The Arctic onshore environment contains regions of discontinuous permafrost, where pipes may be subject to displacement-controlled bending in addition to high hoop stresses due to the pressurized fluids being transported. Considering the displacement-controlled nature of the deformations, strain-based design methodologies have been developed for permafrost pipelines when they are subject to bending and tension, which limit the longitudinal compressive and tensile strains. The widely accepted methodology in the industry to obtain the compressive strain capacity of line pipes subject to bending is to conduct Finite Element Analysis, incorporating material and geometrical nonlinearity calibrated against benchmark full-scale tests (bend tests) [1,2]. During these tests, compressive strains can be measured by various methods. The seemingly obvious choice is to apply strain gauges along the compression face of the specimen with respect to bending (intrados). This method will provide reasonable results until the compressive strain pattern begins to vary due to the initiation of buckle formation, which typically occurs shortly after yield. In order to measure average compressive strain beyond yield and up to buckling, the method used by C-FER Technologies (C-FER) involves using rotation measurement devices (inclinometers) to calculate the strain change between the most compressive and tensile fibres of the specimen (intrados and extrados, respectively) with respect to the bending direction. This value is then subtracted from the tensile strain gauge readings as measured by the strain gauge(s) located on the extrados of the specimen. The average compressive strain values derived from the inclinometer and extrados strain gauge measurements are based on the assumption that the plane sections remain plane.
Recently, five large diameter pipes were bend-tested at C-FER’s testing facility in Edmonton, Alberta. In addition to the compressive strain measurement method used by C-FER described above (C-FER method), a visual image correlation (VIC) camera system was used to survey the strain distribution on the compressive face of the specimens. This paper gives a brief description of the test setup and instrumentation of this test program. The VIC camera setup and measurement technique are described and the overall strain distribution on the bending intrados as measured by the VIC cameras is presented. Strain measured by the VIC system is compared with gauge measurements at local points as well as the average compressive strain behaviour of the specimens obtained through the C-FER method described above. The results show that the VIC system can be a candidate to replace the conventional measurement techniques employed for compressive strain limit testing in support of strain-based design of arctic pipelines.