Frictional forces for disc-type pigging of pipelines

M. H.W. Hendrix*, C. M. Graafland, R. A.J. van Ostayen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the frictional force which is acting on a pipeline pig. Two complementary experimental setups have been designed and used to study the sealing disc of a pig, which is responsible for the frictional force between the pig and the pipe wall. Six 12’’ off the shelf sealing discs from two different vendors have been used. The first setup is a static setup in which the sealing disc is subjected to a normal wall force and a tangential friction force. A unique feature of the setup is that the ratio between the friction force and the wall force can be readily adjusted. This allows to experimentally determine the force ratio which is directly related to the Coulomb friction coefficient, which is often a difficult parameter to predict. Furthermore, the static setup is used to systematically study the effect of oversize, thickness, and Young's modulus of the sealing disc on the frictional force. A direct comparison with Finite Element (FE) calculations is made. The second experimental facility consist of a dynamic setup in which a sealing disc is pulled through a vertical 1.7 m long pipe. The effect of possible lubrication on the frictional force is studied by applying water to the sliding contact and comparing the results with dry pull tests for different sliding velocities. The corresponding difference in the Coulomb friction coefficient was quantified using FE calculations which were successfully verified with the static setup. The sensitivity of possible wear of the sealing disc on the frictional force is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-918
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Friction coefficient
  • Pig velocity
  • Pipeline pig
  • Sealing disc


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