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Pipe Inspection Robot

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000247504D
Publication Date: 2016-Sep-12
Document File: 2 page(s) / 26K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Pipe/Duct Inspection and Foreign Object Retrieval Device Context • Pipes/ducts need to be checked for blockages to ensure safe operation of the system. • These pipes/ducts are often difficult to access – would require the removal of manholes and breaking into the flow line to inspect visually • Free fluid flow is typically used to check for blockages and leaks in the fuel pipes/ducts: • Air flow checks require the installation of blanks • Fuel flow checks typically results in wasted fuel • Especially costly in-service due to lengthy "transfer" testing. • Existing inspection devices are often limited by their range and mobility, creating the need for multiple access points, which can result in lengthy and costly inspection procedures. Idea • The application of a sensor (or multiple sensors), embedded in a self-propelled device, as a means of inspecting pipe/duct integrity and/or checking for blockages and/or sources of leaks. A tool or set of interchangeable tools may also be fitted to the device to enable remote retrieval of blockages. • The device is able to navigate the range of existing pipe/duct geometries: • Circular pipe diameters (typically 2.5" dia) • Square vent ducts (typically 3"x 5") • Pipe features such as bellmouth openings, tight bends (up to 1R 90°) and junctions. • The device may be fully automated or operated remotely by the user. • The integrate sensor(s) could be one or more of the following: • Optical – using image processing methods and/or a direct camera feed to the operator (via a physical or wireless connection) to visually inspect the pipework. • Ultrasonic – measures the internal surface of the pipe to distinguish the level of pipe corrosion and cracking that could cause leaks. This would be particularly useful as a means of inspecting damage on composite pipes, which is otherwise invisible to visual inspection. • Magnetic– use high resolution magnetic flux leakage as a means of identifying and sizing any minor axial flaws. • The device could also feature other secondary sensors to monitor the position, orientation and speed of the device during inspection, providing more information to the operator. • The device could be, but is not constrained to, the following embodiment: • Pig Robot – commonly used in oil, gas and nuclear applications as a means of remotely inspecting pipework of various geometries and orientations. • A pig robot based design could be adapted to navigate pipes/duct by including a steerable head or wheels, for junctions, and thinner segments, for traversing tight bends and openings. • The additional tools could be, but are not constrained to, some of the following: • A grapple or hook • A claw • A suction tool • A magnet • The tools could either be automatically activated in the vicinity of a detected blockage or remotely controlled by the operator. • Limitations: • Fixed base robots have a limited range and thus the removal of multiple manholes would be necessarily to perform thorough inspection (nullifying any time saving). • Fixed base robots are bulky in construction, making them impractical for use in-service. • Pig robots are designed for straight pipes and lack the ability to navigate the junctions apparent in pipe/duct networks. • The proposed idea would be self-driven and therefore able to navigate through any connecting pipes/ducts, extending the range and enabling easier, quicker inspections. The idea could also serve as a replacement to free flow testing: • Time savings  labour cost savings & in-service downtime cost savings • Wasted fuel cost savings • In the event of a blockage, enables rapid diagnostic of the blockage source. The proposed solution would also be easier to use, transport and store in-service than alternatives. • An integrated grapple or claw could be used to enable remote retrieval of blockages, eliminating the need for lengthy tank entry procedures. • Additional maintenance cost savings • Ultrasonic methods presents a means of measuring composite pipe corrosion: • Enables prognostic maintenance

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Pipe/Duct Inspection and Foreign Object Retrieval Device

Context

•       Pipes/ducts need to be checked for blockages to ensure safe operation of the system.

•       These pipes/ducts are often difficult to access – would require the removal of manholes and breaking into the flow line to inspect visually

•       Free fluid flow is typically used to check for blockages and leaks in the fuel pipes/ducts:

•       Air flow checks require the installation of blanks

•       Fuel flow checks typically results in wasted fuel

•       Especially costly in-service due to lengthy “transfer” testing.

•       Existing inspection devices are often limited by their range and mobility, creating the need for multiple access points, which can result in lengthy and costly inspection procedures.

Idea

•       The application of a sensor (or multiple sensors), embedded in a self-propelled device, as a means of inspecting pipe/duct integrity and/or checking for blockages and/or sources of leaks. A tool or set of interchangeable tools may also be fitted to the device to enable remote retrieval of blockages.

•       The device is able to navigate the range of existing pipe/duct geometries:

•       Circular pipe diameters (typically 2.5” dia)

•       Square vent ducts (typically 3”x 5”)

•       Pipe features such as bellmouth openings, tight bends (up to 1R 90°) and junctions.

•       The device may be fully automated or operated remotely by the user.

•       The integrate sensor(s) could be one or more of the following:

•       Optical – using image processing methods and/or a direct camera feed to the operator (via a physical or wireless connection) to visually inspect the pipework.

•       Ultrasonic – measures the internal surface of the pipe to distinguish the level of pipe corrosion and cracking that could cause leaks. This would be particularly useful as a means of inspecting damage on composite pipes, which is otherwise invisible to visual inspection.

•       Magnetic– use high resolution magnetic flux leakage as a means of identifying and sizing any minor axial flaws.

•       The device could also feature other secondary sensors to monitor the position, orientation and speed of the device during inspection, providing more information to the operator.

•       The device could be, but is not constrained to, the following embodiment:

•       Pig Robot – commonly used in oil, gas...