Polymer aerogel to optimise oil and gas pipeline applications

Blueshift International Materials, the University of Strathclyde and the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) have collaborated to develop an aerogel product, composed of up to 99.98% air by volume, for applications in oil and gas pipelines.

It is said that the development of cleaner and more durable aerogel blankets will improve insulation for deep-sea pipe-in-pipe oil and gas pipelines by reducing installation costs, improving pipeline compression resistance, reducing the amount of steel in pipeline constructions, and consequently increasing oil and gas flow and assurance.

Blueshift’s initial product is AeroZero, a polyimide aerogel provided in tough and highly flexible thin films, semi-flexible wafers and thicker monoliths that are claimed to be at least 500 times stronger than conventional silica aerogels. The product’s 100% polymer construction also produces no dusting, negating the production of dangerous particulates and resultant dangerous materials handling protocols.

Blueshift engaged with OGIC, which provides a single access point to the knowledge and capabilities of Scottish universities for the oil and gas industry, to support the development of the polymer aerogel blanket, and selected the University of Strathclyde as its academic partner.

The work proposed and executed by Strathclyde focussed on the blanket design and validation of the selected design. The university proposed a multi-disciplinary team comprising experts in composites design, composites engineering, and materials science. The team utilised an integrated design-build-test iterative process and carried the project through proof of concept, processing improvements and material modification.

Blueshift is continuing to work with the University of Strathclyde as they take this project onto the next phase of development.

Tim Burbey, president of Blueshift, said: “This was Blueshift’s first experience working with a Scottish University. The team demonstrated an exemplary level of technical expertise. The well-managed and executed project integrated a multi-disciplinary approach to solve our challenging material science issues. We were pleased with the results stemming from the high quality technical work.”

Tom Austin-Morgan

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