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PredictCUI - Prediction of moisture migration for mitigating corrosion under insulation

Insulated pipes are found in places where hot gas or liquid needs to be moved from one place to another. This can be the hot water in your house, or large pipes in industrial plants. The insulation, which sits like a woolly fleece around the pipe wall, helps to reduce heat loss, costs and emissions. But major problems can happen if corrosion starts to spread under the insulation. Our research aims to help overcome this challenge.

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When you and I wear insulating clothing, we know it is important to keep this layer dry. The same goes for insulated pipes installed outdoors, which are covered in a thin metal "raincoat" called cladding. However, there is a big difference: if your raincoat has a hole you might get a wet shoulder, but if the cladding on an insulated pipe has a hole, it can cause a major problem known as corrosion under insulation(CUI). In the worst case, CUI damage can lead to major accidents if the corrosion damages a pipe carrying flammable or explosive fluids.

Avoiding CUI is such an important issue in petroleum and chemical industries that the total maintenance cost due to CUI in Norway is more than 1 billion NOK per year. Part of the reason for this big cost is that operators cannot predict where CUI has happened, so hundreds of kilometres of insulated piping must be manually inspected on a regular schedule.

The PredictCUI project will enable development of a humidity monitoring system, by closing knowledge gaps in the understanding of humidity transport in pipe insulation. That's because by measuring humidity levels inside the insulation, it is possible to locate where water has entered the system. Combining the new fundamental knowledge on humidity transport that will be gained from theory and laboratory work, with the experience and computer models developed in PredictCUI, will help bring sensor-based CUI monitoring solutions closer to reality, helping to reduce costs and risks in affected industries.

PredictCUI is a multidisciplinary research collaboration between SINTEF, NTNU and TU Eindhoven, and is supported by partners Equinor, Gassco as well as the Research Council of Norway.

This is a Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project partly financed by the Research Council of Norway.

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Project duration

01/08/2020 - 18/08/2024

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