A typical electricity power plant of 500MW (both nuclear and conventional) has up to 4 kilometres of pipe work carrying superheated steam at pressures of up to 400 bars and temperatures up to 580 oC. The extreme pressures produce hoop stresses in a pipe causing the pipe welds to creep continuously in time until weld creep cracks are generated which, if undiscovered, may grow until the pipe ruptures. The pipes also suffer continuous cyclic loading through vibrations which produces fatigue cracks in the welds which if undetected are another cause of pipe rupture. Worldwide, failure to detect steam superheated steam pipe cracks results in a catastrophic failure every year or two with loss of life, appalling injuries, widespread power cuts and massive financial losses for the operators, typically with a cost impact of €120m per event. The project goal seeks to overcome the serious problems of superheated steamline integrity through the use of a high frequency long range ultrasonic condition monitoring system, permanently installed on pipe work, which will continuously inspect all welds in a plant during the entire plant design life whilst in service at 580oC (HotScan). Once installed at an outage there will be no need to remove lagging and perform inspection at subsequent outages, thus reducing planned outage time by 5% with a total saving €162 Million per annum (nuclear sector and €374 Million per annum (fossil fuel sector) if the HotScan system was deployed throughout the entire stock of EU power plant. The system will identify all creep and fatigue cracks of length greater than 1% of the pipe circumference, reducing the weld failure probability to below, eliminating forced outage time due to weld failure. So the forced outage time from all causes will be reduced by 10% thus saving €0.352 Billion per annum (nuclear sector) and €2.53 Billion per annum (fossil fuel sector) in the EU assuming widespread HotScan deployment.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call