Making Pipelines Safer Through Research

BABAK JAHANI | THE SPECTRUM
Dr. Fardad Azarmi shows off the team’s work.

Members of the North Dakota State engineering staff attended an annual conference put on by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in Baltimore, Maryland.

One of the projects presented at the conference revolved around on-shore pipeline safety. NDSU associate professors Fardad Azarmi and Ying Huang are developing a type of coating for on-shore pipelines that could prevent spills from pipeline fractures in North Dakota.

Zhibin Lin, assistant professor, is conducting research on preventing internal corrosion of onshore pipelines.

North Dakota is no stranger to pipeline failures. The Keystone Pipeline failed in 2016, contaminating a creek on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. This sparked protests among tribal members and environmentalists.

North Dakota just finished cleaning up an oil spill from 2013 that cost $100 million to clean up. The spill led to over 1.4 million tons of excavation.

The $8 million Keystone XL Pipeline project is set to begin next year. The pipeline is reported to carry 830,000 gallons of crude oil from Canada.

Babak Jahani, a research graduate student, said the research being done is elevating NDSU in the eyes of the nation. The research is also about “safety, the safety of our state, the safety of our country.” This, according to Babak Jahani, is why NDSU’s work was recognized by the USDOT.

The team of researchers sent to Baltimore for the conference was praised as one of the most active by the department, according to Jahani. It was an honor to be amongst the 12 universities at the conference, Jahani said.

NDSU already has an “established fame at the USDOT,” according to Jahani. He also said this will bode well for NDSU in the future. “They know us and they trust us, and we can participate more,” Jahani said.

“The channel of opportunity has been opened,” Jahani said. He said he hopes more students will take advantage of this and come up with their own ideas that could be presented to the USDOT.

According to Jahani, the USDOT has noticed that the ideas coming from NDSU faculty are working, which is why the school is receiving more funding and opportunities.

According to Azarmi, “The mission of Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at The U.S. Department of Transportation is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives.”

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