Collaboration between Blueshift International Materials Inc., the University of Strathclyde and the Oil & Gas Innovation Center (OGIC) has helped to accelerate the development of a new aerogel product with applications in oil and gas pipelines.
Aerogels are the world’s lightest solid materials, composed of up to 99.98 percent air by volume. Within the oil and gas industry the development of cleaner and more durable aerogel blankets will improve insulation for deep-sea pipe-in-pipe oil and gas pipelines by reducing installation costs, improving pipeline compression resistance, reducing the amount of steel in pipeline constructions, and consequently increasing oil and gas flow and assurance.
Blueshift, a Texas-based corporation, was founded in October 2013, to focus on the commercialization of polymer aerogels for application in oil and gas; aerospace; radio frequency and radar; automotive and building materials.
Blueshift’s initial product is AeroZero, a polyimide aerogel provided in tough and highly flexible thin films, semi-flexible wafers and thicker monoliths that are at least 500 times stronger than conventional silica aerogels. The product’s 100 percent polymer construction also produces no dusting, negating the production of dangerous particulates and resultant dangerous materials handling protocols.
OGIC provides a single access point to the knowledge and capabilities of Scottish universities for the oil and gas industry. It part-funds and provides management support to projects with the potential to deliver technology solutions to the exploration, production and decommissioning challenges facing the industry. Key aims for OGIC are to stimulate knowledge exchange and research activities and to provide an environment that supports the development of the next generation of business innovators, academics and entrepreneurs in Scotland.
Blueshift engaged with OGIC to support the development of the polymer aerogel blanket, and selected the University of Strathclyde as its academic partner.
“We highly value our partnership with OGIC and the University of Strathclyde. This collaboration really supports Blueshift’s drive of getting our polymer aerogel blanket to market,” said Tim Burbey, president of Blueshift. “This was Blueshift’s first experience working with a Scottish University. The team demonstrated an exemplary level of technical expertise. The well-managed and executed project integrated a multi-disciplinary approach to solve our challenging material science issues. We were pleased with the results stemming from the high quality technical work.”
The work proposed and executed by Strathclyde focussed on the blanket design and validation of the selected design. The university proposed a multi-disciplinary team comprising of experts in composites design, composites engineering, and materials science. The team utilized an integrated design-build-test iterative process and carried the project through proof of concept, processing improvements and material modification.
“The success of this project serves to underline the world class capabilities within Scottish universities and research institutes which are applicable to oil and gas technology development,” said Ian Phillips, chief executive of OGIC. “The work carried out to date is fast-tracking a new product to market and has resulted in an ongoing relationship between Blueshift and the University of Strathclyde.”
Blueshift required fast track delivery and Strathclyde’s multi-disciplinary, integrated approach accelerated the project. Blueshift is continuing to work with the University of Strathclyde as they take this project onto the next phase of development.
“Research and design in super-insulating composites presented a timely opportunity to address critical challenges faced by the oil & gas industry, who would like to push the envelope in energy conservation,” said Dr Liu Yang, lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. “The promising outcomes from this initial phase of the project have demonstrated the University of Strathclyde’s continued support, to this industry for new product development in this area.”