BuiD researches natural gas transport
British University in Dubai working on gas transit with Siemens & Arup
Pipelines have always been a cost-effective means of transferring hydrocarbons. As the region’s pipeline networks – particularly those built to meet burgeoning demand for gas for power generation and industrial feedstock – expand, two Dubai-based academics are investigating ways to make the transit of gas over long distances more efficient.
At the British University in Dubai (BUiD), the first research-based university in the UAE, Professor Robert Whalley and Associate Professor Dr Ala’a Ameer have been devoting research to the efficient transportation of natural gas.
In conjunction with UK engineering giant Arup and Siemens, Whalley and Ameer have employed distributed parameter analysis of pipeline networks to come up with ways of better regulating the uniform flow of gas through a pipeline system.
Whalley and Ameer have been modeling pipeline dynamics to devise a method of flow control they call “Least Effort Control Theory,” over pipelines with over 50km between compressor stations.
By using newly designed controllers which work in concert within a pipeline, Whalley and Ameer expect to see actuator wear, noise and heat and maintenance costs reduced, prolonging the life of pipeline infrastructure.
The pair is also researching the modelling and control of drilling operations. This initiative is aimed at determining the principal dynamic stresses in drill strings, which are subjected to combined bending, twisting and compression loading when in use.
This loading combination causes buckling, with the result that rupturing of the drill string spiral is possible, with attendant delays, costs and equipment damage.
The modelling and subsequent application of feedback control would prevent costly and damaging events such as buckling, enabling the advancement of oil/ gas exploration and cost-effective operations.
The research being conducted at BUiD is relevant to GCC countries, where further pipeline priojects are planned, and the Caspian region, where negotiations have been underway for several years over rival plans for a transcontinental gas pipeline which would wean Europe away from Russia.
Whalley and Ameer are aiming to trigger further work with students, academics and professional engineers on how pipelines can be made more efficient. The pair aims to build a research cluster bridging academia and industry, by helping the provision of efficiently-distributed utilities and hydrocarbons, and assisting with the UAE’s energy conservation initiatives.
As part of this, BUiD offers a dual-site PhD program with the University of Manchester in the UK in Long Gas Pipeline Flow Dynamics.
Whalley and Ameer are keen to communicate with the oil and gas industry in the region about developing and testing the latest developments in pipeline efficiency, to ensure cost-effective, optimal and reliable supplies of the region's gas.