Cryogenic cracking technology for breaking-out metallic gas pipelines

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Christopher O'Connor Christopher O'Connor
Principal Consultant

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Steel pipe


Conventional pipeline replacement technologies are designed to cut and break-out deteriorating metallic gas pipes at ambient temperature. These technologies work well for inherently brittle materials such a cast iron (CI) and spun iron (SI). However, they are hindered by the pliable nature of ductile iron (DI) and steel. DI and steel pipes are more difficult to remove and asset replacement strategies have avoided these pipelines.


This project will develop a cryogenic technology to induce brittle fracture in old DI and steel gas pipelines to accelerate the removal and replacement of deteriorating DI and steel  pipelines.


  • Increased pipeline replacement efficiencies
  • Enable an effective replacement strategy targeting all types of metallic pipeline types
  • Reduced risk to the public posed in by the gas distribution network.


There are thousands of kilometres (km) of DI and steel gas pipeline that will require rehabilitation in the UK alone. An example DI network of 2000 km’s will require a mains and service connection break-out approximately every 100m and 10 m respectively. Using new technology target time savings using new technology of only 90min and 20min will:

Reduce workload by 2000 weeks giving a cost saving of £5.8 million.

There are significant cost savings to be had by accelerating the removal of DI and steel pipelines for gas pipeline rehabilitation projects.