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Solar Patrol to Fight Corrosion
June 2, 2010 18:07

Corroded pipes

Russian space physicists from Vavilov State Institute of Optics developed an unusual technology for fighting corrosion of oil and gas pipelines.

Nearly half of accidents on Russian gas pipelines happed due to abnormally high external stress corrosion. Average corrosion speed is about 0.25 millimeters per year, but sometimes is reaches 1.16 millimeters per year. Corrosion cuts lifetime of pipelines to 5-10 years instead of normal 25-30 years. Ministry of Emergency informs that accidents on pipelines, caused by corrosion, happen in Russia two times oftener than in Western Europe.

Russian physicists obtained data, which showed that major pipelines and large electric networks were affected by so-called space weather – powerful geomagnetic storms and solar bursts. These phenomena are known to cause geomagnetically induced currents in pipelines, which are located in middle and high latitudes (more than 50 degrees North of Greenwich) – in Russia, Canada and Alaska. Researchers paid attention to the fact that when the Sun was active, cathodic protection stations of major pipelines often switched off or collapsed. Pipes, left without electrochemical protection, suffer from accelerated corrosion. Technical regulations allow about 10 days of no electrochemical protection for major pipelines per year, but our planet suffers from about 50-100 powerful geomagnetic storms – twice a week!



When a magnetic storm takes place near our planet, Earth’s ionosphere is invaded by billions of energetic corpuscles – electrons and protons, Russian physicists explain. Coming out of magnetosphere and radiation belts, they create additional ionization in upper atmospheric layers. Excessive ionization promotes formation of ionosphere current systems, which in their turn, generate electric fields. These electric fields together with geomagnetic variations cause geomagnetically induced currents during geomagnetic storms on Earth’s surface and in various conducting systems over and inside the ground.

In order to prevent sharp rise of corrosion speed in major pipelines, Russian scientists suggested creating a space monitoring service. The idea is that such service would inform about possible effects of geomagnetically induced currents on pipelines and define “tranquility gaps”, during which cathodic protection stations could be switched off (for maintenance and repair, if necessary). Such predictions are based upon measurements of heliophysical activity by means of electro-optical system “Space Solar Patrol”, designed in Vavilov State Institute of Optics. The system consists of radiometers and spectrometers of ionizing radiation.

Vavilov State Institute of Optics is not the first science and research institution in the world, which fellows paid attention to the problem of predicting weather in space. The Centre of Geophysical Situation Predictions is part of the Institute of Earth’s Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radio Wave Propagation (Russian academy of sciences). This Centre provides information to customers. However, no one collects information on Sun’s “breath”, necessary for reliable registration of solar bursts and predicting parameters of geomagnetic storms.

Source: Science & Life

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists Space    

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