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Numerical modelling of non-metallics

Webinars 29 November 2022

TWI Webinar: Numerical modelling of non-metallics: De-risking Electrostatic Discharge in Non-Metallic Pipes  

Numerical modelling can be used to gain a deeper understanding of the behaviour of non-metallics and allow for the integration of non-metallics in applications where they are not traditionally used. This webinar will focus on de-risking electrostatic discharge in non-metallic pipes.

Non-metallic solutions are increasingly being deployed across the oil and gas, construction, and renewable industries. For the oil and gas sector, the transport of natural gas and particulates through non-metallic pipes can lead to the accumulation of static charge on the inner surface of the pipe. Due to the non-conductive nature of the polymeric materials, this charge is not dissipated, leading to the risk of explosion, environmental damage, and injury should it discharge. Moreover, if the charge results in an electric field exceeding the dielectric strength of the material, then the discharge can melt a hole through the pipe. This risk must be quantified and mitigated to ensure safe operation and enable wider use of non-metallic pipes in gas service.

Current approaches to evaluating the risk of electrostatic discharge rely only on the flow regime (API/RP 2003 and NFPA 77) using approximations (Baker and Mandhane charts). If a "mist" regime is present, then the risk of electrostatic discharge is declared high. This approach does not quantify the risk and can be overly conservative. Moreover, mitigation methods to avoid a mist regime are difficult to practically implement.

For these reasons, the Non-metallic Innovation Centre and TWI worked together to develop a multi-physics modelling-based procedure that quantifies the risk of electrostatic discharge in non-metallic pipes. The approach was validated in laboratory conditions and used to assess real scenarios from the field. It is now being used by the oil and gas industry to provide risk assessments and optimise designs for safety.

Meet the team

Rachel Lunn - Senior Project Leader, Numerical Modelling and Optimisation

Rachel Lunn

Senior Project Leader, Numerical Modelling and Optimisation

Rachel is a graduate from the University of Cambridge with a Masters in Natural Sciences specialising in Material Science. Since graduating, Rachel has worked as a research scientist at Johnson Matthey, working on catalyst development, and then at Cummins, modelling diesel engine components.

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