Car ‘crashworthiness’ tests may cut oil and gas leaks

A computerised model designed to test what happens to cars in crashes might have radical implications for improving off sea oil and gas drilling, according to new research.

The research carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has shown using simulations of material deformation in car crashes can predict how pipes may fracture in offshore drilling accidents.

As a case study, the team simulated the forces involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

They found their model accurately predicted the location and propagation of cracks in the oil rig’s drill riser — the portion of pipe connecting the surface drilling platform to the seafloor.

In a side-by-side comparison, the researchers found their model’s reconstruction closely resembled an image of the actual fractured pipe taken by a remotely operated vehicle shortly after the accident occurred.

MIT professor of applied mechanics, Tomasz Wierzbicki, said: “We are looking at what would happen during a severe accident and we’re trying to determine what should be the material that would not fail under those conditions

“For that, you need technology to predict the limits of a material’s behaviour.”

More information can be found here, on the MIT website.

Luke Walsh

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