Bladder expandable robotic system and UV materials for rapid internal pipeline repair

This paper describes a novel composite placement process to fabricate stand-alone structural pipe within existing legacy pipelines—with no disruption in gas service. The process utilizes low-cost, UV-curable, glass fiber reinforced plastics (GFRP) for discrete preforms made from continuous fiber fabrics. These sections are designed to meet 50-year service life by addressing the unique loading conditions of the pipe repair allowing for the design customization of the preforms to accommodate the state of pipe corrosion, access points or other local features that may vary along the length of the pipe. The approach offers maximum design flexibility and customization while minimizing installation time and cost. The preforms are fabricated above ground using rapid automated manufacturing methods for quality control. The preforms are transported by a tethering system to the robot. The robot is comprised of a self-propelled dual inflation expandable bladder system that places, consolidates, and cures standard or custom composite sections along the entire pipe length in a continuous co-cure process. This system is designed to adapt to pipe features that include lateral tees, service connections, joints, gaps, and irregular cross sections. In addition, variable thickness composite sections can be placed along the pipe where exposed to high external loads under railroads, highways, airports or where soil erosion and movement occurs. This paper presents the robot design, assessment of UV curable resins, embedded sensing methods, and fabrication of pipe sections with this system.
This article was original published in SAMPE Conference Proceedings. Seattle, WA, April 17-20, 2023. Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering – North America. The version of record is available at: © Copyright 2023. Used by the Society of the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering with permission.
pipeline repair, composite liner, robotic placement, UV cure
Abu-Obaid, A., A. Vanarelli, C. Kloxin, D. Sung, D. Heider, E. Thostenson, J. Gillespie Jr., et al. “Bladder Expandable Robotic System and UV Materials for Rapid Internal Pipeline Repair.” In SAMPE Conference Proceedings 2023. Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering – North America, 2023.