This paper presents the development and testing of an Electro-Magnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) sensor prototype to detect and quantify longitudinal cracks in small diameter and difficult to inspect or unpiggable gas pipelines. The development of the system was a collaborative and jointly-funded work between Quest Integrated, Gas Technology Institute, Operations Technology Development, and US DOT, Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Admin (PHMSA).
The initial focus for the project was to inspect 8-inch (200 mm) diameter pipes with robotic or tethered towing, with the eventual goal of a free-swimming tool. A bench scale lab prototype has been successfully completed and tested in Phase 1 of the project in 2016. The prototype demonstrated the basic approach of a EMAT tool for crack detection and sizing that could be packaged into a single module, had reasonable flaw depth sensitivity, was bidirectional, and could negotiate a 1.5 D bend.
Phase 2 focused on identifying and solving additional implementation issues, developing a more hardened tool for field pull testing, improving flaw sizing, and the necessary internal electronics and processing algorithms. The prototype recently developed in Phase 2 was tested in an extended length of 8-inch diameter steel pipe with pre-set and controlled longitudinal cracks. The results demonstrated the applicability of the integrated prototype in locating and sizing multiple flaws in the axial direction.
This paper discusses the EMAT sensor development and results of the laboratory testing program.