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New technology in the pipeline to make big savings

posted 4 May 2011, 06:07 by RiDO Rotherham
A Rotherham based manufacturing company has the potential to save thousands of pounds from its production costs thanks to university researchers who are applying laser-driven technology to off-shore oil pipelines. 

A team of engineering experts from Sheffield Hallam University’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) are working with Evenort Ltd by using laser deposition technology to produce Alloy 625, a high-strength material used in the flanges of oil pipelines to stop them corroding. The technology can reduce material costs by up to 85 per cent and also cuts down on the amount of Nickel used - resulting in a more environmentally-friendly production process.

Evenort Ltd carries out work in the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, electronics, aerospace, automotive and biomedical sectors. Craig McKay, general manager for Evenort, explains the benefits of the new process: "By applying a laser-deposited section of Alloy 625 to the wetted surfaces of the product, the amount of the costly alloy in the component is much reduced. 

"Flanges produced in this way are therefore cheaper and quicker to market. The savings get bigger as the nominal size of the pipeline increases so this would be particularly suitable for large diameter sour service applications such as oil pipelines."

MERI’s Professor Alan Smith and Dr David Clegg, together with knowledge transfer associate Chunjun Li, have been working on the project. Professor Smith said: "Evenort produce flanges and other pipeline products for the oil and gas industry which have to be machined to very tight tolerances from highly alloyed corrosion resistant materials. 

"We are developing an Alloy 625 process which will give the necessary corrosion resistance but at greatly reduced manufacturing cost. By using laser deposition technology, we can clad the flanges with a suitably thick corrosion resistant layer but given the complex shape of these products this is not a straight forward process. 

“The savings in terms of materials cost has been estimated to be between 50 and 85 per cent depending on the complexity of the product. This also has an environmental benefit because far fewer precious metals are required in the manufacturing process."

MERI brings together a highly multi-disciplinary team of researchers who aim to achieve the highest standards in materials and engineering research. Its research and consultancy activities are supported by a large advanced equipment base, ranging from the latest electron microscopes to high performance computing hardware.