TWI is the project co-ordinator of HEDRad, a two-year collaborative project involving EU companies and research organisations run under the EU Framework 7 programme. The objective is to develop digital computed radiography technology for the volumetric examination of large scale safety critical pressure components for the detection of in-service defects, the presence of which could result in catastrophic component failure.
The energy sector use processes that operate at high pressure and often high temperature. The engineering components include pipes, valves, turbine casings, pump bowls, catalytic crackers/reformers etc, all of which can be made of large section thick materials to withstand the severe pressure/temperature conditions under which they operate. All these components can be prone to in-service failure resulting from material degradation mechanisms such as metal fatigue, creep and corrosion.
Failure of such components could easily be catastrophic in terms of local and district fatalities/injuries and environmental /economic impact. There are approximately 700 refineries, 5000+ chemical plants, 450 nuclear power stations and in excess of 3000 fossil fuelled power stations around the world. The trend is for the number of these plants to increase as the world's developing countries consume ever increasing amounts of energy.
Capital assets such as power stations, refineries and petrochemical plants usually generate revenues of typically ?1 million/day. However, despite their strategic and critical applications and the dire consequences of component failure, there are no economic, reliable non-destructive testing techniques to volumetrically in-service examine critical thick section pressure retaining components, which are vital to a plant's continued safe operation.
The technological advances that will be made as a result of HEDRad will enable the internal condition of valves and other thick wall components to be assessed without the need to open it, thus reducing the current three day cycle to only half of a day.
For more information on this project, go to www.hedrad.com.