Developing a system for predictive Corrosion under Insulation (CUI) management
CorrosionRADAR designs technology to detect corrosion in inaccessible and harsh environments. Describing itself as ‘enabling plant 4.0 by creating smarter assets’, the Cranfield University spin-out has been developing a novel automated system for monitoring and predicting Corrosion under Insultation (CUI). This patented system is supporting a move away from reactive risk-based inspections to predictive corrosion management.
The system uses a distributed sensor system, with long, thin sensors (<3mm diameter) permanently embedded in the same insulation around the asset. The core technology is called Electromagnetic Guided Wave Radar (EMGR) in which an electromagnetic wave injected into the sensor can be used to detect both the location and extent of corrosion damage, at long distances.
The company approached OGIC for support with two different projects that would help it develop next-generation sensors for its system. The first project related to the analysis of corrosion rates and corrosion correlation of various metals. The project was carried out by the Condition Monitoring Research Group at the School of Engineering at Robert Gordon University, and is described in another OGIC case study.
The second research project focused on sensor manufacturing technologies, deployment of sensor, and corrosion testing under simulated CUI conditions in order to determine which materials could be used for the outer shield of the sensor.
For this second project, OGIC connected CorrosionRADAR with Dr Todd Green and Professor Sudipta Roy in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, who undertook the following work:
- a survey of manufacturers and manufacturing techniques to identify manufacturers who could make prototype sensor cables
- looking at deployment options, including retrofitting sensors in existing pipework and insulated structures, and the possible use of robotic pipe crawlers
- assessing the relative corrosion behaviour of various metals under CUI conditions that could be employed to manufacture the cable sensors
While there was a degree of variability in the corrosion rates of all the metals tested, the research showed it was likely that copper or aluminium sensor materials could be used to assess corrosion in a carbon steel pipe.
Dr Green and Professor Roy’s work enabled CorrosionRADAR to take the technology from TRL 4 to level 5/6 – a significant step closer to developing its next-generation CUI sensor and taking its technology to field trials.
“Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) is among the major maintenance challenges in the chemical process industries. This is evident from the fact that in the oil and gas sector alone, every year around £3.5 billion are spent annually on CUI management using manual methods. In this project, CorrosionRADAR technology for automated CUI monitoring and prediction gained further maturity and validation by corrosion characterisation of the sensors with industry standard test procedures and by addressing the sensor manufacturing challenges for global adoption.”
Dr Chiraz Ennaceur, Chief Executive Officer, CorrosionRADAR
“It was extremely valuable for us to work with CorrosionRADAR who are developing sensor technologies to address asset integrity monitoring in the oil and gas sectors. The project has provided an excellent opportunity for an interdisciplinary team of academics at Strathclyde to apply their knowledge of corrosion, automation and manufacturing techniques to support the development of CorrosionRADAR’s sensor technology.”
Dr Todd Green, KE Associate, University of Strathclyde