Centre (NIC), a partnership between TWI, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Saudi Aramco Technologies Company (SATC) that is based at TWI’s headquarters building in Cambridge UK, has opened a dedicated laboratory that has the capacity to undertake specialist permeation and ageing tests.
The new NIC facility extends to an area of some 1,900 m2 and features state-of-the-art polymer ageing equipment with the ability to reach pressures of 2,600psi and temperatures of 374F in the first installation. It has the capacity to undertake specialist permeation and ageing tests using single components or a mixtures of sour, hydrocarbon fluids, natural gas, water, hydrogen gas and supercritical CO2. Bespoke continuous-flow permeation cells and large volume autoclaves are also available, allowing testing using fluids based on ISO23936 1/2 or Norsok M710 and in accordance with API15S and API17J.
Companies in the oil & gas industry are increasingly turning to non-metallic flowlines and wellbore products to reduce the costs arising from the corrosion of steel grades in sour environments. Intrinsic to wider adoption of non-metallic materials is the temperature and pressure envelope for composite and multi-layered pipes, which requires an assessment of barrier properties and chemo-mechanical stability prior to deployment in industry.
Operators that use pipes constituted from fibre reinforced polymer, reinforced thermos-plastic and other composite non-metallic materials are required to meet certain standards that act as a general guide for the assessment of ageing in non-metallic materials. The challenge of complying with these is that as fluid mixtures within composites become more complex, they require an initial screening before they can be safely used, thereby entailing a scientific understanding of the key parameters to change in a testing experiment and an assessment of the properties that could provide an early warning sign of chemo-mechanical failure. This fundamental approach allows the boundary conditions for using the material to be expanded, without the need to carry out tests for each specific condition.
The NIC laboratory is co-located within TWI’s sour gases engineering hall , which itself is around 10,000m2. TWI has established a global reputation for barrier property testing and ageing of non metallic materials, and has carried out material performance assessment for Industrial Member companies since 2012. TWI scientists and engineers, Dr Bernadette Craster, Dr Chris Worrall, Dr Ewen Kellar and Dr Farshad Salamat-Zadeh have many years’ expertise and experience in the area of permeation and material assessment between them, and can provide technical support to NIC client projects.
Mihalis Kazilas, NIC Programme Director at TWI said “The NIC is committed to expanding the operating envelop of non-metallic pipes. Our new laboratory will offer specialist permeation and ageing tests to the NIC sponsors, TWI Industrial Members, and partners and clients in the oil and gas industry.”