Robot inspects pipes in petrochemical platforms

Sep 19, 2013

With the purpose of verifying onshore and offshore platforms such as Pemex's and detect cracks or corrosion, the Mexican Corporation of Material Research (COMIMSA) designed RoboPipe, a robot capable of inspecting the pipes in the chemical and petrochemical industry without risking personnel.

This technology simulates a remote control car with a camera and a installed; it climbs with the help of magnets and can overcome obstacles, like 90 degree elbows, while the floor personnel registers and monitors data.

Currently, the process pipes that are at a height of more than two meters in offshore or onshore platforms must be inspected by human staff that climbs through scaffolding.

RoboPipe performs corrosion measurements with ultrasound to locate and size the inner pipe damage. The equipped with a camera and inspects pipes and visually verifies external corrosion.

Before using RoboPipe in offshore platforms, between four and six meters of pipe were inspected daily using scaffoldings. With the prototype designed by COMIMSA, between twelve and twenty meters of pipe can be inspected daily by control remote, according to tests conducted at Pemex facilities.

Jesús García Ortiz, from COMIMSA, explained that the camera RoboPipe carries, allows to work under , has with good resolution, can record video and take photos; also, through ultrasonic technology it's possible to measure the thickness of the pipe.

He added that with RoboPipe's technology it's possible to reach inaccessible areas of offshore platforms, up to a height of eight meters, and measure pipes of a hundred millimeters of outer diameter.

"In COMIMSA we decided to design a very small so it could pass between two pipes, through a space of 88 millimeters; also, it had to have the grip to climb up a vertical pipe passing welded joints and not fall because of its own weight or the weight of the equipment it carries to transmit the signals", he said.

This project was designed in association with the Institute of Superior Studies of Monterrey (ITESM), Campus Saltillo, which was responsible of the electronic side of the scheme with staff specialized in mechatronics.

The robot first underwent tests at the laboratory; afterwards protocols were developed for tests at onshore and offshore facilities in the environment of chemical and .

Jesús García Ortiz, said that a survey of the national market was made and RoboPipe can solve other inspection problems in ferromagnetic components inaccessible to human personnel such as buildings and bridges, storage tanks and pressure vessels, among others.

Currently, COMIMSA is improving the prototype and is developing two more robots, one for offshore platforms and one for onshore facilities.

Once both prototypes are validated, this product will be commercialized with licensing or sale options.

"At this moment we are working on bibliographical studies to develop a robot with a laser system that allows in depth measurement of superficial discontinuities on the outside of the pipes", García Ortiz said.

Explore further: European teams demonstrate progress in emergency response robotics since Fukushima disaster

Related Stories

Robotic system to inspect underground pipes

Aug 17, 2012

EU-funded researchers developed a high-tech robotic imaging system for inspecting underground pipes. Commercialisation should facilitate use of corrosion-resistant materials for transport of hazardous chemicals.

Bacteria involved in sewer pipe corrosion identified

Oct 23, 2012

Microbes corrode sewer pipes from the inside, a process that can lead to spills, bad odors, disease outbreaks, and the need for costly repairs. In a first step towards reducing the corrosion, researchers have identified the ...

Underground mission to Mars

Oct 29, 2009

The Netherlands is home to around 120,000 kilometres of underground gas pipelines. Researcher Edwin Dertien of Dutch University of Twente is working on a robot which can inspect the gas pipelines independently. ...

No mere pipe dream

Feb 08, 2010

( -- UCI engineers are working on robotic technology to rehabilitate the nation's aging water infrastructure.

Recommended for you

Robot walker for elderly people in public spaces

May 22, 2015

Elderly people with walking difficulties are often intimidated by busy public places. This led an EU research project to develop a robot walker to guide them around shopping centres, museums and other public ...

Standard knowledge for robots

May 20, 2015

What do you know? There is now a world standard for capturing and conveying the knowledge that robots possess—or, to get philosophical about it, an ontology for automatons.

A folding drone that's ready for takeoff in a snap

May 20, 2015

Thanks to the power of its rotors, this fold-up quadrotor extends its articulated arms and takes off in a fraction of a second. This prototype will be viewed by specialists on May 25 at the International ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.