Accelerate - June 2013

Successfully sensing the cracks

American technology incubator Qi2 is using expertise at Callaghan Innovation to develop a fast, effective and highly sensitive screening tool that will be able to detect faults in pipe work.

Qi2, a technology leader in measurement and sensors, works closely with Quest Integrity NZL Limited, art of the Seattle headquartered Quest Integrity Group (a TEAM Industrial Services company) which employs around 40 staff in its offices in New Zealand.

“The tool being developed with Callaghan Innovation will improve detection performance and open new business streams in inspection of ferrous alloys,” said Quest Integrity’s Consultant Scientist Dr Kevin Stevens.

The initiative is aimed at dealing with defects in process pipework, a multibillion dollar problem for the oil, gas and process industries and one that gives rise to serious safety concerns for operators.

“We carry out Finite Element and fracture mechanics based defect assessments to fitness-for-service standards for a wide range of clients, who want to know if there are cracks, pits, corrosion or other structural faults in their pipes, how quickly they will worsen, and if they can be repaired or should be replaced.

“Conventional sensors have limitations in terms of the depth at which they will operate. By using lower frequencies, such as 1 to 10 Hz as opposed to 100 Hz to 1 kHz in conventional technology, the tool under development will provide much more accurate and comprehensive information.”

Dr Stevens says working with Callaghan Innovation on the project made sense to both Qi2 and Quest Integrity Group. “Callaghan Innovation has the skill set required, with an established GMR materials research programme that was looking for opportunities to develop devices based on these materials, and we are an inspection and assessment company that is aware of the problems faced by the pipeline industry and the limitations of the current technologies.”

The next phase will involve performance testing the sensors on metal structures before working with Qi2 to integrate the sensing technology with other electronics needed to make the hand-held tool.

Updated: 4 September 2015