CENSIS tackles billion-pound challenge of hidden corrosion

A new 12-month project between CENSIS and Corrosion Radar Ltd, and supported by Innovate UK under its recent Innovation in UK Infrastructure Systems funding round, is set to tackle a huge challenge for the oil and gas, nuclear, renewables, and construction sectors: how to detect corrosion hidden under insulation.

In the oil and gas industry alone, the cost of monitoring Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI), in assets such as pipelines, is estimated at around £3.5bn annually. Current practice relies on periodic removal of insulation in selected areas to check visually for corrosion.

The project will explore the use of remote sensors to monitor corrosion continually without the need to physically remove insulation.

Financial, safety and environmental benefits

As well as cutting the financial costs associated with manual corrosion monitoring, a sensors-based system could reduce the need for people to work in challenging conditions to remove insulation.

Their project could also open the way for a predictive maintenance regime, based on IoT infrastructure and cloud-based data analytics.

“Tackling CUI in the oil and gas industry is the first application we foresee for this technology,” says Dr Chiraz Ennaceur, CEO of Corrosion Radar. “In the downstream segment alone, there are more than 700 crude oil refineries with over 2 million pipelines – and 25%-30% of these are prone to CUI. So the need for better monitoring technology is huge.”

Opening the door for IoT enablement

CENSIS will help Corrosion Radar to integrate its corrosion and moisture sensors with IoT infrastructure, including long-life, battery-powered wireless data logging using industry protocols such as LPWAN, and cloud-based analytics. This will enable data from the sensors to be delivered cost-effectively to end-users as actionable information – even from areas that are currently off-grid in terms of power provision and connectedness.

The 12-month project will carry out a technical feasibility study for IoT enablement of the sensors, feeding directly into IoT infrastructure design and product development. With this place, the door is opened for the future work to design a predictive maintenance model.

There would also be potential for UK manufacturing and technology providers around the knowledge developed.

Dr Rachael Wakefield, CENSIS Business Development Manager, noted: “This CENSIS project with CorrosionRADAR is specifically around tackling corrosion, but it relates to a wider change – digital enablement and the use of IoT and sensor systems to make our infrastructure smarter.”