Crack management has become a major focus for many gas and liquid transmission pipeline operators. Failures associated with crack-like features have been a concern for both pipe operators and regulatory agencies. As a result, pipeline operators are excavating large numbers of features for not only in-line inspection (ILI) validation purposes, but also to make repairs. Additionally, ILI technologies have advanced significantly in recent years and are identifying an increasing number of features with greater levels of accuracy. With increased data generation, operators are faced with an unprecedented amount of information that requires response prioritization.
Because of high levels of conservatism associated with today’s assessment methods, pipeline operators are spending a significant amount of capital excavating crack-like features. There is a need for improved assessment methods that integrates testing simulated / synthetic crack-like features. This paper will provide details on a study funded to systematically generate crack-like features in pipeline materials with the application of cyclic internal pressure loading. Synthetic crack-like features were generated in 12.75-inch × 0.250-inch, Grade X42 pipe material using electronic discharge machining (EDM) to form notches. Notch depths were 10% of the nominal wall thickness and ranged from 1-inch to 3-inches in length. The pipe samples were then pressure cycled to achieve microcracking at the base of each notch.
Initial stages of the program involved sectioning features to quantify crack growth levels. Once a systematic process for growing cracks from EDM starter notches had been validated, testing involved cyclic pressure fatigue to failure and burst testing. The advantage with the crack generation methodology used in this study was the ability to generate sharp, crack-like features without altering the microstructure of the pipe material in the vicinity of the feature. Programs such as the one presented in this paper are useful for both generating features in pipeline materials and quantifying behavior of pipeline materials subjected to cyclic pressure and burst loading.