Benefits of an Industry - University partnership - Business Works
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Benefits of an Industry - University partnership

Dr Sarinova Simandjuntak, School of Engineering, University of Portsmouth University researchers are sharing their knowledge with a local manufacturing company to develop an industry standard for testing pipes in the oil industry.

The work is focusing on developing a design tool that uses computer modelling to detect when offshore deep water pipes will fail and break and in which part of the pipe the failure will occur.

Magma Global, based in Portsmouth, is a manufacturing company that designs and makes pipes for the oil and gas industry and has developed a knowledge-transfer partnership with the University of Portsmouth. The new design tool developed through the partnership should give Magma an edge in a highly-competitive market.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for the University to be involved in," said Dr Sarinova Simandjuntak, lead researcher involved in the partnership in the School of Engineering. "The tool will provide confidence in future manufacturing test results and will be the basis of future standards for the industry."

Magma’s composite pipes, which are made by layering materials to improve the properties of the pipe, are used throughout the oil industry, including for deep water drilling. Deep water pipes used at 1000m below sea level and beyond, have to withstand very low temperatures, strong water currents and high pressure. The composite pipes provide better protection from corrosion and are lighter and more flexible than pipes made of conventional metals such as steel, meaning they are easier to transport. This particular type of composite, using both natural carbon fibre and man-made polymer materials, is a recent development in the engineering industry.

Steel pipes have been used in the oil and gas industry for more than 50 years and are tested according to established standards. According to Sarinova, these standards are important as they give the customers confidence in the quality and performance of the pipes. However, there are currently no official standards for testing the composite pipes and manufacturers rely solely on mechanical testing.

Through the partnership with the University, Magma hopes to establish a way of verifying the results of mechanical testing that can be used throughout the industry. This standard will be important in increasing the customer’s confidence in composite pipes, leading to greater use of these pipes in the oil and gas industry. The company also hopes to gain a better scientific understanding of how the components of the pipes behave individually and in the particular way they are layered, and at what point they fail.

The mechanical testing currently used for Magma’s pipes involves pulling and compression tests. This can only test the strength of the whole pipe, not the individual materials or how they are arranged in layers. Testing the whole pipe can often result in an average result, meaning that you cannot identify which areas of the pipe will experience higher stress or higher deformation.

With the University’s help and expertise, the company is developing a tool that can model the pipe and its wall structure. Using a form of computer modelling and simulation known as Finite Element modelling, the researchers can simulate complex loading conditions that occur deep in the ocean where the manufactured pipes will be used.

Researchers can then gain a better understanding of how aspects such as stress and deformation are distributed throughout the pipes and how they affect the different individual components of the pipe. This can help identify the specific areas of the pipe where failure could take place. The computer modelling can also study the effect of how the materials are arranged in the pipe, such as horizontally, vertically or diagonally, on how the pipe responds to external forces such as compressive loading, bending and buckling.

The University benefits from the partnership by gaining an understanding of industrial practices and how to apply science and engineering knowledge in a practical setting. Sarinova said, "Partnerships like this are important for the University as they increase our links with industry and help us to engage with local businesses and share our knowledge. Having a short knowledge-transfer partnership is even better as it means a quicker output and less risk for the company in terms of investment."

The tool takes into consideration various loading conditions, so the model can also be used in many other applications, as well as the oil and gas industry. Some examples include: marine applications; pressure vessels (such as submarine / submersible vehicle design); and in biomechanical applications such as hip joints. These use polymer composite coating materials that will be subjected to loading such as bending, compression and sometimes torsion - similar to the pipes.

For more information on the University, please visit the: University of Portsmouth, School of Engineering

For more information on Magma Global, please visit:

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