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QuakeWrap wins federal research grant to explore gas and oil pipeline repair

News International-French

11 Sep 2020

Tucson-based QuakeWrap is the recipient of a federal research grant from the U.S. DOT to explore a greener, less intrusive repair method using fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) for larger gas and oil pipelines.

QuakeWrap wins federal research grant to explore gas and oil pipeline repair

An international innovator in infrastructure renewal is one of the recipients of a highly competitive national small business award supporting research and development of innovative solutions that solve major transportation challenges. 

The “Internal Repair of Steel Transmission Pipelines” proposal from Tucson-based QuakeWrap was awarded $150k by the U.S. Department of Transportation SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program for fiscal 2020. The award is the first of two phases scheduled to be awarded. 

A big part of the attraction of QuakeWrap’s proposal is the trenchless aspect, says Firat Sever, principal investigator of the proposed repair method and Pipeline Division Manager for QuakeWrap.

Most oil and gas transmission pipes are repaired externally by excavating around a damaged or leak site, Sever says, including preparation of the pipe surface, and mechanically installing a repair product such as a clamp or wrap on the outside of the pipe.

The available repair methods are disruptive, require access by destructive means and are costly in terms of time and resources. Sever said:

“QuakeWrap’s proposed greener, less intrusive solution has the potential to be installed without the need for any excavation or accessing the pipe by damaging means,”  

The proposed repair method, called SuperLaminate by QuakeWrap, utilizes existing launch stations or access sites used for cleaning and inspection of oil and gas pipes. Sever says:

“Our main objective in Phase I is achieving proof of concept with respect to using the technique for steel transmission pipes.”

To achieve this objective, QuakeWrap’s internal research laboratory will be testing the system for high pressure and chemical resistance, in addition to developing a design methodology for this energy-saving repair application. 

According to the U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), there are approximately 319.392 miles of existing gas pipelines for gathering and transmission of gas. The goal of the QuakeWrap research is to find a commercially viable solution that rehabilitates distressed pipes proactively, before they fail. The solution needs to be feasible, economic, and deployable with minimal impact to operations, Sever said. 

The U.S. DOT is one of 11 federal agencies that participates in the SBIR program supporting national research and development by small businesses. In its 26-year history, QuakeWrap has been awarded SBIR support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and this year from U.S. DOT. The U.S. DOT SBIR Program for fiscal 2020 offered awards to 20 domestic small businesses, including two Arizona companies.