UT engineering professor receives $300,000 grant for pipeline research

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A $300,000 grant was awarded to civil engineering associate professor Salvatore Salamone last month for his pipeline safety research.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration awarded the grant for Salamone’s research on pipeline corrosion, which would prevent environmental disasters such as oil spills . 

“The impact could be huge,” Salamone said. “If you think about pipelines under water, if oil spills (happen), there is huge damage. There are a lot of accidents that have occurred in the past related to corrosion damage in pipelines.”

Salamone is a leading researcher in detecting and estimating pipeline corrosion using high-frequency waves. He submitted the research proposal to the grant review board in the PHMSA and received an outstanding rank based on scientific merit and the feasibility of the research’s management plan. He said the success of the research could reduce the large costs of maintaining pipelines and detect corrosion, one of the leading causes of pipeline failure. 

Overall, $3.8 million was given to 11 universities. According to the grant guidelines, the federal government will fund no more than 80 percent of the total cost of each project. The rest of the cost falls upon the universities. The grant also covers the compensation for the graduate students participating in the study. Postdoctoral researcher Arvin Ebrahimkhanlou said this aspect of research can have many benefits not just for the project but also for the students participating in the research.

“It also has positive educational outcomes,” Ebraimkhanlou said. “The people who are working on the project are able to continue their education and be experts in this area so that in the future they can be hired by the industries who are going to use and implement these types of technologies.”

The project has already attracted interest from the Amerapex Corporation, a company that offers technical expertise involving corrosion detection. University researchers have tested their methods on Amerapex’s facilities before, but with the grant, future studies can be much more extensive than previous attempts.

“Through the PHMSA award, our team will be able to perform in-depth studies and experiments to develop a state-of-the-art structural health monitoring system for pipeline corrosion inspection,” said Stylianos Livadiotis, research assistant and civil engineering graduate student. “This system will have the key characteristics of being economic, automated and capable to diagnose the early stages of corrosion damage.”