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Project Outline

Project Overview

The consortium proposes to develop new and novel long range ultrasonic (LRU) guided wave techniques, sensors and systems for detecting defects and corrosion in internal tank floor plates, without the need to empty and clean the storage tank. By placing the LRUT sensors outside the tank; the proposed method will be able to detect corrosion and other defects on tank floors without the need to empty and clean the tank and without the need for operator entry inside the tank.

The Industrial Need

Large above ground storage tanks filled with hydrocarbon and hazardous liquids such as oil, oil-derived products, chemicals and process plant liquids are in widespread use in the UK, Europe and throughout the world. Tank farms are normally located in coastal areas close to large centres of population (e.g. Sites in the UK: BP Saltend, Hull, Shell Stanlow, Merseyside and Esso Fawley, Southampton - amongst others).

Leakage from corroded storage tanks, especially their floors, is a major environmental, economic and safety hazard for the UK and Europe. The tank farms above are normally coastal and close to large population centres. The current and growing risk of tank failure together with the potential risk for fire and explosion at nearby petrochemical plants is unacceptable.

Project Goals

The main aim of this project is to develop a field-usable Long Range Ultrasonic Testing, NDT system for the inspection of large above ground bulk liquid, storage tank floors without the need for access to the inside of the tank or to empty its contents. The specific objectives are:

  1. To develop new LRUT test techniques based on previously developed and proven LRUT technology into a field-usable test technique for tank floor testing applications for tanks up to 60metres diameter,
  2. To determine the sensitivity to degradation achievable and the limits of performance over the target tank range of 30metres radius i.e. range of penetration,
  3. To produce a field prototype LRUT NDT system, sensors, signal processing and software for inspection of tank floors from the outside of the tank over the target tank range of 30metres radius i.e. range of penetration,
  4. To demonstrate and validate the system's performance on in-service, in-situ tanks with correlation of the results with the actual condition (extent of corrosion and detected weld defects) of the tanks examined by subsequent internal examination to a target accuracy of +/- 10%,
  5. To integrate the application of this inspection approach with operating techniques and procedures for storage tanks by direct involvement of two large industry tank operators in the consortium.