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Our industrial infrastructure is aging affecting society, economy and industry. Risk assessment and lifetime management gains importance with the progressive aging of industrial installations.

The overall objective is to develop a complete integrated monitoring system that allows to rate industrial piping systems over their whole service life and to increase the general safety. The goal is to reduce investment cost for maintenance, inspection and loss of production as well as to limit accidents, hazardous to mankind and environment. This project addresses important industrial lifecycle issues of the nuclear industry and the sector of chemical plants.

The conceptual objective is to demonstrate the opportunities for the advanced technology to deliver a radical new approach to the lifecycle control and maintenance of structures. This will be achieved by showcasing the optimisation of piping systems in industrial installations that is enabled through a new rating paradigm for risk assessment, management, maintenance and retrofit. A complete integrated monitoring system will allow to rate industrial piping systems over the whole service life and to increase the general safety.

One of the main obstacles in pipe monitoring is the existence of non accessible parts of the system, for example if pipes are passing river basins, running subsurface or inside concrete structures. The objective is to use novel technologies like acoustic emission, guided mechanical wave propagation, tomographic imaging and flexible piezoelectric fibre sensors to overcome that obstacle. The fibres are produced in a nanoscale sol-gel process. The goal is to enable the monitoring of non-accessible parts of the piping system to identify critical faults and to localise the damage in the system automatically. State-of-the art methods, like visual inspection or pressure control, use limited information for the assessment and do not take into account the life cycle. However, modern sensor technology and electrical networking/signal processing make it possible to implement a radical new condition and risk assessment approach to pipe design, operation, maintenance. This approach will use sensor responses to create information feedback loops at every stage of the pipes life cycle. Decision-making can therefore be applied based on the analysis of sensor responses unique for each individual piping system. This approach has the potential to optimise structure design, manufacturing processes, maintenance, repair strategy, operational performance and refit/recycle decisions. The project will lead to a long term-innovation in the plant industry; in particular it will offer a new safety concept for nuclear and chemical plants.

The end users of the consortium apply methodologies at the frontier of current knowledge and are determined to implement long term innovation in order to increase global safety of the nuclear industry or decrease the major number of failures that happen in the chemical industry. The transformation to knowledge based methodology will enhance the industries performance and contribute to the global safety. The subject of controlling flange connections will explore technological frontiers on nanoscale and the decisions support technology in mind will enter untouched areas of structural health monitoring. The incidental or periodic assessment of a plant can be replaced by a permanent monitoring, which on the one hand will reduce the accident risk and on the other hand will increase the service-friendliness and efficiency of a plant. The process will lead to a better understanding of operational properties and the material used in piping systems, like piping walls and flange connections. The result is a safe, efficient and industrial process - which is minimising waste - as well as an advanced control and operation of valuable industrial assets.

Start: 01.01.2004 , End: 31.08.2008

Project Leader
A.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Josef Küng

Project Staff
Mag. Dr. Bernhard Freudenthaler (from: 01.05.2007)
Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Reinhard Stumptner (from: 01.05.2006)