Engineers at GE Healthcare, GE Oil & Gas, Oceaneering and BP are exploring the use of X-ray technology to see if it can spot microscopic cracks and corrosion in underwater pipelines.
The team packaged GE’s medical X-ray detector—including a very delicate and expensive piece of glass—inside a high-tech rugged case designed to protect it from sea water and pressure. The reconfigured detector fits inside a larger machine attached to a deep-sea submersible rig. The rig latches onto the pipeline like a handcuff, slides down its length, and takes X-ray snapshots at each step.
The subsea X-ray detector has performed well in lab tests, at simulated depths of up to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).