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Corrosion Detection from Afar

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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New technology being tested in the U.K. could change the way bridges and other structures are checked for corrosion, allowing inspectors a detailed look from a football field’s length away.

Engineering firm Opus International Consultants is working with researchers from Nottingham Trent University on a new instrument and software that would simultaneously perform 3D and spectral imaging, and could be operated via drone, in addition to more traditional means like a tripod-mounted or handheld camera.

Detailed Data

The RustScan device, with RustDetect software, would “generate detailed data regarding surface blistering and corrosion,” according to Nottingham Trent. A 3-D model of the structure could be created, then, to map out what areas need attention.

Corrosion on a bridge
Photos: Technology Publishing Company

The RustScan device, with RustDetect software, would “generate detailed data regarding surface blistering and corrosion.”

The remote imaging could be performed from up to 100 meters away, according to the university.

"Remote simultaneous 3D and spectral imaging will provide direct identification of surface rust and corrosion,” explained Nottingham Trent professor Haida Liang, head of the university’s Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art History & Conservation group. “The technology will also be able to provide a time-specific record of the condition of the bridge for future comparison with later scans, in addition to assisting in the development of an appropriate maintenance programme for the bridge."

Analyzing Wall Art

The spectral imaging technology comes from a perhaps unexpected source: It was developed for use in analyzing wall paintings. The common bond, the researchers explain, is iron oxide, present both in rusting bridges and in red ochre, used to make paints.

Rusting bridge

"Remote simultaneous 3D and spectral imaging will provide direct identification of surface rust and corrosion,” explained Nottingham Trent professor Haida Liang.

"It is fascinating to see that an instrument previously funded for the protection and understanding of historic wall paintings will now make an impact on this industry,” Liang noted.

Cutting Time, Expense

The ability to inspect for corrosion from afar could have implications in terms of both time and money for inspectors.

"Industry is keen to make more of what already exists rather than keep building new structures, which can impact upon the environment, health, safety and budgets,” said Opus International’s James Hulme. “Surveying of bridges is currently an extremely laborious process and much of it is carried out manually. We need technology that circumvents the need for people putting themselves in these potentially dangerous positions.”

The partnership between Nottingham Trent and Opus International came about as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, a U.K. program which pairs private companies with academic institutions.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Corrosion; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Inspection equipment; Latin America; North America; Quality Control; Steel

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