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New material makes refineries safer and more cost effective

Preston-based company BS Stainless has launched SoundMet, a new jacketing and insulation material for oil and gas pipelines, after a two-year collaboration with MERI

The Lancashire company employed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership associate to research new insulation and jacketing materials at Sheffield Hallam. It led to a new product which has improved life expectancy, prevents corrosion and can reduce material and labour costs.

BS says SoundMet has the potential to save man hours and money because the new insulation provides metal jacketing and weather protection in a single product rather than previous multi-layered approaches - and is much quieter than other pipeline solutions.

The new product reduces the risk to staff exposed to a noisy environment, and also cuts costs as money can be lost through a loss of energy due to sound and vibration.

Kashif Mohammad from BS, who worked at MERI as part of its knowledge transfer programme during the partnership, explained how around 5–10% of an average oil or gas plant requires acoustic insulation around areas of particularly loud noise such as compressors and pumping stations.

He said, 'As well as being uncomfortable and even dangerous for staff, these noise levels represent a waste of money as energy is lost to sound and vibration, decreasing efficiency.

'SoundMet has been designed to dampen sound and vibration, and reduce man-hours and labour costs. Integrating mass loaded vinyl (MLV) bonded to metal considerably reduces the amount of man-hours required to complete the job, representing a substantial cost saving.'

The current system of jacketing for pipeline insulation uses sealant on the circumferential and longitudinal overlaps to secure the cladding.

This results in a metal-on-metal bond which, while generally effective, can allow moisture ingress. With SoundMet, the metal-metal bond is replaced by a metal-MLV bond, which has been proven to be a far stronger seal in pull-apart tests and also negates water ingress and prevents corrosion, greatly improving the life expectancy of the system it is applied to.

BS Stainless sales director Mark Almond said, 'SoundMet is an extremely exciting and revolutionary development for the BS Stainless brand and is another part of our continued, dedicated search for new and improved metal applications; this is the future of metal jacketing for acoustic insulation.'

Dr Abhishek Asthana from Sheffield Hallam University, added, 'This three-way partnership between BS Stainless, Sheffield Hallam and the associate has transformed the company into a manufacturer and supplier of innovative products to the oil and gas industry and has created a niche market for itself worldwide, replacing existing products and challenging the resistance to change in the industry.'

The new product is the latest in a long association between the University and BS Stainless, having previously worked together to get the company CE approved for its stainless steel coil, sheet, strip and wire – one of the first British stainless steel processors and distributors to achieve it.

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