Researchers Use Crash Test Modeling Software to Predict Offshore Pipe Fractures
by Matthew D. Shaffer on September 19, 2011
In the future, offshore oil rigs may be safer because pipes are manufactured with safer materials, thanks to research at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology who are currently using car crash test software to predict pipe fractures.
Offshore drilling pipes may be subjected to extreme pressure as they travel deep into the ocean, and require material that can withstand these forces. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Impact and Crashworthiness Laboratory have been investigating a technique called Factor Predictive Technology. The technique involves using computer simulation in order to predict the strength and resilience of materials under impact. They're using the same simulations to test how certain drilling pipe materials could react under pressure.
The Deepwater Horizon oil explosion last year was a case study for the researchers, who used computers to simulate the forces that were involved in the tragedy. They found to their surprise that their model fractured at the exact same places as the actual fractured pipe in the explosion.
The researchers say that it is unlikely that any kind of material would have withstood the kind of forces that ultimately led to the BP explosion. However, they believe that enhancements can be made to current materials used in the manufacture of oil and gas drilling pipelines. Over the next few months, the researchers plan to analyze samples from retired offshore gas handling pipes, in order to further their studies.
The maritime lawyers at Schechter McElwee Shaffer and Harris represent persons injured in offshore oil rig accidents and families of persons killed in offshore rig accidents.