Infrared Heat for Innovative Pipeline Production
Proceedings Publication Date
Ian Bartley
Ian Bartley
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Infrared heat is transmitted contact free, quickly and highly efficiently. Infrared emitters from Heraeus Noblelight have response times of the order of one to three seconds. This makes heat controllable and helps to eliminate the overheating of materials. Heraeus specialises in the production and application of high quality energy sources covering the electro-magnetic spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared.

Over recent years infrared technology from Heraeus has found its way into a number of key manufacturing and jointing processes within the oil and gas pipeline market. These include the reactivation and curing of adhesive on polypropylene and Martensite steel, pre-heating of PP insulation for field jointing and the reheating PP and PU layers for the application of insulating and anti-corrosion coatings.

Some of the success stories are worth a closer look.
Traditionally, pipeline is manufactured in lengths of 40 ft (12m). Completed pipelengths are sent to pipe coating yards and then transported to site where they are butt-welded together. The new pipeline construction technology, X200, from Pipestream Inc, a portfolio company of Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1, relies on using a thin-walled pipe with strips of martensitic steel. The assembly is then coated with a suitable coating material, such as polyolefin tape. The custom-built shortwave infrared system is controlled to ±3ºC. Pipe manufacture now is a process producing continuous pipe lengths in excess of 450m. The individual manufacturing stages are fitted within standard ISO containers, so that pipe manufacture can be carried out at point of use, allowing faster installation, shorter project lead times and higher pressure ratings.

The Barrier Group based at Wallsend in the UK has established a well-earned global reputation for providing corrosion protection coatings for steelwork and pipelines in the oil and gas sector. It has recently diversified into areas such as passive fire protection, metal spraying, powder coatings and subsea insulation. One result of this has been the development of the patented Bubbletherm system, where a conventional steel pipe is enclosed with epoxy syntactic insulation and the whole assembly is further insulated and protected with a wrapping of a proprietary polypropylene material. A high power infrared system from Heraeus Noblelight is used to cure the adhesive on the polypropylene, which ensures that the thermal insulation is efficiently applied to the innovative insulation shell around the conventional steel pipe. The resultant product gives reduced lay tension, together with significant improvements in pipe-laying productivity.

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