GE Extends Pipeline Inspection Pact with German Reseachers

GE Energy's oil and gas division is extending through October 2006 its partnership with one of Germany's leading research centers to develop new technology used in pipeline inspection tools.

GE Energy's work with Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, which began in 1985, will focus on developing smaller, more powerful electronic components used on pipeline inspection gauges, known as pigs, which are sent through pipelines in search of various defects that could lead to costly leaks or ruptures.

The Forschungszentrum is located at the outskirts of the city of Karlsruhe, in the State of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany.

Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe's relationship with GE Energy began with Pipetronix, a predecessor company that was eventually acquired by GE Energy, to jointly develop and commercialize the first ultrasonic pigs. The first cooperation contract was signed in August 1985, the month the development work began. Since then, the relationship has resulted in a stream of inspection tools for pipelines to detect both corrosion and crack-like defects.

The cooperative agreement has always focused on electronics and digital signal processing in hardware and software, according to Mike Simmons, general manager for GE Energy's pipeline integrity management operations.

"We will continue to concentrate on developing smaller and faster electronics to enable higher performance and resolution for our tools, even in pipelines with smaller diameters," Simmons said.

Simmons praised the work of Forschungszentrum's research team supervised by Prof. Dr. Hartmut Gemmeke and Helmut Stripf.

Founded in 1956, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe is funded jointly by the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Baden-Württemberg and is one of Germany's largest science and engineering research facilities. Its research and development programs are involved in industrial, pre-commercialization phase research; product and process development; and fundamental scientific research. The center's work focuses on five topics: the environment, energy, health, key technologies and the structure of matter.

"Our expertise in developing the technology for improving the capabilities of pipeline inspection tools means pipeline operators have a better chance of detecting any problems before a line leaks or ruptures," said Prof. Gemmeke, director of Forschungszentrum's Institute for Data Processing and Electronics. "This helps to protect the environment, which is one of our core missions."