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Record breaking depths achieved in deep sea welding

Cranfield University research has led to new world record depths in deep sea subsea welding.

This research, carried out over a period of more than 10 years, has enabled new depths of up to 940m of seawater (msw) to be reached, over 600msw deeper than previous records.

For depths up to 180msw divers may be used for subsea pipeline maintenance and repair, but below these depths, mechanical couplings and other remote welding techniques are necessary.

The results will significantly impact the offshore pipeline industry across the oil and gas, and renewable energy sectors, the university said.

The research was funded initially by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), who installed the world’s highest pressure dry hyperbaric welding chamber at the university in 1997, able to simulate up to 2,500msw water depths.

In this first phase, the chamber was used for the detailed theoretical and practical research on welding techniques at high pressures, and in 2004, the results demonstrated that welding at these previously unreached deep sea depths was indeed possible.

Since 2004, following the success of this research, pre-qualification and qualification work has been performed by industry partner Statoil to determine the practicality’s of achieving these depths in the field.

This has culminated in the first successful deep sea trials conducted in Norway this year. The university is now conducting further detailed research focused on improving weld quality and process reliability.

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