Pipe-in-Pipe by Rapid, Continuous, Smart Alloy Coating

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College Park, Maryland
Project Term:
12/07/2020 - 03/06/2022

Critical Need:

Legacy pipe malfunctions create operating risk and legal liability for utilities, negatively impact system owners’ financial performance, and are costly to gas consumers. Today, repairing legacy pipes involves excavating and replacing them, typically with high-density polyethylene pipe. Replacement costs range from $1-10 million per mile, depending on the pipe’s location (rural vs. urban), complexity of the excavation, and costs for restoring roads. Utilities also incur costs whenever gas service is disrupted for repairs. REPAIR seeks to eliminate the highest cost components, excavation and restoration, by rehabilitating pipes without their removal—in essence, by automatically constructing a new pipe within the old.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The team led by University of Maryland (UMD) will employ its patented high-temperature sintering process to rapidly sinter a steel coating layer in pipe-in-pipe configurations. This approach, which uses high temperature (1500-2000 ℃) Joule heating, includes the ability to rapidly sinter alloy powders in ~10 seconds, resulting in a material with high mechanical strength (~400-600 MPa), self-healing ability, and a long lifetime (50 years). If successful, UMD’s alloy coating approach will generate new steel pipe to replace the old steel pipe at a low cost for gas service and much improved mechanical strength, corrosion resistance, and longevity. UMD also expects that the rapid sintering process can be scaled to meet commercial market demands.

Potential Impact:

REPAIR seeks to eliminate the highest pipe rehabilitation cost components, excavation and restoration, by repairing pipes without their removal.


REPAIR projects should improve the sustainability of domestic natural gas distribution by economically rehabilitating legacy pipes.


REPAIR will produce 3D maps and data management/visualization tools that integrate geospatial data for leak testing, integrity/inspection data, coating deposition data, and locations of pipes and adjacent underground infrastructure.


REPAIR program innovations will accelerate legacy pipeline replacement while reducing cost to utilities and gas customers.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jack Lewnard
Project Contact:
Prof. Liangbing Hu
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Diakont Advanced Technologies,Inc.
University of Pittsburgh

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