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Title: Fracture control in carbon dioxide pipelines
Category: Technical papers from the Journal of Pipeline Engineering
Downloadable: Yes 
Project No.:
Research Agency:
Catalog No.: 2110s
Date of Publication: September, 2007
Price: $25.00 US
Authors: Dr Andrew Cosham and Robert Eiber
Abstract: THE NEED TO reduce emissions of ‘greenhouse gases’, such as carbon dioxide, to minimize the implications of climate change is clear. One of the technologies that may play a role in reducing emission is CO2 capture and storage (CCS). The widespread adoption of CCS will require the transportation of the CO2 from where it is captured to where it is to be stored. Pipelines can be expected to play a significant role in the required transportation infrastructure.

The transportation of CO2 by long-distance transmission pipeline is nothing new: there are examples of CO2 pipelines in USA, Europe, and North Africa. The required infrastructure for CCS may involve new pipelines and/or the change-of-use of existing pipelines from their current service to CO2 service. The transportation of CO2 by pipeline brings with it issues that are different from the transportation of natural gas or oil.

Fracture control is concerned with designing a pipeline with a high tolerance to defects introduced during manufacturing, construction and service; and preventing, or minimizing the length of, long running fractures. ‘Captured’ CO2 may contain different types or proportions of impurities from ‘reservoir’ CO2, and this may have implications for the initiation of defects, such as corrosion. The decompression characteristics of CO2 mean that CO2 pipelines may be more susceptible to long running fractures than hydrocarbon gas pipelines. Many existing CO2 pipelines have mechanical crack arrestors installed at regular intervals along their length. Fitting crack arrestors is expensive. Advances in steelmaking practices have meant that the toughness of linepipe steel has significantly increased over the years. It is therefore informative to look at the issues associated with achieving fracture control in CO2 pipelines, review previous work, and consider the implications of developments in the understanding of how fracture control can be achieved.

The steps necessary to develop a fracture-control plan for a CO2 pipeline are discussed. The differences between the properties of hydrocarbon gas and CO2 that make CO2 pipelines more susceptible to running fractures are explained, and the additional complexity of the problem is outlined. Simplifications that allow conservative estimates of the toughness required to achieve fracture control are presented. Areas where there gaps in existing knowledge are highlighted, including the accuracy of gas-decompression models, and the effect of impurities.

It is shown that fracture control can, in principle, be achieved in CO2 pipelines constructed using modern linepipe steel without the need for mechanical crack arrestors.

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