Many cities in the northeastern U.S. transport electrical power from place to place via underground cables, which utilize voltages from 68 kv to 348 kv. These cables are placed in seamless steel pipe to protect the conductors. These buried pipe-type-cables (PTCs) are carefully designed and constantly pressurized with transformer oil to prevent any possible contamination. A protective coating placed on the outside diameter of the pipe during manufacture protects the steel pipe from the soil environment. Notwithstanding the protection mechanisms available, the pipes remain vulnerable to electrochemical corrosion processes. If undetected, corrosion can cause the pipes to leak transformer oil into the environment. These leaks can assume serious proportions due to the constant pressure on the inside of the pipe. A need exists for a detection system that can dynamically monitor the corrosive potential on the length of the pipe and dynamically adjust cathodic protection to counter local and global changes in the cathodic environment surrounding the pipes. The northeastern United States contains approximately 1000 miles of this pipe. This milage is critical to the transportation and distribution of power. So critical, that each of the pipe runs has a redundant double running parallel to it. Invocon, Inc. proposed and tested a technically unique and cost effective solution to detect critical corrosion potential and to communicate that information to a central data collection and analysis location. Invocon's solution utilizes the steel of the casing pipe as a communication medium. Each data gathering station on the pipe can act as a relay for information gathered elsewhere on the pipe. These stations must have 'smart' network configuration algorithms that constantly test various communication paths and determine the best and most power efficient route through which information should flow. Each network station also performs data acquisition and analysis tasks that ultimately determine the corrosion risk in a local area. The system has virtually no installation costs and can operate on battery power for at least two years.
Karl F. Kiefer,
"Corrosion potential analysis system", Proc. SPIE 3398, Nondestructive Evaluation of Utilities and Pipelines II, (15 March 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.302518; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.302518