You are here

Q-Inline forms strategic alliance with Qi2 to deliver new generation EMAT inline technology to improve inspection of smaller diameter pipelines

28th September 2018

DOT-PHMSA, Operations Technology Development (OTD) and GTI partner in the research and development to deliver improved inspection method for unpiggable or difficult to inspect smaller diameter pipelines.

Q-Inline, (Quanta Inline Devices, Inc.a high-growth US inline pipeline inspection company, and Quest Integrated, LLC (Qi2) of Kent, WA, which pioneered unpiggable pipeline inspection technology, announced this week at the 2018 International Pipeline Exposition, details of their new technology alliance. The first product of which is a next generation Electromagnetic Acoustic Transduction (EMAT) ILI system to improve the inspection and integrity management of smaller diameter pipelines.

The new EMAT tool, which will see both free-swimming and wireline versions enter service with Q-Inline, is shorter in length and lighter in weight - the physical form factors needed to navigate through unpiggable pipelines with tight bends, low-pressures, and thin-wall, amongst other features.

The new form factor achievable with Qi2’s enhanced sensor package improves small diameter use of guided wave EMAT for crack detection. The patent pending design reduces unwanted acoustic propagation modes producing cleaner data to analyze, with improved detection and accuracy. 

 “A smaller low-weight in-line EMAT tool which provides detailed inspection of thin-wall small diameter pipelines that have more bends and deliver runs at lower-pressure has been a longtime challenge. Working with Qi2, which solved technical hurdles for unpiggable pipeline inspection along with the contributions from our industry partners made the delivery of this important solution possible,” said Billy Garrow, President Q-Inline.

The new system is the culmination of a five-year public-private research and development project between Qi2 and GTI with financial support from DOT-PHMSA and OTD, a consortium of North American utilities. Q-Inline provided Stage III funding. The new EMAT tool is expected to be only the first of next-generation technologies planned by the technology alliance between Q-Inline and Qi2.

“Q-Inline is committed to investing in the pipeline industry’s future and has a hunger and commitment to be a technology leader as an ILI solutions provider. Their technology development center in LaGrange, Texas provides the pipeline industry with world-class ILI testing and training facilities.  A rigorous tool testing and optimization capability prepare the company to deliver next-generation solutions to all pipeline operators including gathering, transmission, and local distribution companies,” said Milton Altenberg, CEO, Qi2.

Q-Inline forecasts the deployment of its EMAT tools for inspections into a wide range of difficult to inspect piping systems. This will include gathering lines, compressor stations as well as utility city gates, distribution mains, and cased crossings.

“New more rigorous regulation will require all pipeline operators to produce better inspection and condition assessment of their smaller-diameter pipelines. Inspection of unpiggable and lower-pressure small-diameter pipelines has faced several technical hurdles that needed solutions. The EMAT system will enable pipeline operators to identify anomalies that are traditionally difficult to find and assess, expanding inspection options. The technology is a testament to the industry’s commitment to improving overall system integrity and public safety,” said Maureen Droessler, VP, Operations, OTD.

First stage pilot projects, desired for both the US and Canada, will fully test navigation and detection capabilities - inside pipe of different pressures, geometries, length, material, and age - starting in the second quarter of 2019.  Following the test cycle, commercially deployable systems of varying diameters, are anticipated to be available for use as soon as the second half of 2019.

Related topics: