Skip to main content

In-service intrusive Non-Destructive Testing of above ground and underground petrochemical storage tank floors and walls to detect corrosion

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - TankRob (In-service intrusive Non-Destructive Testing of above ground and underground petrochemical storage tank floors and walls to detect corrosion)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2019-04-30

The majority of bulk liquids are stored in tanks which are extremely hazardous to the environment and any spillage is likely to lead to major contamination of the environment and needs to be prevented. It is estimated that 20% of storage tank accidents are caused by cracks or raptures on the tank structure.

Current storage tank NDT inspection is costly, time-consuming and potentially hazardous to human operators. The traditional method is to transfer the tank contents to another tank and vent the emptied tank in order human inspectors can enter it. This process can take over 4 weeks and can cost more than €500k. In addition to these, hazardous gases are often released into the atmosphere.

To address these concerns, alternative inspection technologies are urgently needed, and the consortium aims to fill this gap by developing suitable strategies to meet the technical and regulatory requirements for this challenging application scenario. TankRob is a leading-edge NDT inspection mobile robot system able to inspect the internal steel surfaces of operational oil and gas storage tanks.

In order to maximise its market and impact, the TankRob mobile robot system builds on previous knowledge to realise a design to fit through small access holes found in such storage tanks. The TankRob mobile robot system is being designed to comply with ATEX regulations for operation in the oil section of oil tanks to perform semi-autonomous inspection of the floor of tanks without having to empty, clean and vent the tank.

The improved system will be equipped with advanced NDT instrumentation such as PAUT transducers, with precise localisation and navigation strategies, required to inspect and detect corrosion induced defects in oil tanks in a semi-autonomous manner. Increasing NDT inspection areas coverage is vital for detecting defects to ensure natural disasters arising such as oil leakages into the subsoil and nearby rivers or sea are prevented. Such an innovation is expected to have a notable impact in the economy by creating jobs and training opportunities.

The specific objectives of the TANKROB project are summarised as follows:
- Design optimisation to allow for ATEX certification for use in explosive environments while minimising the manufacturing costs (WP1).
- Control and ultrasound imaging algorithm fine-tuning and GUI implementation (WP2).
- ATEX certification of the TankRob system (WP3)
- Validation and qualification of TankRob in real-world oil tank operational environment (WP4).
- Establishment of TankRob’s distribution network (WP6).
The first period involved becoming familiar with the details of ATEX certification requirements and clarifying zoning issues that have not yet been widely classified for ATEX certification.

WP1 (Commercial version finalisation) has been developed in parallel with WP2 (Software fine-tuning) with the decisive inputs from the ATEX certification authority during the commencement of WP3 (Product certification according to international quality control standards).

An inherently stable, pneumatically driven robotic platform and motion system has been designed and developed, together with the instrumentation NDT and the localisation subsystems.

In terms of dissemination, the consortium has planned and carried out a series of activities to extend its network within the oil and gas industry and raise awareness of the TankRob project. In this way, the project website, social and professional networking pages and brochures have been created for different oil and gas events and conferences.

Regarding project management and coordination of activities against plan, there has been a continuous flow of communication both official and internal between partners. Additionally, the corresponding reports and deliverables for this period have been submitted. These include:

- D1.1 - Final TankRob system version
- D1.2 - User-friendly GUI
- D1.3 - Manual of operation
- D2.1 - Final TankRob UT and PAUT defect recognition software
- D2.2 - Final TankRob control software
- D5.1 - TankRob website
- D7.1 – Risk management log
- Periodic Technical Report
The consortium has taken this project as an opportunity to implement and integrate different innovative technologies. These include the following:

1) Classification of ATEX zones and the use of automation solutions
2) Development of ATEX certifiable robot able to carry suitable NDT technologies for inspecting operational oil and gas installations, with a user friendly Graphical User Interface
3) Development of ATEX certifiable, semi-autonomous, enhanced localisation system with a sonar sensor to map interior of operational oil and gas installations
4) Development of ATEX certifiable advanced NDT solutions comprising Phased Array Ultrasonic system fine-tuning and optimisation that provides accurate detection of corrosion, flaws and defects.

The expected impact of this project can be subdivided into advancing technology throughout the oil and gas and NDT industries and related global networks, improve health and safety conditions, reduce environmental concerns and contribute to global economies through jobs creation.
robtank.jpg