The DeltaV-Seal was developed by the Norwegian company to address the weakest link in industrial pipeline systems, the gasket. The company states that the reason for this invention was that conventional technologies weren’t able to perform a gas-tight sealing that stayed tight over many years, mainly because they were affected by various forms of wear and tear to the soft sealing elements.
By adapting metal-to-metal sealing principles from subsea and gas applications, Pipeotech developed a single-piece metal gasket for raised faced and flat faced flanges that could not only seal tighter than existing technologies, but stay tight over time.
“Due to careful material selection our product mitigates some of the major driving factors in seal degradation and failure such and thermic cycling and galvanic corrosion, preventing the damage and costs associated with leakage as well as reducing the need for regular maintenance.”
With its product, Pipeotech intends to fully deliver on its promise: “to deliver absolute integrity, always. Pipeotech prevents leaks, protecting people, the environment and businesses from the dangers of leaks (see box text Triple Ps). We transform standards for industrial piping one leak at a time.”
As mentioned before, corrosion is one of the main culprits in damaging pipeline integrity. This degradation process ultimately can lead to dangerous situations, putting human lives and the environment at risk and also leading to economic damage due to damaged equipment and unplanned downtimes.
There have been various studies conducted on the economic impact of corrosion. According to the United States Cost of Corrosion Study (2018), produced by NACE International, one of the world’s leading authorities on corrosion engineering and control, corrosion costs the US oil and gas exploration and production industry $1.4 billion a year. Broken down, this equates $589 million in surface pipeline and facility costs, $463 million annually in downhole tubing expenses, and another $320 million in capital expenditures related to corrosion.
Given Pipeotech’s new technology, the company has tested its product extensively (see overview ‘Certifications and tests’). These tests have been conducted by renowned institutes such as DNVGL or amtec. To this date, DeltaV-Seal is the only gasket that has received type approval from DNVGL. Another milestone was passing EN-13555 and Shell MESC SPE 35/300 with “flying colours”.
Recently, the University of Wroclaw in Poland conducted cryogenic testing on the DeltaV-Seal. The BFJ contained a DN40/PN40 material 316L DeltaV-Seal with a sealing length of 0.2 metres and containing helium pressures from 10 bar to 100 bar.
The results show that the DeltaV-Seal maintains a tightness level higher than 10-8 mg/s at temperatures down to -196°C at all tested pressures. “The seal was also shown to expand and contract at the same rate as the temperature fluctuations, confirming in action that extreme temperature fluctuations do not affect the tightness of the seal”, the company states.
“When compared to other gaskets that have undergone similar tests at lower pressures (spiral-wound + graphite, Kammprofile + graphite & Kammprofile + PTFE) comparisons show that the DeltaV-Seal was more than 10,000 times tighter. The other technology stopped testing at 8 bar. We continued to 100 bar and maintained a perfect gas-tight seal.”
Tests at O&G-majors
Despite the aforementioned test results and certifications, the industry prefers field tests before adopting this new technology. At the moment, several O&G-majors are conducting field tests with the DeltaV-Seal. For now, it’s too early to disclose any preliminary results, Pipeotech says.
“We understand that the oil and gas industry needs extra assurance that our technology works for their particular process conditions”, the company states. “We are confident that we can meet their requirements.”
As for greenfield projects, Pipeotech has entered several agreements with companies that have decided on the company’s technology. “For these projects, often the best available technology is selected in the FEED-stage. We also notice that (private) investors are more focused on sustainable solutions that are geared towards reducing GHG-emissions and have a circular nature.”
In total, roughly 6,400 gaskets are involved, for high-temperature conditions, installed at all the oil pipelines, all high-temperature locations, including hot oil systems, and zones which normally would require ATEX zoning (intrinsic zoning).
Currently, the new plant is almost one year in operation. According to Pipeotech, the results are good. The ATEX zoning in re-refinery has been eliminated, hence lower operational cost and tightness levels are as expected.
A significant share of Pipeotech’s product performance rests on the choice of materials and the detailed machining. With the hiring of Jan Oredsson as the CTO – in Q1 of 2021 -, Pipeotech has managed to attract a very experienced specialist.
According to a company statement, “Jan - who has joined us as a Corrosion and Integrity Management Specialist - is an internationally recognized pipeline integrity and corrosion expert and has decades of extensive experience in leading positions in the pipeline engineering sector, including working on large offshore projects for BP. His detailed knowledge of pipeline and process integrity is the perfect fit for Pipeotech as it drives forward delivering permanent leak-proof seals to the industry.”
Mr. Oredsson - when interviewed by Valve World - says that the DeltaV-Seal technology and its working principle are unique in the industrial pipeline sector. “It is a perfect example of utilizing an important characteristic of metals, namely plasticity. This is the ability of metals (and other materials) to change shape under certain pressures and/or temperatures. These parameters are prone to change depending on the metal.”
Devil in the detail
One would think that using carbon steel and 316L in a single piece wouldn’t involve much material science as these are readily available on the market. However, as Mr. Oredsson claims, the devil is in the detail. Referring to “chemistry”, he says Pipeotech can analyze the process parameters and media to select the optimal product. “It is also a matter of cost-benefit ratio. What does an end user want from our product and how much should this cost?”
The latter statement indicated that Pipeotech more and more moves towards tailor-made solutions – within certain boundaries – to get the best possible solution per client.
“There are various parameters we need to consider for our Delta V-Seal. First of all, the flange size and the material. The size of the sealing area, as we need sufficient space for the sealing ridges of the gasket. Then we need process conditions (temperature, pressure, media) to select the right material. Finally, we employ modelling and corrosion testing to confirm our design.”
Insights into end-user’s processes
According to Oredsson, Pipeotech is more and more moving towards a combination of production and consultancy. “The better insights we have into the processes (media, temperatures, pressure levels etc.) of our customers, the better our solution fits. When you think of it, it makes sense. Whereas gaskets originally were an afterthought, they are equally important as the other components in an industrial piping system. As such, they deserve more attention, both from the end-user and the manufacturing industry’s perspective.”
Given Pipeotech’s mission, it comes as no surprise that the company is involved in developing a NACE-standard regarding the degradation of sealing systems. Mr. Oredsson is the documentation project manager of a select group of ten experts. This standard, which is expected in a first draft later in 2021, is aimed at improving the integrity of existing assets. The initiative clearly resonates with an earlier statement in this article that every component in industrial piping should not be taken for granted as the weakest link determines the strength – or integrity- of the entire process configuration.
Oredsson: “Again, we have the tightest, safest and most durable flange gasket on the market that ensures pipeline integrity over an extended period of time with all the benefits that come with it.”