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Detection and Monitoring in Vital but Difficult Locations

Tue, 07 March, 2023

"Corrosion is one of the defects that has caused huge damage to the environment as well as human and economic losses."

Said Nagu Sathappan, during her PhD presentation at the NSIRC Research and Innovation Conference.

Nagu's inspiration to become a mechanical engineer had begun when she read about the achievements of Dr APJ Abdulkalam, also known as the Missile Man of India.

His books in the field of aeronautical engineering, helped Nagu realised her passion, and provided the building blocks for her academic future.

After completing her Bachelor's in Engineering from Adhiyamaan College of Engineering, Nagu embarked on her professional journey, starting as an Apprenticeship Trainee at Spicer India Ltd and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Through hard work and dedication, Nagu worked her way up to become a Data Management Engineer and Project Associate at the General Motors Technical Centre India Pvt Ltd and the Indian Institute of Technology.

To expand her skillsets and knowledge, she enrolled in a Masters in Engineering Design at Anna University and completed the degree with distinction.

In 2012, Nagu became an Assistant Professor at Chennai Institute of Technology and PSNA College of Engineering & Technology, where she could share her passion for the subject and inspire young minds with cutting-edge technologies.

She enrolled in the NSIRC PhD Programme in 2018 where her research aimed to address corrosion based accidents, faced by the oil and pipeline industries, and to provide important solutions.

“Based on my past experiences in Industries, I have found an Industrial PhD to be more interesting and exciting” said Nagu. Her PhD was awarded by London South Bank University and sponsored by Lloyd Register Foundation (LRF).

Development of an underwater and high-temperature sensor for a permanently installed corrosion monitoring system

“Corrosion represents a significant problem to many industries,” said Nagu’s PhD supervisor Dr Liam Penaluna, Senior Project Leader at TWI Ltd. “Nagu’s work focuses on detecting and monitoring it in some of the most difficult yet vital locations. Her research outputs have a global impact on both safety and environmental protection. I am delighted that she has been granted her PhD in recognition of all the hard work.”

Nagu examined the use of magnetic flux leakage (MFL) testing for pipes in extreme underwater and high-temperature conditions, detection and characterization of MFL distribution caused by the loss of metal in ferromagnetic steel pipes.

A wide application of remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles would be used for data communication in pipes and upgrading sensors for monitoring pipes at high-temperature conditions.

The results of the study will be used to design and develop a magnetic circuit that works efficiently under extreme conditions, reducing the chance of potentially dangerous accidents.

By improving the structural integrity assessment of long pipelines, NSIRC research is helping improve environmental safety and protect personnel involved.

During her PhD, Nagu presented her research at six conferences and published her study in two peer-reviewed journals, the MDPI journal ‘Sensors’ and ‘Marine Technology Society Journal.’

She also authored three full conference papers published in NDE India 2020, Prognostics and Health Management Conference (PHM) 2022, and Robotics in Natural Settings, CLAWAR 2022.

“My journey was an exceptional experience with TWI and NSIRC, providing the tools and network to thrive,” said Nagu. “My PhD was guided by four supervisors in a span of three years due to COVID, but it didn’t affect my objectives.”

“I am grateful to NSIRC, LSBU and LRF for the encouragement and support during my PhD journey and my regular LRF meetings gave me a sense of confidence.”

Nagu is now working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at The University of Manchester and intends to advance the engineering community by conducting innovative research.


Nagu taking a break from her thesis to explore the coast of England. Photo: Nagu Sathappan
Nagu taking a break from her thesis to explore the coast of England. Photo: Nagu Sathappan

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