Bullet Sensors & Transducers e-Digest, Vol. 148, Issue 1, January 2012: Products News

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Development and Validation of an Automated Ultrasonic System for the Non-Destructive Evaluation of Welded Joints in Thermoplastic Storage Tanks


25 January 2013, Barcelona, Spain Technology Assistance BCNA 2010 S. L., a SME type company and its project partners have launched of the European Seventh Framework Project ‘Development and Validation of an Automated Ultrasonic System for the Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of Welded Joints in Thermoplastic Storage Tanks’ within the EC - FP7 'Capacities' programme under the call for 'Research for SMEs'.


Plastics tanks are normally designed for a finite life, usually between 15 and 25 years. However, due to economic pressure, many of these tanks are still in operation beyond their design life, often with little or no engineering justification. It is also not uncommon for plastics tanks to be used for storing chemicals that they were not designed to contain. For these reasons it is very important that operators of plastics tanks and vessels inspect them throughout their life. An issue at hand is that there are currently no standards for the in-service inspection of plastics tanks. There is also very limited expertise available on the visual examination of plastics tanks and virtually no use of non-destructive examination (NDE).


The majority of visual inspections are external and can therefore only identify cracks that break the outside surface of the tank. Since many of the cracks initiate from the inside of the tank there is already a leak path through the tank wall if and when the crack is detected. Internal inspections are carried out less frequently, if at all, because they are expensive, potentially dangerous to the inspector, and result in a shut-down because the tank has to be emptied.


The PolyTank project will determine the potential failure mechanisms in plastics tanks and storage vessels and develop ultrasonic NDE procedures, techniques and systems to be able to identify these. An important aim of the project will be to develop an inspection system that is site-rugged and simple to operate.


As part of the project, welded joints representative of those used to fabricate plastics tanks and vessels will be manufactured containing known flaws. These will be inspected and the NDE data analysed to determine the limits of flaw detection. In parallel, the significance of flaw size and quantity will be established in relation to service requirements. This will be achieved by long-term mechanical testing of joints containing known flaws, and comparison with results for welds containing no flaws. The prototype NDE equipment, designed and built as part of this project, will be assessed under both laboratory and field conditions, and the inspection procedures developed will be submitted to CEN as the basis for producing a European standard on this subject.


The Polytank project will establish the following:


  • Ultrasonic NDE techniques and procedures for the examination of plastics tanks and vessels;

  • A database of critical defect sizes and contamination levels that cause a reduction in the long-term integrity of each type of welded joint;

  • An NDE system for the reliable volumetric examination of plastics tanks and storage vessels.


Within the framework of the PolyTank project, the Technology Assistance BCNA 2010, S. L. as a SME group member collaborates with the TWI (Cambridge, UK), Chem Resist Group, Ltd. (Dewsbury, UK), Acutech, Ltd. (Αthens, Greece), InnoTecUK (London, UK), Health and Safety Executive (Bootle, UK), UNIVAR, Ltd. (Bradford, UK) and HESSEL Ingenieurtechnik, GmbH (Roetgen, Germany).


“This new technology opens a wide opportunities to introduce a novel inspection system for non-destructive testing and monitoring of plastics tanks and storage vessels”, said Dr. Sergey Y. Yurish, an R&D Director of Technology Assistance BCNA 2010. “We hope to have a prototype of inspection system in 2015 after project finished” – added Dr. Yurish.


For more information about the PolyTank project please visit the projects web section at Sensors Web Portal: PolyTank


More details about Technology Assistance BCNA 2010, S. L. are available at TAB’s web site: http://www.techassist2010.com/



About Technology Assistance BCNA 2010, S.L.


Technology Assistance BCNA 2010, S.L. (TAB) is a start-up company founded in 2010 in Barcelona, Spain after very success European Project ‘Smart Sensors Systems Design’ (MEXT-CT-2005-023991 SMARTSES) in the frame of Marie Curie Chairs Excellence (EXC) programme with the aim to design, develop and promote new measuring and sensing technologies, based on novel, advanced methods of measurements of frequency-time parameters of signals. One of the main objectives of TAB is to reduce existing gap between research and industry by introducing a new generation of cost effective smart sensing technology and to establish our digital measuring technology and it's advantages as alternative to common analogue measuring principles to enter the large application potential in sensor technology. Developed technologies and electronics components give a unique opportunity to create and produce various digital sensors, multisensor systems and robust sensor systems with high metrological performances and wide functionalities including such intelligent functions as self-adaptation and self-identification. It is a basis for a new technological platform for smart sensor systems integration.


The TAB is dedicated not only to continuous enhancement of the existing product range, but also to responding to customer demands and suggestions with a high degree of flexibility and openness. This ensures that all solutions are custom tailored and represent the state-of-the-art in ultra-precise measurement technology for frequency-time parameters of signals.


For more information on TAB products and technology, please visit http://www.techassist2010.com





Javier Cañete,

Technology Assistance BCNA 2010 S. L.

Parc UPC-PMT, Edificio RDIT-K2M, C/ Esteve Terradas, 1

08860 Castelldefels, Barcelona, Spain

Tel.: +34 93 413 79 41

E-mail: info@techassist2010.com

Web: http://www.techassist2010.com

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