Strain-based design philosophies have been developed to ensure safe pipeline operation through regions of slope instability, seismic activity or discontinuous permafrost while extending the life expectancy of the pipeline in those zones. Strain-based design methodology typically involves a comparison of the strain demand (estimated conservatively using numerical pipe-soil interaction analysis techniques) to the strain capacity (predicted using experimentally benchmarked models).

This paper presents a comparison of measurement techniques for laboratory testing of critical compressive strain capacity (CCS). The CCS is defined as the strain coinciding with the peak bending moment, averaged over a gauge length often selected as one pipe diameter across the buckle location. As explored in previous work [1], the three most common methods to measure strain on the specimen intrados, with respect to bending, include 1) direct measurement using strain gauges on the intrados with respect to bending, 2) calculation of CCS from the output of discrete instrumentation (DI) including strain gauges and inclinometers; and 3) direct measurement of surface strains using Visual Image Correlation (VIC) techniques.

In 2015 and 2016, the Centre for Reliable Energy Systems (CRES) and C-FER Technologies 1999 Inc. (C-FER) collaborated on a series of full-scale experiments (performed by C-FER) and detailed finite element analysis (FEA) (performed by CRES) intended to assess and understand the effect of various anomalies on the strain capacity of line pipe. To facilitate comparison of the DI strain measurement method and the newer VIC method, these tests were conducted using both methods. The results demonstrate that the VIC technique can provide a more complete measure of the strain field and greater accuracy in cases where uneven strain distributions challenge the assumptions associated with DI methods. High level test data is presented and one test displaying the discrepancy between VIC and DI results is described. Finite element modelling, employed to explore the digression observed between the two strain measurement methods, is also presented and the comparative results of the two strain measurement techniques are discussed.

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