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Robots, pigs and pipes


Ground breaking robots in the UK eliminate the logistical and environmental impacts of gas line excavation by taking measurements from inside the pipe. To withstand the extreme conditions there, 2507 super-duplex stainless steel was chosen for the robots' chassis.

© Synthotech Limited

Understanding the immense value of Project GRAID (Gas Robotic Agile Inspection Device) requires a look back in time. Building the UK's National Transmission System began in the 1960's. By 2030, over 60% of the system will be older than its projected life span, raising the risk of both corrosion and leaks. Until now, the only way to assess the condition of pressurized pipe sections inaccessible by traditional Pipeline Inspection Gauges or Pigs was through above-ground survey and asset life modelling.

Work on the £6.3 million GRAID project started in 2015. The aim was to design an agile robotic inspection device, capable of surveying the 350 kilometres of unpiggable pipelines that connect the 200 high-pressure installations in the UK Gas Transmission Network. The pioneering robotic platform must operate in extremely demanding physical conditions, including high velocity, live gas, and pressures of up to 100 barg- equivalent to more than five times the maximum pressure experience by a typical submarine.

Designing the innovative robotic platform took over two years. The final design was influenced by the conditions it must withstand inside high-pressure gas pipework. Project GRAID would not have been possible without the super-strong metal chassis that holds all of the control systems, electronics and cameras. It was critically important that the robot could withstand whatever conditions it encountered, especially as it was towing a specially-designed 100-meter umbilical cord that contained all the necessary cables to allow it to operate and feedback real time images.

Find out why super-duplex 2507 stainless steel was the material of choice for the robots' chassis.


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