Leak Repair Demonstrations for Pressurized Mechanical Systems

Project ID: 20074
Principal Investigator: Grace Weber
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2020, 2021 and 2022
Keywords: None

Research Question

The Bureau of Reclamation operates many facilities in the Western United States, including hundreds of dams and over 50 powerplants. As these facilities age, their metal structures may be subject to deterioration such as corrosion that can compromise the structural integrity of pipe and pressure vessels. Several facilities are currently experiencing problems with pressurized pipe and pressure vessel leakage due to corrosion-induced failures. These leaks must be repaired to prevent further damage to the pipe and surrounding structures. However, leak repair can be difficult due to factors like inability to interrupt service and lack of effective repair techniques for pressurized systems.

Existing repair techniques such as welding or other metal repair methods generally require the system to be unpressurized and dry. Other techniques such as clamps or patches may continue to allow seepage and corrosion, and will likely fail again before more permanent repairs can be implemented. On pressurized systems, leak repair can be especially difficult due to the need for a repair technique that can withstand operating pressures. These challenges reveal the widespread need for a reliable repair technique with a high degree of corrosion resistance that will maintain integrity in pressurized conditions.

The proposed study investigates a method of leak repair on pressurized pipes and pressure vessels using corrosion-resistant, high pressure rating composite materials, such as fiber reinforced plastics (FRPs). The composite material is applied as a wrapping reinforcement after preparing the metal surface around the defect. In the proposed research, laboratory testing would be performed to replicate field conditions and observe the effectiveness of the composite wrap repair technique. Results will provide improved recommendations for surface preparation requirements, effectiveness of the technique in halting leakage and preventing further corrosion damage, and estimated lifeti

Need and Benefit

As Reclamation facilities age, metal components may be subject to damage from factors such as corrosion deterioration. This can result in leaks or other failures which must be addressed to maintain structural integrity of the system and to prevent damage to surrounding structures. Reclamation facilities are in need of recommendations for repair of pressurized pipes and pressure vessels, and one attractive solution is a composite wrap to provide a temporary, corrosion-resistant, and safe high strength repair until depressurization and drying of the system is possible and a permanent solution can be implemented. However, quantitative data from the results of laboratory testing is needed to provide specific information on factors such as necessary surface preparation, estimated service life of the repair, and details on implementation of the repair technique.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Please contact research@usbr.gov about research products related to this project.

Return to Research Projects

Last Updated: 6/22/20