Pipe to Soil Potential, Soil Resistivity, Soil PH, Entrapped Water PH, Coating Inspections, and MIC Testing all provide critical data that provide a client with paramount information to mitigate corrosion for buried pipes. Cathodic protection is an affective way to protect steel from corrosion. Soil Resistivity and Soil PH measure vital information to assess pipe to soil potential.

Pipe to Soil Potential

Pipe to Soil Potentials are important measurements for assessing the performance of cathodic protection (CP) systems and detection of certain types of anomalous conditions along underground, coated pipelines.  Cathodic protection is an electrical current that is introduced onto the pipeline to direct corrosion away from the pipeline onto another source.  The simple method of protection connects the metal to be protected to a more easily corroded ‘sacrificial metal’ to act as the anode.  The sacrificial metal then corrodes instead of the protected metal.

Applications for Pipe to Soil Potential:

  • Measures Cathodic Protection (CP) potential in an area
  • Detects any problems with CP so client can make alteration

Here are some advantages of Pipe to Soil Potential:

  • Pipe to Soil Potential is an established method for measuring cathodic protection.
  • Measurements of structure to soil are helpful in location of possible corrosive areas in a metallic structure such as the pipeline. The corrosive areas are indicators of current flowing from the structure to the soil.
  • Provides useful data helping client determine the corrosivity of the pipeline in that areas.



Soil Resistivity

Soil resistivity is measuring the conductivity of the soil around the pipeline.  The soil resistivity is a critical factor to pipe to soil potential.  With cathodic protection, you are introducing an electrical current between the pipe and the soil so the soil resistivity measures how much the soil resists the flow of electricity.  When designing an extensive grounding system, it is advisable to locate the area of lowest soil resistivity in order to achieve the most economical grounding installation.  Typically, the lower the resistivity the higher the corrosivity.

Field soil resistivity measurements are taken with a specially designed probe that is inserted into the ground near the underground pipeline.  The soil resistivity helps clients make any adjustments needed to protect the pipelines.

Moisture Content affects soil resistivity
Soil corrosivity is largely dependent on the moisture content of soils compared to any other variables. Water is considered one of the major elements needed for the process of electrochemical corrosion, along with other components such as metal and oxygen. Essentially, corrosion will not take place when the soil is totally dry. According to various studies, higher moisture content can reduce the soil resistivity, which can in turn increase the potential for corrosion. Bear in mind that when the soil has reached its saturation point, extra moisture will have little or no effect on the resistivity.

Applications for Soil Resistivity:

  • Measures the conductivity of the soil
  • Determines soil resistivity so cathodic protection can be adjusted as needed



Soil PH

Soil PH is the measure of the acidity or basicity of the soil.  Soils possess varying levels of acidity, ranging from a pH of between 2.5 and 10. When the pH level reaches 5 or below, fast corrosion rates as well as early pitting in steel or metallic structures are likely to occur. A pH of 7, or neutral, is favorable because it can minimize the possibility of damage due to corrosion. Take note that soil’s intrinsic pH can be affected by other factors such as rainfall.

Like soil resistivity, soil PH measurements are taken with a specially designed probe that is inserted into the ground near the underground pipeline.  Soil PH and resistivity affect cathodic protection.

Applications for Soil PH:

  • Measures the soil PH
  • By determining soil PH and soil resistivity, the client can alter cathodic protection if needed



Entrapped Water PH

Entrapped Water PH is the measure of Alkalinity in water that has become entrapped beneath disbonded coating.  Alkalinity is a measure of the capacity of the water to resist a change in pH that would tend to make the water more acidic. The measurement of alkalinity and pH is needed to determine the corrosiveness of the water.

In general, water with a pH < 6.5 could be acidic, soft, and corrosive. Acidic water could contain metal ions such as iron, manganese, copper, lead, and zinc.  In other words, acidic water contains elevated levels of toxic metals. Acidic water can cause premature damage to metal piping.

Entrapped water PH is determined by inserting a litmus strip into the water to determine the PH.  This information is one more piece of data to help pipeline companies take necessary precautions to keep pipelines safe.



Coating Inspection

A coating inspection is a basic visual inspection performed by highly trained technicians.  This is an important inspection that should be performed every time the pipeline is exposed.  During the visual inspection, the technician records the condition of the coating.  Features like: bonded or disbonded, wrinkled, missing, torn, etc are paramount and recorded when assessing coating condition.  The coatings on pipelines protect the assets and decrease future damage mechanisms.


MIC Testing

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) testing is utilized when suspicion that an industrial system may be affected by corrosion and/or the biodeterioration effects of bacteria known to be associated with microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).  XCEL NDT technicians retrieve samplings of affected areas and insert into the test kit.  The MIC testing allows samplings of affected areas to be inserted into sterile vials.

A written report, which includes chemical, microbiological, and metallurgical results is provided to the client within two weeks?? after receipt of the samples. In addition, the report will also include conclusions with regard to the extent of materials deterioration and recommendations for mitigation. Owners and/or operators of systems affected by ‘area of suspicion’ can then make informed decisions regarding rehabilitation and future preventative maintenance and protection of their investment.

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