Sunday, December 4, 2011
Enter Peter Cawley, Imperial College, London and a company called Permasense that has been set up to commercialize a new way to think about corrosion monitoring in the context of many chemical plants and refineries. Currently, tracking corrosion means inspecting miles pipes using ultrasonic scanners that measure thickness of a pipe wall by timing the reflections of pulses of sound from its internal and external surfaces. In the case of a refinery, this requires a plant shut down dealing with extremely hot pipe sections. Typically this type of monitoring is completed every four years - - wide safety margins then have to be imposed to ensure there is no rapid deterioration.
Permasense's secret is the methodology they utilize to attach scanners to pipes - - speciality shaped stainless steel that acts as both a poor conductor of heat and shaped to act as waveguides. You end up with better signal quality and a platform for continuous monitoring - - this doesn't prevent corrosion, it does let operators and engineers sleep better at night.