Yearlong Project to Study CUI Detection Using IoT
A British startup and a Scottish innovation center are teaming up for a 12-month study that aims to determine how sensors and Internet of Things technology could help to detect and address corrosion under insulation, a costly maintenance problem, especially in the energy sector.
Funded by Innovate UK, the collaboration between CorrosionRadar Ltd. and CENSIS (the Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems) will look at how IoT infrastructure could be used to process and communicate data from CorrosionRadar’s sensing hardware to users as actionable information.
Valued at just over 75,000 pounds (about $100,000), the project will further technology developed by CorrosionRadar, a spinoff from Cranfield University’s Oil and Gas Engineering Centre. The startup invented a long, thin, flexible sensor to detect moisture and corrosion in areas inaccessible by more traditional testing means.
The Cost of CUI
Corrosion under insulation, commonly referred to as CUI, is a particularly difficult issue to detect and remedy as it occurs on substrates that aren’t immediately visible or accessible. According to CENSIS, the problem costs the oil and gas industry about $4.7 billion each year. CUI was blamed for the 2015 Plains All-American Pipeline rupture in 2015.
Besides insulated petroleum pipelines, it can be an issue in nuclear plants and other facilities. In early 2017, inspections at Japanese nuclear sites were ramped up after holes in ventilation pipes were uncovered; the insulation hadn’t been removed in nearly 30 years.
If successfully implemented, the CorrosionRadar technology would eliminate the need to remove insulation in order to find corrosion.
The study at CENSIS will look at using technology like long-term battery-powered wireless transmitters to convey data from the sensors in the field—often in areas not easy to supply power to traditionally—to the user monitoring the condition of the substrate.
Data collected and modeled by the CorrosionRadar technology would then be integrated into a pipeline management system, enabling the asset owner to carry out further inspections when risk is indicated by the sensors.