Pipelines & Process Piping

One of the most important components of the industrialized world’s infrastructure is the vast network of pipelines and process piping.  Pipelines transport water, sewage, steam, and gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons. The term “process piping” generally refers to the system of pipes that transport process fluids (e.g., air, steam, water, industrial gases, fuels, chemicals) around an industrial facility. Pipelines and process piping are generally made of steel, cast iron, copper, or specialty metals in certain highly aggressive environments. The use of plastic materials is growing, especially in hydrocarbon-based distribution lines and in sewer lines. Very large-diameter water transmission lines are often made of reinforced concrete.

Pipelines and process piping are the safest, most energy efficient means by which to transport fluids and gasses, whether across the country or manufacturing facility. However, given the extensive network of pipelines and piping, failures do occur, sometimes with extensive property damage or loss of life. Proper determination of the cause(s) of such piping failures often involves input from many different engineering and scientific disciplines. As such, Exponent, with its broad range of skill sets, is uniquely positioned to investigate pipeline and process piping failures, and has done so on hundreds of occasions, ranging from quarter-inch process tubing to 20-ft-diameter concrete water distribution pipelines.   Our work has ranged from addressing the soils that surround buried pipe, to material and weld characterization, mechanical stress on the pipe and fluid flow issues.

Given the potential consequences associated with pipeline and piping failures, mitigation of failure risk is of critical importance. Exponent’s scientists and engineers provide in-depth technical knowledge that has helped our clients efficiently minimize risks during the design, layout, construction, and operation of pipelines and piping systems, as well as in the development and implementation of integrity and risk management programs. Exponent staff has utilized their extensive expertise to assist clients on preventive projects ranging in scope from reviewing the design and construction of the process piping at petrochemical plants to overall integrity assessment reviews of long-distance oil and gas transmission pipeline systems.

Clients that have utilized Exponent’s pipeline and process piping expertise have included Fortune 500 manufacturing and petrochemical companies, utilities, pipeline companies, insurers, and capital project lending organizations.