Removal of Debris from Metallic Mains



The metallic gas distribution network has a 200-year history – some of it was built in Victorian times and is still used today. Under the Iron Mains Replacement Program, GDNs are replacing the iron mains with new plastic pipes. Most of this replacement is carried out using live / dead insertion; the new pipe is pushed into and through the old one, avoiding the need to dig up roads, this method reduces the time that consumers are without gas and so is preferred. In addition, network operators are also increasing the use of robotics to repair, inspect and maintain the remaining metallic pipelines.


Both of these operations can be hindered by debris in the main, therefore, there is an opportunity to improve the mains insertion and inspection processes by ensuring the host main is clear of any debris before using robotics or any form of insertion techniques.
The aging metallic system can contain many obstacles that prevent effective inspection or insertion these can be, but not limited to: –


• Dust
• Corrosion products
• Anaerobic material (mainspray and internally injected. These will often be set and solid in the main.)
• Monoethylene glycol (MEG, injected over many years, when the system carried manufactured gas.)
• Loose items left inside system when laid, bottles, boots, can’s etc.


Existing methods for removing some, but not all of this debris include the use of Wire Brush ‘Pigs’, Pull Throughs, Duct Brushes and Foam Swabbing ‘Pigs’. All these methods require the main to be isolated which results in customers being disconnected from the network.
The network operators’ aim is to manage debris inside the live metallic pipelines to facilitate operations under live conditions, without the need to isolate customers.


Preferred output


The GDNs are looking for a solution that will facilitate the identification, management and extraction of debris from the pipeline under live conditions. The solution can include other external methods of removing the debris from the network. Please see the full call brief, linked below, for illustrations of typical scenarios that would be experienced that the preferred output would need to address.


Read the full brief for this innovation call here.





The closure date for registering initial interest is 24.01.2019. 


To register initial interest and request an ‘expression of interest’ form, please enter your details online. Alternatively, please call the Energy Innovation Centre on 0151 348 8040 and quote the reference number.


Please note: Specific EOI forms are created for each individual ‘Call for Innovation’ and the matching form will be required to progress any submissions. Office open hours are between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.