Friction Stir Welding Crawler for Internal Repair and Refurbishment of Pipelines - FSWBot


"Steel pipelines corrode due to of the nature of the liquids they contain. Also, cracks can form over time leading to failure and leakage of the contents, resulting in severe economic losses and environmental pollution. To avoid this, inspection, evaluation, and repair activities are performed periodically. Internal cracks and areas of corrosion and metal loss are monitored by the use of intelligent inspection devices (PIGs) which carry special sensors. Sections of pipeline that are found to be likely to fail are reinforced using an externally applied bolt-on clamp which is both costly and is difficult and dangerous to install.

The FSWBot project will see the development of a radical new solution to internal corrosion and cracks that form inside pipelines. Meeting the objective will result in a much cheaper, safer repair process that will enable pipeline asset owners and their service providers to produce very high- quality welds in steel pipelines without shutting down and purging petroleum pipelines and without the use of divers and surface vessels. This is of enormous importance especially in respect to inaccessible pipelines and those which are installed in parallel groups where space around pipes is restricted.

The objective of the project is to develop a robotic platform with a payload consisting of unique hydraulic friction stir welding equipment which produces no sparks. Data obtained by prior high-resolution mapping of anomalies that are produced by metal loss and corrosion will be used to provide information for mission planning. Repair will be carried out in-situ using no external power and no welding consumables. The robot will generate electricity from the liquid flow in the pipeline via a variable pitch turbine diving a generator, which will supply power to a hydraulic pump and a battery which drives the magnetic tracks.

FSWBot will bring about a step change in the competitiveness and growth for 3 UK business -- namely Forth Engineering, Proserv and Innvotek."

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Forth Engineering (Cumbria) Limited, MARYPORT £1,049,053 £ 734,337


London South Bank University, United Kingdom £219,676 £ 219,676
Proserv UK Limited, Westhill £26,545 £ 12,872
Innvotek Ltd £205,251 £ 143,676
Lancaster University, United Kingdom £199,988 £ 199,988
The Welding Institute £160,019 £ 160,019


10 25 50