Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Wenxing Zhou


The failure of corroding pipeline joints may induce severe consequences. However, maintenance is expensive due to the cost of excavating and repairing a single joint and typically a significant number of joints that need repair. It is central to develop an optimal cost-effective maintenance strategy that balances cost and safety. A key component of the strategy is the reliability based condition evaluation of pipeline joints. The focus of the research reported in this thesis is therefore developing efficient reliability assessment methods for pipeline individual joints, and developing an optimal maintenance framework for the entire pipeline system.

First, efficient system reliability methods relying on the first-order reliability method (FORM) and important sampling (IS) are developed for the assessment of the time-dependent probabilities of small leak and burst failure of pipeline joints containing multiple corrosion defects. In addition, a novel method is developed within the FORM to obtain the design points efficiently. An improved equivalent component approach for evaluating multi-normal integrals is also developed to improve the efficiency of the FORM for system reliability analysis.

In addition, a multi-objective optimization-based maintenance framework for corroding pipeline systems is formulated optimizing three objectives, i.e. the conditioned probabilities of burst and small leak, respectively, and repair cost. An improved genetic algorithm with a pre-training population is utilized to investigate the optimal Pareto front. The benefits of this framework enable decision makers to access a series of non-dominated optimal repairing solutions with respect to multiple conflicting objectives.