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BP Uses RFID Sensors to Track Pipe Corrosion

The system, provided by Permasense, enables the oil company to monitor pipe thickness at its refineries worldwide.
By Claire Swedberg
Based on the results of those trials, BP is now in the process of installing the system at all 11 of its refineries worldwide (located in Australia, Europe and North America), with six installed and operating to date. In the meantime, the researchers launched Permasense in 2009 to continue developing and marketing the product for use with other oil firms.

According to Collins, BP intends to install thousands of sensors over the next few years. (BP did not respond to requests for comments.) Thus far, one refinery is installing more than 1,000 sensors, while the others are starting with fewer units. Each sensor sends ultrasonic waves into a pipe wall, and measures the waves reflected back. The walls of uncorroded pipes range from 3 millimeters to 25 millimeters (0.1 inch to 1 inch) in thickness, and the system can sense a loss of as small as 0.1 millimeter (0.004 inch). Each sensor's radio chip transmits its unique ID number and the measurement data at preset intervals.

Permasense's Peter Collins
The closest neighboring Permasense unit receives that RF signal (the tag's maximum transmission range is about 55 yards), and then transmits that sensor's data to the next device, along with its own information, thereby creating a mesh network. All data is received by a gateway wired to a PC. Permasense software, residing either on the PC or on a server hosted by BP, stores that information, interprets it and makes it available to engineers and refinery management via the Internet.

To modify the sensor unit so that it can sustain the high pipe temperatures—which can exceed 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (538 degrees Celsius)—the sensor and RFID hardware is housed in a plastic casing and attached to the pipe wall via a set of legs, about 12 inches in length, through which the ultrasound waves are transmitted and received. The outer tips of those legs are attached to a mounting welded directly to the pipe.

In the future, Collins says, each of BP's refineries could use tens of thousands of sensors. Permasense has been marketing the system to other oil companies since the fall of 2010, and is currently in conversations with those interested in employing the technology.


F P Sanchez 2011-02-06 04:35:59 PM
RFID Sensors to Track Pipe Corrosion Hello, I would like to know more specification and details of this device. I work in an oil production field and need to verify new techniques to identify the corrosion inside our pipelines. Regards, Franklin Sánchez
Claire Swedberg 2011-02-09 01:39:19 PM
Senior Editor Franklin , Feel free to contact me directly to share what details you are looking for. cswedberg@rfidjournal.com
Reader 2011-02-15 12:45:19 AM
mobolaji akinwunmi Sir, please can you give me more information and data on the rfid monitoring device for monitoring corrosion in the oil pipe lines. I have interests in the nigerian oil industry where we have a lot of pipeline leakages due to corrosion
Ibrahim Katibi 2011-08-15 01:46:00 AM
thesis on rfid sir pls i m a communication technology student in final year and i intend to write my thesis on design and implementation of rfid technology in monitoring pipeline in nigeria petroleum industry please i need your help to get research material. thanks
Reader 2012-04-15 10:15:36 PM
DETECTION OF CORROSION I m a student of instrumentation engg & i would like to know how the practical implementation of this sensor and specifications of it !! my mail id is hemachandran89@gmail.com
Biodun Obileye 2013-06-05 10:21:35 AM
RFID with sensors - tracking of Oil and Gas telemetry data within Process, Instrumentation & other application areas (temperature, pressure, humidity, flow rate and shock). We are interested in talking to companies who have tried and tested solutions for these Use Cases please. My email address is biodun@dynakonsult.com

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