Hot tapping or the pressure tapping is the method of making the connection to the pressurized system such as the pipeline or pressure vessels by drilling or cutting while it is on stream or under pressure. Hot tapping is the installation of pressurised connections that is done while they remain in operation. In other words, it is the welding done onto the in-service equipment.
Hot tapping is the method that is commonly used to repair the areas that have undergone mechanical damage or corrosion. It is also used to add branches for the system modification, whenever required.
Hot tapping connections typically are tapping fittings such as a reinforced branch or split tee, isolation valves such as gate or ball valve and hot tapping machine like the cutter housing.
The procedure involves the process of drilling or cutting the pipe wall and resulting in the removal of a section of pipe, known as the coupon. The coupon would be retained using the U wire that is attached to the tapping machine. When the cutting is completed the cutter is retracted into the adapter, and the valve is closed. This is continued with the further service or maintenance of the pipeline.
The beneficial of the hot tapping is that it reduces the cost and the potential dangerous environmental hazards. It helps in performing the welding without removing the pipe from service and venting quantities of greenhouse gases like methane.
The risk of burn-through, unstable decomposition of flowing product is one of the negative possibilities. Also, there could be a potential risk of hydrogen cracking. When welding onto the pressurised pipe, burn-through may occur if the area beneath the weld pool is not strong to take the pressure of the pipe. The violent reaction occurs when the pipe is heated under pressure resulting in unstable decomposition of the products flowing inside. The reaction can be prevented by taking precautionary measures such as taking care of not exceeding the critical temperature level of the flowing product.
Precautions To Be Taken While Hot Tapping Services
- The hot tap is not a routine procedure, and it is only done when there are no practical alternatives.
- Also, have the hot tap installed by the well-trained and highly experienced team.
- The wall thickness of the pipe that is drilled or sawed should be sufficient to avoid any hazard. The ultrasonic thickness gauge is used measure to the thickness of the wall.
- The risk of loss of containment during welding is high. For this, the existing thickness of the wall should be equal to the required thickness for pressure and the thickness allowance required for welding.
- Welding procedure development and qualification are required for hot-tapping welding.
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